Illustration: Zoe Cheng


I got a hand-me-down leather jacket from my sister earlier last year. It was black, slightly oversized, and despite the lack of zippers, a bit too flashy for my taste. My sister had rocked it, though. She wore it to school on most days in the fall and spring, and to all the community events she organized with the library, and then to all her spoken word nights. The only time I specifically don’t remember her wearing it was to her prom, when she wore a bright red suit, and then graduation, when she complained every moment about how hot it was in that gown.


It was stuck in the back of my closet for about a month before I looked at it again. I couldn’t donate it; it had meant too much to my sister. But I could wear it. So when the night was starless, save for one tiny red one, I wore it over my sweats on a night out with some friends. No one had said anything, although I was convinced someone would ask something. So I wore it the day after, and then the next. I started off with weekends at the park, and then to school, and then I joined a club at school and wore it there.


Months went by wearing my leather jacket. It was a comfort object to me. I wore it to my family get togethers, where all my aunts told me I looked just like my sister. I wore it for my presentations in class, and I noticed that I no longer dreaded it. I loved presenting. And so I wore it to my auditions, and it had become a part of me that I barely noticed anymore, but held so close to me.


About a year later, a month ago today, it disappeared from my closet. I’d worn it the night before, and I could have sworn I saw it at home that night, but it was gone. I searched every square foot of my home for that jacket. I went back to the park I’d gone to the night before. It was no longer my jacket. It was a stain in my memory. And it was bright, starry red.


Until today, I’d stopped going to my auditions. I felt vulnerable without it. I heard the waver in my voice whenever I spoke. I felt the awkward stillness in the air around me in every gathering. I saw the yellow in all the walls around me. But today, I want to see red again.