Nanoprep 2020 Day 6: Vintage Coat
By Robin de Voh on 2020-10-12
Ava liked going to vintage stores. She didn't mind buying new clothes necessarily, but there was something about getting something someone else had already used and giving it a new life. Especially the older things, somebody had loved it enough to keep it around and had not wanted to throw it out. Or at least, that's what she told herself. She didn't need the details.
And she was looking for a coat, because it was colder outside than any of the jackets or coats she already had could weather, and here she always found the more interesting ones. She was going through the rack and saw some nice coats, making mental notes as she continued on. None had really wowed her yet.
Then she saw it. Dark purple, almost black, but if the light shone on it from the right angle the color almost popped. Almost. She pulled it out and looked at it. It was old. Not ragged, it seemed to be in an okay shape, but it had stitching that showed it had been made with attention. More so than the disposable stuff in most fashion stores nowadays.
She held it in front of her and looked in the mirror a little further into the store. She thought the color worked for her, and the size seemed to fit as well, so she took off her own jacket and pulled on the coat. It was warm, much warmer than her current jacket, so it was obviously for actual winter times, like now. Perfect.
She turned and looked at herself. It looked good. In that instant, she decided to get it, if it wasn't too expensive. She tried to look at the price tag but it was in her neck now, and she couldn't quite turn her head far enough to look at it. She chuckled and took the coat off again to check.
60 bucks. She looked at the coat again and saw no real damage to it. Maybe a couple worn patches, but nothing that really was damaged.
Sold. She walked over to the counter, her new old coat and her jacket slung over her arm, and put the purple coat on it. A worker walked up, greeted her and took her money. She said thanks and walked towards the exit.
She put the coat on again, the price tag now removed. It was hers. And it felt comfortable and warm. she stuffed her jacket into her bag, which only just fit in there, and she walked outside.
The cold stung her face and hands but that was it, this was much better than her jacket had been. She stuck her hands in the coat's pockets and walked towards the subway station.
She found something in the pocket and without thinking about it her fingers started playing with it. Then she realized -- she had no idea what it was. A piece of paper? She pulled it out and looked at it.
"Meet me in 20 years at Lou's Diner downtown -- Jack, November 25th 1998"
She stood there and looked at it. The handwriting was nice, it had been carefully written. Was this meant for the previous owner of the coat? Probably, she thought.
She inhaled sharply as she realized it was 20 years later -- 2018-- and it was November. She scrambled to grab her phone from her bag to verify what she feared.
November 26th. 2018.
It was yesterday. If Jack, after 20 years, had shown up to Lou's Diner, he would have been there yesterday. She missed it by a day.
"Dammit," she said to herself. She looked back at the vintage store and walked back in and up to the counter.
"Hey, how can I help you?" the salesperson asked.
"Do you happen to know where this coat came from?"
"Actually, I do, this one came in a while ago together with a bunch of other stuff. If I recall correctly, the previous owner died and her children brought over the stuff they didn't want to throw out."
"She.. She died?"
"Yeah, I'm sorry, did you know her?"
"No, no..." and her thoughts trailed off. "Thank you," she eventually added before walking out into the cold again.
She grabbed her phone again and searched for Lou's Diner. There were 3 in the city, but only one downtown. She made a decision to follow this note. At least try. If Jack showed up after 20 years he deserved to know.
It wasn't a long subway ride, and Lou's Diner wasn't too far a walk from there, and her new coat kept her warm anyway.
She went into the diner, a standard little place, nothing special, and walked up to the counter.
"Hi, anything to drink?" the lady behind the counter asked with a typical service person smile, friendly but not really aimed at you. Her nameplate said Agnes.
"No, not right now, sorry, but I do have a question?"
"Shoot, love," Agnes said with her fake smile still shining brightly.
"I... I'm looking for a man, who might have been here yesterday? Waiting for someone? His name is Jack, maybe an older man?"
Agnes' face became more concerned, but still friendly.
"Oh, sweetie... Are you sure you want to be doing something like that?" she said, in a hushed but earnestly concerned voice.
"Oh, no! No! It's not like that!" Ava said, fishing the note from her coat pocket. "I bought this coat from a vintage store today, and I found this note."
Agnes took the note, looked at it, and nodded, a more believable smile forming on her face.
"Yeah, he was here yesterday, told me the whole story. He waited for 6 hours before leaving. I could tell that he was sad that she didn't show up."
Ava felt sad. "Did he leave a number? Some way to reach him?"
"No need, love," Agnes said as she pointed behind Ava. "He's back today."
Ava turned around and saw an older man sitting in one of the bench seats, his coat draped over a chair and a brown cap sitting on the table. His hair was patchy and white. He had a cup of coffee in front of him and he was looking outside through the window. He seemed calm, though his hand trembled a little.
"I guess after 20 years a few more days didn't seem so much to him," Agnes said.
"Thank you," Ava said, turning back to her.
"No problem. If you want that drink, you know where to find me," she said with a big smile as she turned around and went into the kitchen.
Ava cleared her throat, gathered her courage and walked over to the man.
"...Jack?" she said more quietly than she had expected.
The man turned his head towards her and his eyes widened as he saw her.
"I... I know that coat," he said with a soft voice.
"I thought you would," Ava said. "May I sit?"
"You look younger than I'd thought," Jack said, a smile appearing as he motioned for her to sit.
"I..." Ava was confused, worried that Jack might be as well, "I'm Ava."
"Nice to meet you, Ava. You're not the person I'd hoped for but I guess my gut feeling is probably right."
His face turned a little sad, though still friendly. It seemed he wasn't too surprised who he was here to meet wasn't going to show up.
"I don't know the details, I didn't know her, but I think she died a short while ago.. I just bought this coat today and found your note."
Jack nodded slowly and sighed. Then he perked up again.
"Ah, the note! Can I see? It's been so long."
Ava passed him the note, "I can tell you really cared about her. What was her name?"
"June. Our lives never really matched up, you know? I was single, she was taken, she was single, I was taken. We always cared about each other, but when I moved away with my family we agreed to meet up years later and just talk about everything we'd been through in the meantime."
"That sounds like you two really cared about each other."
"We did. Love doesn't always require being together. Though, don't get me wrong, I would have preferred that, but I wasn't about to stop caring just because that couldn't be."
Agnes came by to refill Jack's coffee, and Ava ordered a coke. They sat there and talked for over an hour. Jack told her all about June, and his travels, and he asked her about her life and how all of that was. Jack spoke very easily and was obviously a warm, caring person. Ava felt very comfortable talking to him, as she realized he reminded her of her own grandfather, who had died a few years before.
"I think it's time for me to go, however," Jack said as he finished his coffee and signaled to Agnes that she didn't need to come refill it this time. "One of my grandkids has his birthday in a few days and I want to get home and rest before that chaos tires me out again." He chuckled.
"It was really nice meeting you, Jack," Ava said.
"Likewise, Ava. This was a nice surprise. And thank you for letting me know."
"You're welcome, I'm glad I could help."
Jack got up, pulled his coat on and stuffed his white hair in his cap. He left some money on the table and waved to Agnes. He nodded to Ava and walked towards the exit. She looked at him go.
Before he opened the door he turned.
"By the way, that coat looks terrific on you. Almost as good as on June," he said with a grin.
Ava smiled as Jack nodded one last time and walked out.