It was the first time the coat seemed necessary. He died in early spring, and after his possessions had been divided among greedy family members, they were distributed to already-established households and ignored. Ignored until I woke today, and realized the cold of six inches of snow would chill me through my canvas jacket. After my father died, my sister dealt with her grief by drowning herself in my mother’s jewelry. Uncle Bruce took my grandfather’s car, something the two brothers had always fought over. Bruce deserved the car; he’d dreamt about owning it when he was younger, but it was left to my father, who couldn’t appreciate something so troublesome. Out of spite, my father kept it, and taunted Bruce. I didn’t agree with that, but it was his, and he could do as he chose. Because of this, Bruce always hated my father and me, too, since I was given the privilege of driving it. After Bruce got the car, he bragged, telling me it was worth more than the house. He knew how much I missed my father, and had to get his last dig in. He couldn’t have cared less – he had his car. I expected him to drive by my house every day, showing me my loss, but for some reason, I never saw him behind the wheel, except sitting in the garage. My grandfather was an old-fashioned man. He believed the oldest son should inherit his father’s property, which is how my father ended up with the car. It’s also how I rid myself of my sweaty apartment in Arizona, and became the sixth owner of my family’s three-story house in Vermont. I remember the house being full of the souvenirs which gave the appearance that my father traveled the world, when actually he had bought them at tag sales and through catalogs. Now it seemed bare, though to the un-knowing eye, it looked like a well-furnished home. It comfortably held couches, coffee tables and armchairs but someone who knew my father would wonder why you could see the backs of bookshelves, why his gold penholder wasn’t on his desk and why his musket wasn’t delicately placed on its ivory hooks over the fireplace. Though the house seemed bare to me, it was still full of treasures. So the morning I woke up to six inches of snow, I opened the closet in the master bedroom and took out my father’s favorite wool coat. It was a single-breasted, ankle-length, black nightmare. But because I had only been in the house two days shy of a month, and was used to the weather of Arizona, I wore it with the same pride my father had. I hadn’t seen snow since I was a child and visited my grandparents in this house. Outside, the wind chilled me and I thrust my hands deep into the pockets that still smelled like my father. My hand felt the metal of a key. I pulled it out, held it in my hand, smiled, then dropped it, letting it disappear beneath the snow.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.