"I have work to do," she said as I stood by the floor to her sewing room. She was seated in front of her sewing machine. Her voice came out of her charming mouth, bounced off the chain of triangles she was running through the machine, and careened off the side wall back to me. I guessed that she was working on another quilt.
"You have to get out," I said. She had been working in her room for three days without much of a break except for food and sleep and the necessary but unwelcome trip to the well-euphemized "rest-room." It was the only place she might have rested, but I doubted it.
"I will," she said, adding in a whisper about three seconds later, "eventually."
"It's gorgeous out today and the air is clean and you need to get out of that room," I said, first kindly then more emphatically.
"I have a window. I can see outside," she said. She did have a window, but the shade was down to block out the brilliant sun, and the only light in the room came from the lights over her sewing machine and ironing board. I walked into the room and pulled up the shade.
"Look outside," I said. You've been locked in this room forever. It's not good for your health. It's probably not good for your quilting." Actually, I don't think any kind of deprivation would interfere with the quality of her quilts.
She lifted her head, cast a quick glance out the window, and went back to her work. "It's nice," she said, but she made no effort to move away from her work.
"I'm turning off the electricity," I said. "You won't be able to quilt," I added dramatically but futilely.
"I can always cut strips of fabric," she said. "And besides, your computer would be off. The refrigerator would be off. Everything you love would be off."
"All right. I give up," I said. But I lied. I moved quickly behind her chair, thrust my hands under her arms, clutched her tightly, and lifted her bodily out of the chair.
She screamed in alarm. "What are you doing?" she asked.
"I'm taking you out of here. You've been inside too long. It's for your own good," I said as I dragged her backwards across the floor. Then I released her long enough to lower my hold on her and lift her up and over my shoulder. I was very glad she weighed less than a pound of feathers.
"Stop it," she said. She was not kicking me or trying to break free. She had her arms thrust out toward the sewing machine, a chain of triangular flags of fabric fluttering, her body trying to get back to where she belonged, but I held her tight in my husbandly grasp. I carried her out of the room, down the hall, and out the front door to the front lawn. There I released her. She held the strip of triangles tightly to her chest.
"OK. I'm outside," she said calmly as she stood free. "It's very nice outside," she said. I relaxed. She would take a deep breath of the almost-spring air, take in the sight of the leaves begin to burst out on the trees running down our block, smell the freshness of the tulips and daffodils blooming around our neighborhood, and then she would be blissful.
Instead, she looked at me, smiled, and turned to run back into the house. A Jaguar, the car or the animal, could not have been faster. She was a comic book blur of speed, a contrail of white behind her as she ran back into the house. "I've got quilting to do," she sang in victory as she entered the house and slammed the door behind her. I chased after her, to catch her and bring her back. But I was too slow.
And, of course, the door was locked. But I had a key. I took my time. I knew where to find her. I opened the door and went down the hall to her sewing room. That door, too, was locked. "Honey, let me in," I said.
The door had a lock, but that lock had not been used in close to twenty years, not since our son used it to lock out his brother for privacy. I banged loudly, desperately, on that locked door.
"Go away," she said.
"Let me in."
"You need fresh air." I could try logic.
"I just had some."
"I took a deep breath. It will last me until I'm finished my project."
"How long will that be?"
"About three weeks."
"And I won't see you for three weeks."
"I'll let you see me if you promise not to kidnap me again."
"But you need to get out. You'll waste away in there without sunshine. No vitamin D and you're bones will crumble."
"I have my vitamins."
"What kind of vitamins do you have in there?" I asked. Her vitamins were in the kitchen and when she came out to get them I might have another chance to help her back to sanity.
"Quilting vitamins," she answered.
"What?" I asked. Maybe the door was muffling her words. Maybe my ears were clogged.
"I need my strength to quilt," she said. "Now do you promise to leave me alone until I finish?"
Defeated, I agreed. "All right."
"Good, now why don't you go out for a walk. The fresh air will do you good," she said.
"I think I will," I said, and I did, and it was beautiful out. It still is. And I am waiting. I am still waiting. What kind of quilt takes three weeks?
Copyright 1999 by A.B. Silver
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