February 27, 2009

The Coat
Robert Aquino Dollesin

He enters the bedroom and smells a faint trace of breast milk and talcum powder. From the mobile above the crib, plastic circus animals clack against one another. His wife is tucked into the window alcove, staring out at the rain. Her face is lit by the yellow glow of the tasseled lamp beside her. She has on the same faded housedress she's been wearing for days.

He crosses the room, stands before her, and says, "I have to go back to work this morning."

She doesn't turn from watching the rain fall outside the window. He reaches for her, but she draws away, wraps her arms around her knees and says, "I'm sorry I didn't come down to make your breakfast."

"I don't have much of an appetite, anyway."

"I'm sorry I didn't come down to help you on with your coat."

His coat? He remembers it's still downstairs, draped over the kitchen chair where he left it yesterday when he didn't go out. "The coat's not important," he says.

Several moments pass before she snaps her head up to stare at him, her eyes big in the glow of the lamp. "What are you saying?" she says. "It's important to me." She raises her hands and shakes her head, as if lost. "Helping you on with your coat is important to me."

The rain continues to tick against the window. He knows he can't leave the house yet, not for another few days.


Robert Aquino Dollesin was just a kid when he left the Philippines. He now resides in Sacramento, where he occasionally jots a few words down in one of many, many notebooks. He sometimes blogs here.

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