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The Woman in the Trench Coat This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

The clouds hung low in the air; fat and swollen with moisture. The streets were abandoned and the cement was laced with water from the previous downpour. No one wanted to be in the rain unless it was absolutely necessary due to the fact that most people didn’t want their hair or makeup to become inadequate—God forbid we see how these people actually look.
But there was a single woman out who looked around her mid-thirties. Her hair was a coppery shade of red—almost orange—and was shoulder length. It was a wiry in texture with strong waves that swayed at each step. Her face was decorated with pale freckles and eyes an unnaturally pale shade of blue. She wore many layers of clothes: a shirt, an overcoat, and a large gray trench coat. Each article of clothing was worn out to its fullest. The colors she wore were macabre with the exception of the only thing that differed: a bright red overstuffed backpack slung on both shoulders and the straps were put on tightly.

One would think a woman like this would be homeless, walking around by the way she dressed. But, the oddity of her was what surrounded her: three identical children around the age of six. Each of them bearing the same hair and eyes as their mother with the exception of the fact that something glinted in their eyes that their mother had lost a long time ago.

Her stride was confident as she trudged the empty streets as she lead her children to their shelter. Her pace quickened significantly as she covered more and more distance to her destination. She took this path every day, cutting across the suburban homes that looked as identical as the next. As her charcoal boots splashed in the puddles caused by the downpour she ignored the buzzing cars around her.

If the weather was better, a few kind souls would greet her with a cheerful wave or a friendly smile. She would try to reciprocate the gesture, but it never turned out quite the same.

The woman and children passed the white-picket fence houses and entered a part of town that wasn’t known for its comradery. The houses here were surrounded by wired fences adorned with rips and tears. She made her way, twisting and turning the usual route until she came to the house that was hers, for the moment at least. Hers was like the rest, faded gray paint with dirt streaks, the window was barely holding on its hedges and could fall any second, and there was a dirt road that lead to the garage that’s only lock was a padlock with its key under the man-produced rock on the ground.

She headed towards the door that was once a vibrant cerulean, but now it’s a dull blue-gray. She flung open the door and it opened effortlessly; it was hardly ever locked. She unveiled the wreckage that she tentatively called her home. Laundry was piled high in the corner by the worn out bookcase that held books that would make a literary sigh in content. As her children ran to their rooms to do the tasks their teacher had assigned, the red-haired woman ran a finger down the spine of a book and sighed in discontent.

There was a pungent odor in the air and she clenched her fists, realizing what it was. As her anger ebbed, she walked to her room and found her husband in a catatonic state. This wasn’t out of the norm so she didn’t bother to look twice. The thought of him being dead did pass through her mind, but when he rolled over in the bed that thought quickly evaporated.

She went to her nightstand, rolling up a single dollar bill she’d earned from tips that day. She tied her fiery hair in a messy bun and bent over her wooden dresser. She rolled up the sleeves of her trench coat and placed a row of the chunks of white crystal in front of her. Pressing the bill to her nose, she inhaled the contents with her nostrils. The rush to her brain was quick. Her nerves felt alive.

She stood up straight and looked herself in the mirror. With one of her sleeves hanging down and several strands falling from her bun, she wondered what those white-picket fenced mothers would think if they saw her now.





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