Contest #18 shortlist ⭐️

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Jade tucked both hands into her pockets, making small hops on the porch hoping it would warm her up. Why hadn’t she worn a heavier jacket? 

“Take a jacket, you never know when you might need it. The car could break down, you could get stuck in the snow…blah, blah, blah” Jackson’s words, muttered from her lips. She knocked again. Three rapid taps. This last-minute stop was going to give her pneumonia. 

“It’s open!” Came the call from inside. She quickly opened the door and stepped inside. “You know you can just walk in!” Her mom walked in drying her hands with a towel. She flipped it over her shoulder as she leaned in for a hug. She grabbed Jade by the shoulders, “Why aren’t you wearing a jacket?”

“It’s not that cold!” Jade said with a grin. “And I hate wearing my jacket in the store, so I just don’t bring one.”

Mom shook her head. “Grab one of your brother’s jackets before you leave. There are a couple of his old ones in the closet by the door.” Her gaze lingered on the closet before she turned and walked back into the kitchen. Jade looked at the closet before following her mother into the kitchen.

“Tea?” Mom asked. She pressed the button on the kettle, and it started to hum. Jade glided around the kitchen gathering the supplies while her mother returned to the stove. The water began to bubble, and the kettle clicked. Jade poured the steaming water into the mugs, watching the color of the tea swirl into the hot water. She slid the second mug across the counter next to her mother.

Picking up her mug Jade gripped it tightly, leaning back against the counter. She inhaled the steam and aroma, closing her eyes and exhaling. Her mother’s voice jarred her from her peace. “What brings you over anyway? More importantly, are you staying for dinner?” Her mother grinned and glanced her way.

“No, I have a couple more errands to run before this weekend. I was just driving by and figured you might be home.” Jade sipped her tea and continued to listen to the familiar sounds of her mother making dinner. Her mother paused for a moment, grabbed her cup of tea, and took a slow sip. Jade side stepped over to the pan and began to stir the browning meat. It would have been her mother’s turn to lean against the counter and enjoy the tea, if her mother had the ability to sit still. The tea was back on the counter, and her mother was running off to do something else on her never-ending list of chores and “to-dos.” She heard her straightening furniture and fixing books on their shelves. Briskly, her mother came back into the kitchen, grabbing for something else to prep for dinner. Salad would go nicely with this dish. They had made many meals together and there was some comfort in the normalcy of this routine. 

“Alright, I need to head out.” Jade sighed. She put her empty mug down in the sink and turned to hug her good-bye. “I’ll see you this weekend. Text me if you want to grab coffee.” The pressure of the hug felt good, felt cathartic. With an extra squeeze, it was done.

After the embrace her mother chided “Don’t forget to grab a jacket on your way out. It’s freezing outside.” 

“I’ll be fine, Mom, really.” 

“Jacket. I won’t say it again.” 

“Fine.” Jade sighed and walked out of the kitchen. She approached the door that lead to the attic stairs. Opening the door, she stepped in to survey her choices. They were all lined up on hooks, like little ducks following their mother. Her gaze fell on the one she almost couldn’t bare to look at. She grabbed the worn bomber jacket from its place on the wall, carefully removing the loop from the hook. She held it in both hands, her thumbs rubbing the soft leather. She lifted it to her face and inhaled deeply. It still smelled like him. She put it on. She pulled the hood of her sweatshirt up above the collar, the way Jackson had always done. She zipped it up and put both hands in the pockets. Something cold glanced across her fingers. She extracted the thick gold band from the pocket and turned it over in her fingers. The filigree that encircled the band was worn in certain places. This is why they hadn’t been able to find it for the funeral. His hand had looked so empty without it. A conversation replayed in her mind. “God, that thing is tacky.” 

“It was Grandpa’s! It has sentimental value. Appreciate your history.” Jackson put his hands on his hips in mock exasperation. They both started to laugh. He had looked at the ring then with more emotion than anyone should ever put into an object.

“Whatever, that’s why you wear it. I wouldn’t wear that thing if you paid me.” 

“One day, one of my kids will want wear this, and I’ll be able to tell them it made it through a war and much more after that.”

The grin across his face always lit up a room. He could talk to anyone about anything, and his passion made everyone care about all the things he cared about. He wore the old wedding ring on his middle finger, but he still got asked if he was married all the time. He would fiddle with it when he was nervous or thinking or bored. It became a part of him. She slipped the ring over each finger of both hands in succession, finding it would have fallen off each and every one. Jade unclasped her necklace and slipped the ring onto its chain. The ring laid cold and heavy on her sternum. She turned to see her mom walking into the room.

She glanced up and stopped short. “Oh,” she sighed, hand over her mouth. “I thought you were…” her voice caught in her throat. 

Jade blinked back tears. “I always liked this jacket.” 

December 07, 2019 03:44

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