“The Raincoat” by Ayla Fudala

Dad had given her the raincoat before.  It was green on the outside and had an army pattern on the inside.  He said it had been his, but now it was for Tracey.  Right now it was tied by the arms between two white pines, and it was doing a bad job of keeping off the rain.  Tracey had made camp with the things she had brought from the house—two blankets over the ground, a Capri Sun to drink, a comic to read, and the raincoat as a roof—but she wished she’d had time to bring more.  The blankets were cold and wet, and the wind kept blowing the rain in under the raincoat.  The Capri Sun was almost empty, and soon she would have to start foraging to survive.  She remembered what Dad had told her—she could eat wintergreen berries and chew their leaves, crush acorns into flour, and eat huckleberries when they were in season.  But right now it was late fall, and everything was all shriveled up and dead.  Tracey thought longingly of her soft warm bed in the house, of her stuffed rabbit Jemima and the orange cat Samson that sometimes curled up next to her pillow.  Maybe if she just went back and said sorry, Mom would say it was alright, and make her hot cocoa and pancakes like she used to when she was little and they fought.

But she couldn’t, she didn’t want Mom’s pancakes.  She’d rather live the rest of her life as a savage in the woods eating acorns than go back there and beg for Mom to let her in.  Mom hated her, and she hated Dad, and now Dad was gone because of her.  Tracey didn’t care what Mom said Dad had done, why she kicked him out, because Mom was a liar.  Dad had told her so last month when they had gone camping the last time.  He had said, “Tracey, your mother and I are having some issues right now.  She’s going to tell you some very mean things about me.  But I want you to remember that they’re not true.  Your mother is a liar.”

The rain was blowing in very hard now, and the raincoat wasn’t helping at all.  Tracey’s hands felt numb, and she couldn’t stop shivering.  She tried to read the comic, but the pages had gotten damp, and the words were all bleeding together.  Far away, she could hear Mom calling her name.  “Traaayyy—Seeaaa! Baby, where are you?” Tracey covered her ears, and then uncovered them.  Mom’s voice was a bit closer now.  “Honey, I’m so sorry.  Please come back inside.”  Tracey felt her eyes begin to water and shivered harder.  She started tearing little pieces off of the comic.  Then before she could stop herself, she was bawling, “Mom! Mommy, I’m here! I’m here!”  The raincoat fell to the ground as Tracey jumped up and started running back towards the house, and the brambles grew over it.

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