Bohemia Village Voice  Bohemia Village Voice

For bohemians everywhere

Suravi Devkota

That Bloody Old Coat

The sky hung wide but heavy above my shoulders as I walked past several stalls in the boot sale, my eyes passing feverishly over the junk on offer.
I hesitated at old postcards and a navy duffle coat as an impulse to buy passed like a wave over me. ‘Definitely not the right weather’, I thought, putting the coat on, the fabric hanging heavy and hot above an itchy red rash and sweat on my shoulder blade.
I inspected the coat once more. The fabric was definitely wearable but musky and when I dived into the pocket, moist tissue shredding fell out. Disgusted and eager to go home, I hastily handed loose change to the middle-aged, and fittingly fragrant, owner.
Rows of familiar uninteresting households glistened as the glare of the summer heat compounded the weight of the coat on my hand. The slam of the door announced my arrival home. I felt the relief of the loud noise and the cool surrounding and I headed straight to the bathroom remembering the task at hand.
I plugged the bath and threw the coat in and twisted the hot water knob; the water flowed noisily. I rubbed the soap onto my skin, the blood rising to the surface of my skin and then briskly scrubbed the soaking fabric. Feeling the ache on my shoulders I stretched and pressed my back against the cool tiled surface and concentrated on the patterns on the wall before me. My thoughts caught the current of its curled repetitious pattern. My heart beat vigorously against the wall.
A sharp ring woke me.
I responded to the shrieking tones, reaching the phone at the final ring.
“What’s that noise?” the voice rasped interrupting the pleasant hum of the running water.
“The tap’s on,” I offered, returning to the bathroom and turning the offending noise off.
The high, raspy voice rapidly garnered momentum finding no end of subjects to discuss and no openings for me to interject. I sat down at the edge of the bath picking at the sunburn on my shoulder, waiting patiently for the conversation to end. The steam settled down as she moved onto another indistinct subject, filling the air with the familiar smell of humidity and something more pungent. I looked at the bath water, mixed in with the dark dye and dirt dispersing from the drenched fabric was a familiar shade of red.
I switched the phone off and placed it carefully by the sink. With steady hands I released the stopper and examined the unmistakeable flush of blood whorl downwards into the drain.
I let more water beat onto the dark material and my hands reached for the soap with panic, kneading it in between my palms scrubbing every corner of my hands breathlessly. I stopped only to notice the water run clear. My body relaxed but I could only feel the dull ache in my hands. I looked at the drenched material and considered its fate . . .
The window blocked the late October chill, the grey sky and the golden billowy leaves visible as a reflection on the bathroom mirror. The summer heat seemed like a distant memory now as the rash on my shoulders had healed completely. I looked at the mirror past my reflection at the bathroom behind me. A deviant red memento etched on the bathtub floor betrayed its immaculate surrounding. I shivered and pulled the collar of my once bloody coat to my face and inhaled the crisp clean scent of soap.

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