19 year old writer from Atlanta, Georgia. Rotates between reading old European translations and watching basketball. "Would You Like My Jacket" is in Short Circuit #14, Short Édition's quarterly review.

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I had just gotten out of the gas station and bought what I usually bought on my little Sunday night trips—a pack of reds, a water bottle (one of the purified waters. Spring water is quite gross to me and Michigan tap is awful), and a chocolate depending on my mood. There was this European white chocolate they were selling this week that wasn't there before. I can't remember the name but it was amazing. It was like a bar of straight white chocolate with an etching on it and one of those colorful Kinder-like wrappers (it was not Kinder). I decided to buy two and the cashier was mad at me for eating one before I paid for it which I don't really understand. I left to smoke a cigarette outside when I saw an older woman shivering alone by the gas station. She caught me staring at her and scowled at me as we began our dialogue:
 
?: Can I help you?
Me: Aren't you cold?
?: What?
Me: I said, aren't you cold?
?: It's 30 degrees. Of course I'm cold.
Me: I'm cold, too. 
?: Thanks for letting me know kid.
Me: No problem, Miss.
 
The woman looked at me with a strange expression and then turned away. I was feeling like talking, though, so I kept on.
 
Me: I'm wearing a jacket and I'm cold, so I can't imagine how cold you must be.
 
The woman snapped her head at me and scowled. 
 
?: You just want to sit here and remind me how fucking cold I am? You think I don't know I'm cold? 
 
(I was beginning to sense that this lady was not enjoying our conversation) 
 
Me: No, not at all, Miss. I just know that I'm cold and you're cold, so we have that in common.
?: Everybody outside right now is cold. 
Me: Isn't that fascinating!
?: What? That people get cold?
Me: That everybody outside right now is cold. Or at least everybody outside that's relatively near us. I'm sure there's somebody in a desert right now that's outside who isn't very cold. Like I can't imagine a Moroccan being cold right now. But many many people, millions of them, are cold right at the same time we are. 
?: Is there something wrong with you?
 
I get asked this a lot. I dislike the question, so I ignore it. 
 
Me: Would you like my jacket? It might help with the cold.
?: What?
Me: I'd like to give you my jacket.
 
She paused and looked at me strangely again. 
 
?: No, honey, you shouldn't do that. 
 
I think the woman began to think of me as mentally ill and changed her aggressive nature to one of sympathy and pity. 
 
Me: I'd like to, though. 
?: That jacket doesn't look cheap. You shouldn't just give expensive things away. 
Me: I don't know how much it was. It could be very cheap for all I know. 
?: You don't know how much your own jacket was?
Me: No, Miss. It was a gift. From my mother.
?: Now would your mother like you giving the jacket she got you to a random homeless woman?
Me: I don't think she'd care much. She's dead now. 
 
The woman's face softened. She looked like she cared. 
 
?: I'm so sorry to hear that. 
Me: It's okay.
?: A young man like you... without a mother... I can't imagine. I can't imagine.
Me: It's okay. 
?: How old are you, sweetie? If you don't mind me asking? 
Me: I'm 20 years old.
 
I used a fake ID to buy the cigarettes from the gas station. 
 
?: Only 20 years old! Without a mother! But you have a family, right?
Me: I have a little sister. 
?: And your father?
Me: No. No father.
?: Did he pass, too?
Me: No. I never knew him.
?: And your sister? How old is she? 
Me: She's in 8th grade now. Very very smart girl. She studies at a high school level and is president of her middle school's honor society. 
?: So... there are 7 years between you two? 
Me: Yes.
?: Do you two have the same father?
Me: No.
?: I see. And does she remember your mother?
Me: Of course. Mom died Wednesday. 
 
The woman paused longer now. She seemed confused. I think she thought I was in shock or something. 
 
?: Today is Friday. You're telling me your mother passed two days ago? 
Me: Yes.
?: I am so sorry for your loss. 
Me: It's okay. 
 
She had already given me her condolences. 
 
Me: Is your mother alive?
?: No. She died ten years ago. 
 
Now I could give my condolences. So I did. 
 
?: Thank you. 
Me: So would you like my jacket? 
?: Honey, I can't take the jacket.
Me: I think you should. I'm cold with the jacket on, right? And you're cold without the jacket on. If I take it off, I'll still be cold, but if you put it on you could be warm. 
?: It was a gift from your mother. She gave this to you because she loved you. Don't you want to keep it? To remember that?
Me: My mom still loves me.
 
The woman sat quietly and looked down. She didn't respond to the comment. But she looked very sad. I was worried I hurt her. I'd finished my cigarette, so I sat next to her and lit up another one. I didn't offer her one because I knew she didn't smoke. I asked her for her name. 
 
Carrie: I'm okay being cold, I think.
Isaac: Okay. Well I'm going to leave this jacket here, just in case. Okay? 
 
Carrie nodded her head. 
 
Isaac: Would you like something from the gas station? 
Carrie: I'm okay. I think I'll go to sleep. 
Isaac: Okay. Well it was nice talking to you. 
 
Carrie smiled and nodded her head. 
 
Carrie: Likewise. 
 
I felt awful. I shouldn't have mentioned my mother. I should have just kept it about the cold. I had really upset her. I asked her if I could hug her. She nodded her head. We held each other and both were Moroccan for a little bit. 
 
-Isaac Kittler

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