The leather jacket lovesong

Written in response to: Write about someone giving or receiving a gift.... view prompt

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Fiction Friendship Romance

I close my laptop and look straight into the living area. I'm done for today. My work is sent to my employer, and I'm not going to get my head crazy about whether it’s good enough or not. It's done and I can relax now. I take a deep breath while I look into the room. It's a lot spacier than my old place. Who am I kidding, this place is luxurious! And you know what? I will finally do what she has told me I should do for the past week now. Use the bubble bath. With all the bath lights on. Yes, that's what I'm going to do.

 

While the water runs into the bath, I look at all the products she keeps in her cabinet. Who needs so many bath bombs? I'm pretty sure she's not going to miss one of them, so I take one and drop it into the water. I watch how the ball dissolves itself slowly and then turn on the bubbles. It speeds up the process and I love watching the bath salt and the colors swirl through the tub.

 

My old place had just a shower with a shabby shower curtain, which had to be replaced. But I didn't, because why should I always be the one changing stuff? It was Harry's place just as much as mine. Well, that wasn't entirely true. Harry was here first and took me in, so we could share the rent. It worked out fine until Harry threw me out last week without warning. I just had to leave by the end of the week. He was being gratuitous, or so he said. In reality, his girlfriend wanted to move in with him. He didn’t have the spine to tell her no. After all, they were together for five weeks already. But he had the spine to throw me out after only five months. I can still see the grin on her face while I carried my two suitcase out of the apartment. 

 

I close the tabs, turn on the lights of the tub and dim the general light in the bathroom. Yes, this bathroom has a dimmer switch! I undress and slowly get into the water, bubbles and all. Good luck with that moldy shower curtain, bitch! I close my eyes and sink entirely underwater. I feel so relaxed. When I come back to the surface, I focus on this awesome bath. The bubbles, the lights, the sweet smell of the bath bomb. I’m pretty sure it’s good for my skin as well, I can just feel my skin getting smoother. This, this is the life. 

 

Of course, I had been lucky that it had been Kim I ran into first after Harry told me I had to leave by the end of the week. It was a Wednesday evening. I sat in a small café, cursing Harry over a mug of hot chocolate. She came in and asked me if she could have a seat with me. Kim and I, well, we’re unlikely friends from two completely different worlds. We met while she was reading a book at a different café I worked at the time. I made a comment about the book. It’s something I’ve done before by customers and not always with the best reactions, I may add. She looked up, smiled, and asked me if I had an opinion on why countries, that were recently liberated from their white oppressors, flirt with communism. I had, and a friendship was born. 

 

I never thought that a few months later I would sit in her bathtub one Wednesday late in the afternoon. She asked me what was wrong and without hesitation she offered me to stay with her for the time being. After all, she had a spare room which had a bed and a couple of dust collecting fitness apparatus. I was free to use at least one of the things in that room. And when she said free, she meant free. I was to save up, so I could pay for the deposit for when I would find my own apartment. She was paying regardless of me living there or not, so it didn’t matter to her. I needed a place badly, so I decided not to argue. I feel extremely uneasy living here, despite her efforts. Today is the first day I manage to relax about the situation. And relaxing is what I do. 

 

I dry myself with a large towel while the water runs away. Note to self, I really should do that more often. Maybe buy myself something a bit more masculine smelling. In just my boxer shorts, I walk to my room and put on some sweatpants and a hoodie before I sit on her large couch. I just want to open the grub hub app, when the doorbell rings. The least I can do is ask who is there. 

 

“Hi, Kim send me over, can you open up?” I have no idea who this is, but if Kim sent her, it’s probably okay. I look at the white panel on the wall and see a woman standing there with a parcel. 

 

“Sure. Hang on, I just need to figure out…” 

 

“The red button with the key on it, love.” 

 

“Of course… I knew that.” I mumble and press the red button with the key on it. I hear the buzzer and see the woman enter the building just before the display goes black again. At the door I wait for her to come up and while she walks in my direction in the hallway I realize I’ve seen her before. She’s Kim’s stylist, and she’s carrying a big box in her arms. I’m ready to accept it on her behalf, but the stylist is asking me if she can come in. 

