Chapter 16

Jenny stood at the front door in nothing more than her fur coat. Carol, Cass and Jo stood there in jeans and shirts, staring at her with their mouth s hanging open. Jenny stepped back and Carol squealed. They ran to her, feeling the smoothness of the fur, all talking at once.

“Oh, Jenny, you look like a queen.  I could cry. I’ve got to try it on, please, please,” Carol pleaded. She made a grab for the coat, exposing Jenny’s bare leg. ”What’s this,” she feigned surprise. “Me thinks the lady isn’t a lady,” she said archly and laughter filled the room. Jenny turned bright pink and excused herself. Turning the corner of the hall, she waved a bare arm, stuck out a long leg and quickly tossed the coat to Carol.

“I’m sure it will be too long, but I can have the bottom made into a stole.” She marched back and forth and stared at herself in the hall mirror. “I could just see Pete. He’d be green with jealousy. He’s so afraid I’d fall for another man.” She laughed self-consciously.

‘”My turn,” Cass took her turn in front of the mirror. “I’m not the fur type,” she covered her jeans. “Hank would think I’ve flipped. I can’t quite picture a coat like this with grape juice dripping down the sleeve or chocolate on the shoulder.” She smiled wistfully.

Jenny came back into the room. “Your turn, Jo.” She put the fur around her shoulders and stepped back in frank admiration. “It seems very right for you. It fits your personality. We can’t let Gus see it or he’d make a bid.”

“Yeah, he would really turn his head if he saw me in this. I’d like to borrow it some night to wear to bed,” she said half to herself, blushing when she realized she had been overheard. She raised her head, “What do you say, Jen, Can I borrow it sometime?”

“I may not have it long enough for anyone to wear it, including me. Today I’m permitting myself to look at it.” She gave Jo a poke. Gus loves you, silly.” She turned to all of them. “You guys are bloodhounds. Couldn’t wait until the delivery man left, huh? You must have had this place staked out with opera glasses.”

Carol sat down, still staring at the coat. “I hope you’re kidding, Jenny, about returning the coat. This has become a symbol of our liberation, to even know someone who has become…well almost inspirational.” She had a far off look in her eyes.

“I know. We could pool our money and own interest in it and all wear it,” Jo screamed.

“That’s no good,” Carol said at once, “I can’t even get beyond this month’s bills. We couldn’t possibly raise that much money.”

They filed out of the house with more somber expressions on their faces thaN Jenny would have imagined after trying on the coat.

Dirty breakfast dishes were still in the sink and the supper still in the grocery store. Jenny lay on the sofa enveloped in the fur, oblivious to the car door that had just slammed outside. Jim stood looking down at her.

“You can’t keep it, you know. Take it off,” he yelled, “You can’t keep it,” his voice took on a hysterical quality, and he punched a pillow at the foot of the sofa. He grabbed Jenny and yanked at the coat. “You have no business putting it on. You’re acting like a tramp.”

Jenny cried out and ran into the bedroom and slammed the door behind her. Her face in the mirror was filled with shame and disbelief. Jim had no reason to talk to her like that, no  reason at all.