I’m driving down Jericho, the turnpike of my teenage years. It used to outline the fringes of my world, back when I still believed I would live on the island forever. I’m driving, Taylor Swift’s voice is dragged onto the radio, its edges fuzzy with static. I notice the way the midday light drops in shards on my suede jacket, the one I bought from a resale shop in Illinois for $25. It’s oversized, a little worn on the inside of the wrists, as if they were continuously rubbed against a desk while writing. It found me, sitting on a rack in the back corner of the store, behind the red mug that was too small for a full cup of coffee. As the jacket drapes over me, I wonder who loved it before me.
Did she drive down the streets of her childhood, mind embedded with their bends and jolts? Did she go through the motions automatically, knowing to make a full stop at the corner of Spruce because of the officer that camped out there on Tuesday nights?
Perhaps she came home, hair short and scattered, locks lost to her sixteen-year-old self. Her mom might have complained that it was too greasy on the bottoms, and she would have sighed because it was too much effort to explain that she no longer had the patience to wash out her conditioner. Maybe her little sister grew up while she was away, hair in mermaid waves down to her waist, mascara licking up her lashes. She could be scared of this, or numb to it now. The room she grew up in is morphed and distant, like something out of a photo album. Both familiar and foreign, awfully accurate about the past but grainy all the same.
Maybe she too showed a couple friends the stories she’d been editing, tirelessly, until only the pulps of their original content remained. Asking them what now?
Or perhaps she didn’t have any writing at all, and the sleeves were worn out from her dog stealing it before work, or from scrubbing other people’s kitchen floors. Maybe she wore it over her white party dress, red wine dipping dangerously at the rims of the glass. Or perhaps it was reserved for sitting around a fire with those boys that her college roommate hated and her father had warned her about. She would return to her room that night, carrying with her the smell of smoke and of men.
Or perhaps she noticed the glimmer of autumn gold along the steering wheel. She let it engulf her, let it blind her for a moment.
As if she was a star, encased in a suede jacket.
By Danielle Fusaro