 

“Yeah, sure. Come in.” I hold the door open, and she walks into the apartment as if she’s been her a lot of times. And I’m pretty sure she has. She walks straight to the dining table, where she puts down the parcel. I always thought these kinds of boxes would have ribbons on them, but I guess I’m wrong. She turns around and has this overly exciting grin on her face.

 

“Kevin, right?” 

 

“Yeah. Yeah, I’m Kevin, hi.” I still don’t know whether to shake hands or fist bump someone. She goes for the fist bump and I gladly answer it. 

 

“We’ve seen each other before, right? My name is Jennifer and Kim send me over to give you this.” Jennifer pops open the box and moves some rustling paper to the side, and then lifts a black leather jacket out of the box. She hands it over. “Here, try it on.” 

 

“What?” Jennifer holds the jacket in front of me, waiting for me to take it and try it on. More out of politeness than anything else, I take it and stare at it as if I’ve never seen a jacket before. It feels soft, not too heavy and actually has a really nice cut. It also has a hood on it, which gives the jacket an extra edge. I’m loving it, in fact, this is exactly the kind of jacket I always wanted to have. I lower my arms and see how Jennifer is watching me. 

 

“What are you waiting for? Try it on. Kim told me that this should be your size. If you wanted it a bit more loose, I have one in my car, I can get it for you. If this is too big, I come back tomorrow with a size smaller. But Kim was very certain about the size. You just never know with leather jackets, some people just want them oversized. What are you staring at? Put it on.” 

 

She smiles politely. I slowly do what she asks me to do. The jacket fits like a glove. The fabric is amazing. I look for the pockets and there’s two on the hips with zippers and two on the inside of the jacket. I zip the jacket up and even with my hoodie on, it fits perfectly. This is a dream! 

 

“Well, what do you think? I think it looks great on you and is exactly your size. I don’t think you need to try on a different size.” 

 

“Yeah. Uhm. Wait, why am I trying this on?”

 

“Kim told me you required a new jacket. She told me what you like and to get you one.” I ripped my jacket at the sleeve last night after I went out for a late night snack for the both of us. No big deal. I was going to sew it back together later tonight. I feel with my right hand over my left arm and feel how soft the fabric is, vegan leather, Jennifer tells me. Then I look at the box. The fact that a freaking stylist has brought me this makes the jacket even more expensive than it probably already is. I take it off and put it back in the box. A little hesitant I close the box. 

 

“It’s cool, but I can’t accept it.” 

 

Jennifer looks at me as if I just lost my mind. And maybe I have. But I really don’t need a stylist bringing me a jacket as a gift from the person in whose house I live in for free. 

 

“But…”

 

“Just take it back. I know Kim meant well. But I can’t and won’t accept. I can fix my own jacket, no problem.” 

 

Jennifer still looks at me like I lost my mind and refuses to take back the box. 

 

“I just leave it here, you can work it out with her. If she accepts your refusal, she can call me tomorrow and I’ll pick it back up.” I want to argue that she should save the trouble of driving back here when I hear a key turn at the front door. It must be Kim, she’s early today. Anyway, it’s Jennifer’s queue to leave. She walks towards the door, chats quickly with Kim and shouts a “Have a nice evening Kevin!” before I hear the door fall shut. Kim walks into the room with a surprised look on her face while taking off her coat. 

 

“What’s wrong with the jacket?” 

 

“Nothing.” 

 

“Can I see how it looks on you?”

 

“No.” 

 

“Why not?” 

 

“Because I’m not going to accept it.”

 

“Why not? I thought you would like it. It’s the kind of jacket you always wanted, right?”

 

“Well, yes.”

 

“Then, get it back out of the box and…”

 

“No.” 

 

“Kevin…” She tilts her head and looks at me. She sincerely doesn’t get it. I sigh and walk to the couch and sit down, gesturing her to sit next to me. She does, and looks at me expectantly. She wants an explanation, and it has to be a good one. I feel the pressure rising. 

 

“Listen Kim, I really appreciate it, I really do. But, I really can’t. You helped me get a new job. You let me live here for free. And we really need to talk about that some time, because I’m not okay with that. You’re such a good friend. You do so much for me. And now you this?” 

