Originally written for a friend. There’s a crick in my neck, and I think that’s what wakes me—the discomf ...
A Hoodie for the Holidays
Originally featured in the Gay Apparel holiday charity anthology.
Riley stared out the window, watching her first snowfall in years. She’d forgotten the way it muffled everything, the odd not-quite silence that it wrapped the world in. The way the cold made everything sharper, clearer, even while it blanketed everything. There was nothing quite like it. She shivered, wrapping the ratty old hoodie she wore tighter. Stepping away from the window would help with the chill, but Riley didn’t care. She wanted to watch the snow.
She’d missed it.
“Regretting leaving Florida already?”
Riley smiled as warm arms circled her, letting herself relax against Erin’s taller body. “Nope. Thinking about how I’d missed this.”
Erin bent her head to place a soft kiss to Riley’s neck, her lips curving up in a smile. “You hate the cold.”
Riley didn’t answer, just kept watching big fluffy flakes fall past the glass. It was heavy enough she could barely see the tree line a few hundred feet away. The mountain view they’d had just that morning was nowhere to be seen. She shivered again.
“Why are you wearing my worn-out old hoodie? I know you have warmer ones.” Erin plucked at the faded, threadbare material. It had been black once, but it was more of a dingy dark grey after countless years and washes. The logo embroidery had all but dissolved off, the sleeves had both been stitched up and worn through again. The hem and cuffs were tattered and had lost their elasticity ages ago. “No wonder you’re shivering.”
Turning her head, Riley kissed Erin on the cheek. “You remember our first Christmas?”
Erin chuckled, tightening her hold. “I remember. It snowed a lot like this. Our flights were canceled, roads were closed. Mom was so disappointed, she really wanted to meet you.”
Riley nodded. “That old apartment was so drafty we ended up spending almost the whole day huddled under the covers and watching movies.”
“Probably my favorite holiday ever.”
“You wrapped me up in your favorite hoodie so I’d stop complaining about the cold. This hoodie.”
Erin gently tugged at a loose thread on one cuff, her lips twitching into the secret smile Riley loved. “It wasn’t because you were complaining.”
“Oh really.” Riley’s voice dripped with amused disbelief. “I’m pretty sure it was.”
Letting go of the loose threads and shredded cuff, Erin carefully wound the fingers of the left hands together. Matching rings glinted in the light of the fire to their side. “Really.” She’d never forgotten the way her eyes lit up when she’d wrapped it around her. Riley had hardly taken the hoodie off for years after, and it had simply become hers. Just like Erin had.
Smiling, Erin kissed the side of Riley’s head, and then buried her face in dark curls. “I gave it to you because I already knew I loved you. I just didn’t know how to say it yet.”
Riley’s expression went soft as she leaned into her wife. “You gave me your favorite hoodie because you didn’t know how to tell me you loved me?”
“So it could hold you when I wasn’t around.”
Riley turned and kissed her properly. “You are the sappiest person I’ve ever met, and I love you.”
“I love you too.” Erin reached behind herself and grabbed a wrapped present, pushing it into Riley’s hands. “Which is why I got you this.”
Riley’s eyes narrowed, but her smile widened. The package crinkled and squished in her grip. “Christmas isn’t until next week.”
“I know. Open it anyway.”
With a look of glee, Riley tore the paper away, revealing exactly what she expected—a brand new, updated version of the tattered hoodie she wore. Deep black material, bright new embroidery, cuffs that would actually keep the heat in. Riley hugged it, and then hugged her wife. “You’re ridiculous. I love it. Thank you.”
Erin held her tight. “Can I have my old one back now?”
Riley laughed. “Never.”