Creative Writing: The ash tray


I enrolled in a course on Creative writing. I thoroughly enjoyed working with Shaun Levin on

Creative Writing for Beginners: Bringing Your Story to Life

Here is the end result of my story.

The copper Ash tray

A sailboat from the past into the future, that’s my copper ashtray.

The ashtray comes from Indonesia. A piece of craftsmanship. The ashtray has a shaft where the matchbox fits. A full matchbox is pushed halfway open over the shaft, for anyone to take a match to light a cigarette or cigar.

I let my fingers glide over the delicately carved bottom part. It feels smooth and cold.

When I close my eyes, I imagine it’s a boat sailing into the sunset, full of adventures from the past.

It has many stories to tell from wartime and peace; travels to the Netherlands, South Africa and some years ago to New Zealand. 

My family lived in a big mansion in Indonesia. My great-granddad was an engine driver on the railways. During weekends or days of, the men would gather in the lounge or outside relaxing with a cigar or cigarette with the ashtray always handy nearby to light the smoker’s cigars. The family moved back to Hilversum in the Netherlands before World War II started and took the tray home.

The next move was to Pretoria, South Africa in 1952. The tray was not used much because there was no time to relax anymore. No gatherings for smokes because the cigars were costly, and my parents knew nobody at first. 

My parents moved to Polokwane to live with my sister. The smoke tray had a special place in my sister’s house.  My son wanted to move to New Zealand, and before he went, my mother asked:

“Would you like to inherit the whole smoke tray? It’s been in the family since 1912, and you are the only male descendant.”

“Wow, grandma, I would love it,” came the satisfying answer.

Today the smoke tray is in my home. It travelled with me to New Zealand in 2009. It still goes to my son, I’ll look after it while I’m alive because it is precious to me. My granddaughter loves to play with it. She puts some dried rose petals in it, and repeatedly takes the leaves out and into one of the other ashtrays and back in the small one that looks like a sailboat on its way into the sunset.

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11 thoughts on “Creative Writing: The ash tray

  1. Heirlooms are special objects that sadly are losing place in today’s small living spaces and many people are not placing values on sentiment any more. I myself have some furniture and objects I cannot part with

    Like

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