The shop is dark and musty with incense. Your typical goth/grunge/punk/emo/whatever-you-wanna-call-it-I-don’t-do-labels-non-conformist shop. But this is Edinburgh, it still sells tartan. One store assistant is mohawked pink, the other bald. Both are covered with tattoos and piercings, staring at me and my Evanescence hoody with amused suspicion. Not because it’s summer, but because it’s Evanescence; they’re not really “metal” enough or whatever.
Whatever. It’s the trench coat I’m after. Long, black, leather. It’ll suit the New Rock boots I’m wearing. I was so happy in Skegness when I bought those boots. Dad insisted, even then, while I was striding along Skegness beach wearing those platform boots with bats on, that it was only a teenage phase. I’d grow out of it. Beneath my big toe, I swear I can still feel sand. Gritty in my teeth. I’ll never walk on the beach in them again.
I try the trench coat on. The coat engulfs me—like a shadow, I muse—and the sleeves are too long. It smells as if all the dust that had ever settled in the shop has found its final destination in the lining of this coat. £150. Weighs as much too. I’ll have no birthday-and-holiday-and-this-Christmas-coming money left if I buy it. Dad gives me that look—you know the one.
“Suits you laddie,” says Pink Mohawk. She stifles a laugh in her throat. “You look like The Matrixguy, wassizface? Kenya Reeves?”
I hate The Matrix, but even I know it’s Keanu.
“Aye, like tha’ Arnold Schwarzenegger fellah,” says the bald one.
I know I look nothing like Arnie, so I take the coat off, dress it on the hanger all skewwhiff, and put it back on the rack. They’re laughing as we leave the shop.
I think my Dad may be right, and there’s definitely sand in these boots.
Santino Prinzi is the Co-Director of National Flash Fiction Day in the UK, a Consulting Editor for New Flash Fiction Review, and is one of the founding organizers of the annual Flash Fiction Festival. His flash fiction pamphlet, There’s Something Macrocosmic About All of This (2018), is available from V-Press, and his short flash collection, Dots and other flashes of perception (2016), is available from The Nottingham Review Press.