"I forgot," she said. She came out of the sewing room with a wide smile on her face.
"You forgot what?" I asked.
"I forgot how good it feels," she said. Her smile left her face and enveloped me.
"How good what feels?" I asked. It was mid-morning, so it couldn't have been sleeping or eating.
"Quilting feels good?" I tried to imagine the feeling, but I couldn't.
"I haven't worked on the quilt in a long time. I just forgot what a good feeling it is when I sit down at the machine and begin quilting. It seems like it's been forever."
Actually it had only been since yesterday. We had been shopping, in and out, going to the mall, walking through the park, packing for a weekend trip. During that whole time she had been well-behaved. That is, though she didn't quilt, she didn't whimper, she didn't cry, she didn't scream in agony from withdrawal pains. At that moment she was dancing in the hallway.
"You look cheerful," I observed as she twirled around.
"I'm just about to use that fabric that came in the mail Saturday. It's been waiting five days, and it looks so sad."
"I didn't know fabric could look sad," I said. What did I know?
"Fabric can get sad and lonely and depressed. If you quilted, you'd know that," she admonished.
"Which fabric is it?"
"The blue fabric for the border of the new Friendship Star quilt," she said.
"And the fabric is sad?"
"It's been waiting too long. Sometimes I can hear the fabric in my mind. It says, "Quilt me up."
"Quilt me up? It actually says that?"
"Now you think I'm being silly," she said, pouting her lips just enough to make me feel ashamed.
"No, no I don't. I was just wondering about all that other fabric that's been in your closet for months. How do you know which fabric is the saddest?"
"Some fabric never gets sad," she said. "Some gets very sad. You just have to check now and then.
"And you can tell which is sad and which is happy?" I asked.
"Anyone who quilts knows," she said. "You can tell when you're quilting how the fabric is feeling. When I'm done with a strip or a triangle or a block or a sashing or a border or a binding, I can feel the joy. And then I feel happy, too."
"And you're happy now?"
"As soon as I started, I began to feel the joy," she said.
"In just one day you forgot the joy?"
"One day's a long time for a quilter. Is forgot how good it feels."
"Show me the fabric," I said. I would investigate this psychic fabric phenomenon.
"It's just a piece of fabric," she said, her smile now back on her face.
"I want to see it," I said firmly. She looked at me. "Please," I added.
"It won't do any good. You don't have enough faith."
"It's a religion now?"
"It's a quilting religion."
"Are there prayers?"
"There are always prayers. I pray that what I'm quilting will come out right, and I give prayers of thanks when it does."
"I thought you were just talking to yourself. You were talking to the fabric then?"
"Don't laugh. Sometimes it helps. I hear you talking to your computer. And what about that sad face that comes on the screen when something goes wrong?"
"That's just an alert," I said. She was right. Sometimes my computer is sad. But I couldn't give in. "Show me the fabric."
"Here," she said, and she handed me the several strips of the fabric she had ripped from the three yard length of dark blue Sympatico. (Yes, that's the actual name.) I looked at it, took it in my hands, felt it, smelled it, and looked for signs of dismay.
"This just looks like ordinary fabric," I said. I felt out of it.
"The fabric's not sad now. Actually, it's feeling pretty chipper," she said.
"Cheerful. In good spirits." she explained.
"What about the pieces you're not using. The leftover scraps?"
"They're feeling just the same. It's a family thing."
"I think I need to go check on my computer," I said.
"Go ahead. I have to go visit the batting, to let it know that I'm back quilting again."
"Say hello for me," I said. Strangely, I think I meant that. I still wasn't sure what was going on between her and the fabric, but I had faith in her, so I guess that's all I needed. In the meantime, I went to see if my computer missed me. I didn't want any sad faces in my life.
Copyright 1999 by A.B. Silver
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