My boyfriend's fur
coat shop is going under. Today is the last day. Apparently in Florida the
trend is dying out. Finally, I think. I've never cared for the look. Dead
fur has never covered this skin.
The coats lie in piles atop antique oak tables, arms crossed, as if dead,
as if ready to be set afire and sailed off to wide-open water. Jack sells
all the notable kinds: North American Raccoon, Ermine, Silver Fox, Rabbit,
and on the extra-discounted racks, for 50-percent off, Goat Hair and one
polyester-lined Muskrat struck with blue marker from a child.
"What are you going to do with the ones you don't sell?" I ask him.
Although I'm here daily, we've never discussed it. Jack keeps business
matters to himself. I crouch and sweep the dressing room floor, gather the
dust to a puff, the velvety-soft curtain spilling over my head.
For a second Jack doesn't hear me. He's engrossed in a grooming. He takes
out his ivory comb, gives the Tibet Lamb a raking in the full length
mirror, slivers of fur parachuting to the ground. "I've got it all planned
out," Jack says, and then his face lights up. "It's time I go online!"
Sometimes, I think, what gets me is all the little rituals Jack goes
through during a sell. A quick spritz of his personal scent on the chest,
of musk and lawn. A gentle shake to instill volume. Some say his coats are
magic, that they take you where you need to go. I think it's all in the
eye of the beholder. The women click in through the doorway, touch their
hair, and melt upon the room. They always spot Jack first. This is because
Jack is objectively handsome. His hair swoops back from natural wave as if
struck by wind, and he has gigantic blue eyes that always seem to be doing
something. He gets the women with "The Spell," that's what I call it. Jack
insists he can match a coat to a woman's longing. As soon as they slip
their arms into sleeves, the pelts renew them immediately. Usually it's
Lynx for confidence, something weighted and downy like Chinchilla for
despair. The last customer, although vegan, purchased Blue Fox to revive
her sex life.
"Why Blue Fox?" the woman had said, touching the collar.
"The color. Plus, Fox keeps the heat in." Jack winked. "If you know what I
At the mirror I stood, reflecting all of my non-coated layers:
light-washed jeans, white tank, a brunette ozone of frizz over my head.
"But why cover it all up?" I'd said. "Why put more layers between you and
the one you love?"
This is not to say I'm not supportive of it all. I am always right there
at Jack's side, holding the wooden coat hanger, a grin on my face, my own
wistful fibers woven inside. When asked what I think, I nod and flick up
It isn't until after the last costumer leaves, until the pink sky settles
in and the sun peels away, until Jack tells me he'll be sleeping at his
place tonight to debrief, that I want to know what I have been wondering
all along—what fur would he choose for me?
Jack laughs. "I don't need to pick you a coat, Milly. I already know you.
I already know what you need."
Which, maybe Jack is right, but maybe somewhere in the bank of my thoughts
I have a whole pool of needs I never even knew existed. My mind hurts at
the idea: maybe I have shaped myself into the wrong kind of woman for the
wrong kind of man.
I look at Jack. "Please," I say.
Jack taps his chin and goes to the rack, where all of the coats shine as
if still on the animal. He pulls out Mink, classic, two-toned caramel. He
doesn't hold it for me to slip on like he does for the others. I do it all
by myself. I stick my arms into the sleeves and the satin soothes my skin.
I close my eyes and all the walls give way to golden clouds. Then I feel
that heat rush at me, a hot wave pulling me out to sea.
Hannah Pass is the author of OUR REINCARNATED, a collection of stories. She has work in or coming
from American Short Fiction, Paper Darts, Tin House and others.
Read her postcard.
W i g l e a f