 

“I don’t expect anything in return, I was hoping you knew that. It’s just that, I like to do this. And I can. I don’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable.” She sounds pensive. As if she thinks about every word she says and weighs it in three times before speaking. I know she means well. 

 

“But it’s exactly what it does, make me feel uncomfortable. I used your bubble bath today. Do you have any idea how much effort it took me to do that?” 

 

She bites on her lower lip. I know that look, she’s thinking, trying to understand the situation. She’s also going to try to convince me to her point. 

 

“That bath was already in when I moved in here. Would you take something out, something you wouldn’t necessarily put in yourself, just to make a point? It’s there, use it!”

 

“And that’s why I did. But a stylist, to bring me a jacket? How much does it cost anyway?” 

 

“I don’t know.” 

 

“That’s not the right answer.” 

 

“If I had the time today to go shopping with you today, I would have.” she sounds a bit defeated, and I start to feel sorry for her. Still, I want her to know how this whole scene made me feel. 

 

“We could have this weekend.” I say and try to cheer her up a little by smiling at her.

 

“You needed one now. And why search the entire town when I know someone who doesn’t just know what I want by saying half a word, but also knows where to get that exact item?”

 

“I would have settled for less.”

 

“Exactly.” I look at my feet. I would never have accepted this in a store. She knew that. 

 

“But why do this for me? You don’t owe me anything.” I can tell she’s taking a deep breath and exhales slowly. She turns into my direction and slowly leans into me. Before I can register what is going on, I can feel her soft lips on mine. They’re sweet, sweeter as the bath bomb I used earlier today. 

 

“Oh.” is all I manage to say when she moves back to where she was. 

 

“No, I don’t. And you don’t owe me anything, either. I worked hard to where I am today, and it makes life a bit easier, in terms of financial stuff anyway. I’m finally settling down, accepting my life as it is today. It felt weird having a stylist at first, but I’ve come to embrace it. It makes life easier, and I finally managed to create a style. I know it can be taken away from me at any given time. I don’t mind when that happens, I can handle myself. Really, life was good, until this stranger comes up to me and is willing to talk politics with me. This guy, he’s doing fine as well. He has a job, not his dream job, but it pays the bills. He’s laid back and he’s friendly. Not only that, but he wants to hang out with me, talk to me. Laugh with me, have late night discussions with me. I know that’s all we’ll have. Why would he be with someone like me? I decided to help him out instead, knowing and unknowing to him, it’s the least I can do.” 

 

I stare at her the whole time until I realize I still have my mouth half open, from where her lips left mine. Quickly I close my mouth, keeping my eyes on her. Seriously, I had no idea. And quite frankly, I feel like a real asshole right now. I get up and walk to the dining table. I take the lid off the box and take the jacket out again. This goddamn jacket is really everything I ever wanted. Yes, I am that shallow. 

 

And then I remember a conversation we both had, about two months ago. She had to go to some dinner party and didn’t want to go. We started to talk about dress codes and how her taste didn’t always meet with what her stylist gave her to wear. In that conversation, I told her about how I wanted to dress and how hard that is in reality. And it was in that conversation I mentioned this jacket. Casually. But she remembered. I put the leather jacket on and make a little catwalk turn for her. 

 

“What do you think?”

 

“I think it suits you perfectly.” she smiles. I walk back to her and sit next to her again. I take her hands into mine and look at our hands. 

 

“Thank you.” I look up and look straight into her eyes. Who am I kidding? Ever since she asked me if I had an opinion on oppressed countries and how they developed since, I had a crush on her. I never thought a woman like her would be interested in a fella like me. But I should have known that wasn’t true. She is different. 

 

“Sorry I sent Jennifer over. That was a bit… sophisticated.” 

 

“I will just have to learn to deal with that then.” I answer. She smiles at me, and I completely forget what we just have been talking about.

 

“Since you already used my bubble bath in my ensuite bathroom, you may want to try out my bed as well?” 

 

“Sure, why not?” I try to sound casual, but I’m anything but.

 

“Take off your jacket then and follow me.” Well, this is an offer I’m definitely not going to argue about. I’m glad Harry threw me out. I’m glad I ripped my jacket. And yes, I’m glad Jennifer came with a leather jacket in a box. I quickly take off my jacket, but it will not go back in that box ever again. 

November 19, 2021 23:08

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