portion of the artwork for Mary Kane's stories

The Coat
Mary Kane

It’s a Saturday in mid-January and very cold, 19 degrees with a wind chill of 3 degrees, and the husband has just gotten a new winter coat, which isn’t really new. It is a new used winter coat, meaning it is new to the husband. And when he puts it on, he says to his wife that he feels sort of like a superhero. His feeling superhero-ish, his wife understands, is because even though the coat is thick and warm and puffy, it is also fairly lightweight, so when he and his wife go out for their walk, which they are doing now, he feels warm in his new coat, but he also feels a spring in his step because he is comparing how he feels in the new coat to how he felt in his old coat, which not only had a broken zipper but also was heavy and weighed him down when he walked. Now he feels he can walk farther and faster and maybe even save people from oncoming enemy bicyclists or renegade toy poodles or labradoodles on the path where he and his wife are walking.

He also feels a little like a dead man, he says, by which his wife can’t tell whether he means he feels dead because the coat belonged to a man who is now dead, or if he feels like the man whose coat it was who is now dead, by which he might mean that he feels older, since the man whose coat it was was 94 when he died, and maybe he feels more educated since the man whose coat it was had a Ph.D. and earned numerous awards and honors for his scientific research whereas the husband has only an associate’s degree.

The wife likes the way her husband looks in his superhero dead man’s coat. It is gray and puffy and has a hood with fur around its edges, and even though the husband isn’t wearing the hood, the way it bunches up, the fur makes a sort of collar, and his face looks sweet and young peeking out from that fur collar. And he is smiling and looks truly happy and energetic and brave like a superhero. As they walk along in the cold on the path, side by side, the wife begins to feel faint and wants to fall into the husband’s arms but she doesn’t. She keeps walking and she doesn’t say anything, but she can feel herself falling in love with her new dead man superhero husband.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 53 | Spring/Summer 2019