Saturday, 7 January 2012

The Red Coat

The red coat hung limply on the coat rack as it had for many a year. One cuff was shredded and hung like many ribbons waving in the breeze. Two brass buttons where left of the half dozen that use to parade down the front. It was an old coat that could tell many a story.
            As a brand new coat it hung proudly in a display window along Main Street. Not many days later a rather wild looking girl plucked it up and tossed some money down on the counter. Throwing the bright, red coat over her shoulders she ran off, her black skirt swinging round her legs and her blond hair bobbing up and down. The girl took the coat everywhere she went, even if it clashed with her outfit. Her mother was appalled as the styleless covering her daughter insisted on wearing.
            Beneath that red coat beat a heart that longed to be free. To live the life she dreamed. The red coat was the beginning of that dream.
            The girl used the coat to smuggle forbidden items to her room. Beneath that coat in the rain she received her first kiss. And in the shelter of that coat she comforted herself when he left her for the war. The night before he left a streak of red flew down the docks to the boat where he had a bunk. His eyes widened as she told him the words he had been waiting to hear all his life.
            The red coat warded off some of the chilly breeze as they stood on the deck of the Scarlett Messenger exchanging vows that bound them together for the rest of their lives. And beneath the red coat he left her huddled in the cold hotel room as he went off to save the world.
            As she paced the shore waiting for his return the coat kept her from illness that came with standing in the cold breeze all day. The townspeople shook their heads as they watched the red move back and forth against the dark sea.
            When he came back he searched the crowd for the girl in red. She stood in the back hands clasped to her heart. As he reached her she smiled and her hands fell to her side. Nine months had not changed him much, but the coat stretched to reveal her swollen stomach.
            The night their baby was born the coat sheltered her as they made their way into the hospital through the snow.
            As the years went by the coat was never far from her side. Many other coats where worn and bought but in the end she returned to that bright, red coat she bought so many years before. It was a reminder of days gone by.
            One day she left it outside. The small dog they had adopted found it and dragging it away by the cuff, dropped it under a bush and slept the night away. The next morning found the woman and the dog tugging on the coat. With a final ripping sound the woman won the war and ran into the house with her prize. It was whole save for one tattered cuff.
            Now as an old woman surrounded by children, grandchildren and great grandchildren she took down that old red coat and stroking it she began to tell her tale to the wide eyed innocents.
            And when they read her last requests they smiled. Near the end of the letter was a line which read
‘Please bury me in my old red coat. It was a friend and comfort in life; let it also be in death.’
            And so the old woman was buried with her coat. And to this day when visiting her grave these lines are read, ‘Here lies Mary Ann Green Salles, beloved wife, mother and grandmother. With her also lies the bright, red coat which starred in so many of her adventures.’

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