Written to ‘s prompt. This comes after Tangles and Knots, Snarls and Combs.
There were bits of Tattercoats everywhere.
Sometimes literally: pieces of his coat tended to come off in the strangest places, so that he was always sewing on new bits. Sometimes figuratively: a book he’d left in her place or a letter he’d written, the smell of his particular musk in a blanket she’d put away.
Autumn did not know exactly what had happened.
She knew that Tattercoats had precipitously left Faire without a fare-thee-well or anything but the forwarding address of the itinerant courier network. She knew she was done with him, as if she’d woken up one morning and understood that pining was shredding her to pieces and she really needed to pick herself up and stop hurting so much.
The radio had played The Gambler and Autumn had nodded as if Kenny Rogers had been speaking right to her. Know when to walk away. Know when to run.
She burned his letters in the Moot Fire that they held every Thursday night to rid the air of “shit, drama, the modern, and the miserable.” But she could still close her eyes and see that ridiculous smile. She could still reach over to the nightstand and see the little jewelry box he’d sent her for Christmas.
She sold the ring to a pawn shop and gave the money to a hunger campaign. She dropped the skirt and the corset he’d given her in the Salvo box. Maybe in a Faire town, someone would find a use for them. The other gifts went to used book sales, sometimes the Salvo or Goodwill, a church rummage sale.
That left the things that belonged to him. A carved figure he’d bought from a vendor. Three DVDs he’d brought over to watch and then left in her van. A book on figure drawing that she was pretty sure he’d stolen. A vest of his. His underwear. A long green ribbon she was pretty sure was a token from another lover.
She burned the underwear, to a great deal of groaning, moaning, and laughing, using the longest tongs she could find.
The rest she wrapped up.
Three layers of shrinkwrap and then two layers of duct tape.
For every two items, then in a box. Duct taped. Then wrapped carefully in butcher paper with more tape than any three parcels needed.
She had a friend with curly, swirling, girly handwriting address the boxes, and then each one went with a different itinerant courier to a different drop spot.
They had to be light, of course. She wanted to be careful, because the drop spots sometimes got wet. Of course.
She wanted to irritate him, to get under his skin and make him twitchy, the way he was under her skin, the way she couldn’t quite wash him out.
She drew a long pattern of empty open roads and paths she hadn’t yet walked along her entire body, wrote his name on a piece of paper in her best handwriting, and drew a sketchy portrait that took in what she could remember of him.
She stood in the rain until the pattern she’d drawn on herself washed into the earth, watering the ground with her ink and her hopes and setting them free.
She stood by the fire and watched his face burn until it was ashes, and finally felt free.