Hannah Pass

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 mean."
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 my thumb.
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.

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