Tulips by Tammy Pineda

The Daily

Columns & Archives

Along with the daily feature articles from our columnists, read works from our past contributors in the categories of prose, poetry and visual art, alongside interviews and other musings.

 

Winter Coat by Eilish Mulholland

Photograph by Tammy Pineda (https://www.instagram.com/tnpineda/)

There is something about the smell of winter coats that demand your attention. At the first

sign of snow, they’re always unearthed from the back of the cupboard, shook out, and the

pockets dredged and fondled in a way that makes you realize that your new suede jacket

whilst immensely fashionable, isn’t going to serve you all too well when walking 2 miles

across town everyday to get to the bus station because you’re too poor to afford the cross

city bus.

It is when you wear this coat that you look upon others with envy. The snug, fashionable

ones who never have to wear a hood or hat or gloves of any kind and still manage to look

tastefully windswept as they jog across campus because their house is a footfall away from

university grounds. They have an altogether more tasteful wardrobe. You wear practical

clothing, dark denim, jeans, jumpers of various colours, patterns and knitted varieties and

sensible black lace up boots that give a hint of Gothic romanticism but are altogether too

nerdy to be considered totally chic. They wear the latest fashions. It’s cute summer dresses

with chunky cardigans, wearing a hat indoors all day because it looks chic, fluffy teddy bear

jackets, sheep’s wool coats, fur, tights, glitter and everything that doesn’t seem to belong in

a lecture hall but is made to work because they have an air of sophistication that makes you

ache for that same carefree sensuousness. You had never really tried to be like them.

Once,

only once did you seek to imitate them by wearing a skirt to university. You were meeting up with a school friend after class for drinks and wanted to look sophisticated and arty. It was a purple

skirt purchased some years before with a ruffled hem and a long slit up to the knee so it

flashed a tiny amount of leg anytime you crossed your ankles at your desk. You remember

feeling sexy. Sitting there, taking notes on James Joyce’s Ulysses, crossing and uncrossing

your legs and talking about stream of consciousness as a literary technique, you caught the

eye of your professor who was sitting at the front of the room. There was an unspoken

atmosphere. You could feel his eyes observing your form, mentally taking note of your

change of uniform and the gash of red lipstick before resting on your legs and raising an

eyebrow in a bemused, yawning fashion, you suddenly felt very naked and exposed. The

flounce of the skirt seemed too unnatural for your slouched form, the fact that numerous

students had audibly said you looked good before class now seemed pathetic. All this had

seemed to make you believe you were oozing some raw sensuality that stunk of hot, mid-

afternoon sex and stale breath, but this metamorphosis only occurred when you took off your

coat. It was a long line, black-brown chesterfield affair you’d fallen in love with as a young

student in the back end of a vintage shop. The lining was dark, burnt up like bog peat and

inside you found an old fashioned ticket from a hotel in Dublin that made you think it was

from a fancy woman’s wardrobe off the Malone Avenue. It was sacred, warm and also

comically large around your body because you were built like a piece of futuristic art. Your

arms and legs were long and spindly. Your torso was short, curling off at the pelvis with a

hint of hip bone and fat that made you feel like a jointed doll. Your chest was small, delicate

and prone to bouts of pretty lingerie filled with gaping cups, lace and elastic in a pathetic

attempt to accept them for their loveliness but it still always felt like you should have grown

up with no breasts at all because they seemed to stick out from the rest of you. Large, moon

shaped on account of the padded underwear your mother brought you, it felt noticeable until

you crossed your arms or playfully pressed at the mound of air that shaped your decolletage

and remembered that your breasts looked flat because they were flat. A previous boyfriend

had described them once as a set of teacup saucers because they had a round edge, sat

high up on your rib cage and were their fullest at the edge of your rib cage, stretching out

their circumference like two pebbles before they pooled into the rest of your skin. Small,

unnoticeable, less than a handful and very incapable of performing any acts of manual

stimulation or suffocation, he left you soon afterwards for a buxom horse rider whose tits had

such volume you looked upon her with constant jealousy and disgust. The coat hid all that. It

was formless, it hung from your frame like a hanger, capable of obscuring everything from

anyone's gaze because it was a rich wool fiber, a perfect blindfold fabric. Your friends teased

you and called it your carpet coat but you knew they were secretly jealous of it. Once when

you’d been at a poetry event one night and had drunk too many lemonade and gin mixers,

you’d come back from the bathroom to find your friend enveloped in its chocolate wrapper

folds. You felt a wave of jealousy sweep through you, a deep possessive feeling that made

you want to tear the coat off of them and spit at their heels for the feeling of their body that

the coat would hold from its last embrace. Treasonous, fouled. All these words swam up into

your mouth and you felt yourself becoming unwell, feverish almost at the face of such

insanity.

You began to take slow, delicate steps, watching your friend cross the room to the bar and

back, earning pets and glances from the other revelers as your coat swished over her

shoulders. On her it had become a gown that sparkled under the club lights. Shifting from

hues of lilac, amber and red she looked like a dancer. Her hair seemed darker, more

sensuous and she seemed to be swaying her hips backwards and forwards to the music.

She was stroking the coat, embracing it, letting the sleeves drop against her hips, playfully

touching the collar with the tips of her fingers, kissing the buttons and letting the belt trail

between he