her grandmother’s hand feels like an overripe peach and there’s not much behind her glossy eyes. the nursing home smells like disinfectant and the powdery smell of old women. jane tucks her feet under her chair as she watches the vacant stare on her grandmother’s face and wonders if her grandmother will notice when she stops coming. the soft buzz of television and the chatter of nurses feels very far away and the room feels too big for the two of them. jane’s grandmother raised her when her own parents were too drunk or coked up to remember they had even had a daughter and her first, second, third stroke had left her soft and empty. jane kisses her forehead, leaving a strawberry-colored mark on her grandmother’s pale skin and she slips a paperweight from the nurse’s desk into the pocket of her dress
the coat is heavy and camel-colored and hangs off jane’s small figure, nearly obscuring her. the collar nestles under her ears and she’s warm, even in the chill of the dusty second-hand shop down the street, with the watery-eyed cashier who watches her suspiciously and waits for his cigarette break. the weight is comforting and she hugs it in closer to her before removing it and stroking the shiny polyester lining. jane waits a few minutes before she pulls out a bundle of carefully stacked bills and quietly buys the overcoat without making eye contact.
at home, jane’s neat handwriting fills the last page of the journal she’s been keeping for the past few months. from her desk drawer she pulls two more of the same. the details of her life coat the pages and it occurs to her how small, how ordered, how utterly unremarkable her days have been. this elicits no real emotion and jane pours herself a half glass of wine and lies on the couch, fully clothed, and breathes so slowly her chest hardly moves. she wonders if it will hurt.
she places the coat on her neatly-made bed and stands in front of her bathroom mirror. her hair is long enough to touch the waistband of her skirt and it tangles over her shoulders and back like a mass of seaweed before she gathers it into a ponytail and snips it off, just beneath her ears. there’s nearly ten inches of her soft hair in her fist and in the mirror jane looks sharper and meaner than before. she takes the same scissors and cuts a slit in the hem of the coat and drops the hair into the space between the lining and the thick wool. next falls the paperweight, the journals, a bottle of pills she will no longer take twice daily. the coat is sewn up with small, neat stitches.
down the road from the home is a wide stretch of anemic sand and silvery water. the breeze off the ocean tugs and twists the coat like the hands of insistent children yet jane walks solidly on, feeling more opaque than she has in years. the rocks along the beach are smooth and slightly warm from the sun and she slips the most beautiful into her pockets as she nears the sleepy waves of the shore. jane never stops walking. her shoes are the first to become soaked but soon the water infiltrates her hemline, her waist, her chest, her neck. the short strands of her once flowing hair float momentarily before the water slips over her head like a sheet. jane’s body does not float, does not struggle, does not resurface.