Reprint: Rachel Buys A Winter Coat

a story about nothing much

I started this story in the spring of 2018 and rediscovered it, unfinished, in summer of 2018. It was originally published on my Patreon.

The spring sales were on at all the shops, and Rachel needed a new coat, but winter raged on and she didn’t want to buy one. 

Spring was the time for lightweight jackets. A field jacket, with its pockets full of possibility and forgotten $20s from last spring. That boiled wool swing jacket that looked so very 1970s and could only be worn with culottes. Her leather moto jacket. 

It had been winter for long enough that Rachel had lost count of how many weeks in a row it had snowed. It would be April soon and still it snowed. There had been a brief period in February when it had not snowed. Rachel had thought, then, of buying a new coat, but it seemed foolish to buy a coat for winter when spring was beckoning. 

Now spring was here, officially, but winter still blazed on, relentless and bitter. Rachel’s winter coat was worn thin in a few places. The collar. Under the arms. The hem at the back where she sat on it on the subway. 

Last week the crocuses pushed up through the dirt. Today they were buried in the snow. The sidewalk was all slush. 

Rachel contemplated buying a new coat and wearing it for the remainder of this forever winter. If she does, will Aslan come and save them from the White Witch? 

She could not bring herself to think of wearing a new coat until next year. 

She thought perhaps she might buy the coat and put it away, wrapped up and pushed to the far bad recesses of the hall closet. If she did this, she would have it ready for next year. The sales were really quite good. But giving in to winter was too much. 

Rachel walked past Macy’s after she was done with work for the day. She just happened to be on 34th Street. She wasn’t there for a coat. She might go in and pick up a gift at the See’s counter. Nothing more. 

Once she was inside, all was lost. 

Rachel purchased ankle boots, to begin with. Ankle boots are the sort of footwear you can wear in the spring, you dream all winter of wearing in the spring, but you really want in fall, when you’ve forgotten the winter and year for sweater weather. 

Rachel glanced at the coats as she rode the escalator past them. She stepped off the escalator and walked through the perfume counters, sniffing but not testing. She found the most floral of all perfumes and then—only then—allowed herself to sample it on her wrist.

She took the escalator back down.

She stopped by the coats. They were, most of them, drab and heavy-looking. Just like winter. Across the way she spotted a puffy pink coat that looked like a cotton candy cloud. Surely, she thought, it would only be available in size 0. It looked like there was only one. She made her way across anyway. She was not going to buy it, because it would not be available in her size, or the price would not be right.

Another woman crossed in front of Rachel and went straight for the pink coat. She turned over the tag, looked at it, and huffed away. Rachel almost turned away without looking. But she’d come this far, so she picked up the tag.

It was her size.

And it was 75% off.

Rachel bought the pink puffy cotton candy coat. She wore it every day until it was finally, finally too warm for it. Then she had it cleaned and put it away for next winter.