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The Coat

Madeline Truong

Isobelle Carmody Award

For Creative Writing


I looked at him. Kill in cold blood, I thought. Just another one. He lay draped

over the icy, unforgiving concrete. His limbs fell around him and his soul broke

apart, shattering on the hard footpath. The yellow star branded into him shone

far too brightly against his wilting ashen-grey skin. It seemed like every breath

would cause cracks to spring up his body like a porcelain doll. His lungs fought to

drag in and hold each laborious breath, before it spilled out again.

I invited the trigger closer into the involuntary jerk of my index finger. He

didn’t even realise his life was about to be snuffed out. Instead, he just heaved his

head up off the pavement and looked at me. Piercing me with those strangely

luminous hazel eyes – forcing me to look behind the bruised and beaten skin that

clothed him. And then, I remembered…

It was a soggy, melancholic day in Ichenhausen–Nazi Germany

1935; the kind that seemed to sag at the edges and to be splashed

with a watery grey paint. But despite the depressing weather, my

seven-and-three-months-year-old self couldn’t have been any

happier. This was due to the plain fact that I was with my best friend,


I had everything except the eyes. My mother was considered

Aryan, so naturally, my hair resembled a smashed cheesecake with a

lavish topping of fresh straw. But my eyes, they were Gypsy eyes – a

dangerously deep brown.

It was on one of these regularly miserable days in which we were

undergoing our favourite activity: collecting buttons. Both of us

were unashamedly proud of our collection, as pitiful as it was.

That day, Youssef was animatedly recounting anything and

everything – as only seven year olds can. Like me, he had nearly

everything. He had sharp cheekbones and freckles that always had

the appearance of being hastily sprinkled on top at the last minute.

His hair was a muddy blonde but with strange streaks of brown

lining his scalp underneath the curls. His eyes were deceptive too–

a nutty green, that could be referred to as hazel depending on if you

were a glass half full or a glass half empty sort of person.

I nodded fervently in agreement. It was then, that it tugged

gently on the sleeve of my curiosity.

‘Look, Youssef,’

Dozing in the gutter was an unfamiliar button. As scratched and

bruised as it was, we could both identify the colour of blood topped