Hide and Seek




She was rummaging around in the junk drawer in the kitchen. She seemed to be muttering under her breath. She had both hands in the drawer and her head bent close to the mess in the drawer. We dropped everything into that drawer when we had something we didn't recognize or didn't use but were afraid to throw out. "I'm looking for the key," she said as I approached.

"Which key?" After living in the house for 35 years we had a lot of keys.

"The closet keys," she said.

"Why do you need the closet keys? Did the doors accidentally get locked?"

"No, I want to lock them."

You want to lock them?" We hadn't locked the closets since our children were old enough to understand the word "No" and pay attention to it. Before then, we locked the closets. We locked everything.

"We're having company," my Darling Wife said.

"You're locking the closets to keep our friends out of the closets?" Maybe she knew something about them I didn't know.

"I don't want to have to explain again," she said.

"Explain what?" I was in a maze of some kind and couldn't find my way out. Maybe I needed a key to what she was saying.

"I have to lock up my stash," she said. "Ah," she said then, and she pulled her right hand out of the drawer with a key locked between her fingers.

"Do you think someone is going to go into your closets and steal your stash?" Maybe she had sewing too much on her mind again. When she did, there was no explaining her mind-set.

"No one's going to steal anything," she said. "We don't have any friends like that."

Now, I could have asked again about the key and locking the closets, but instead I waited for her to continue on her own. No use rushing this. I followed her down the hall and watched as she locked the first closet door.

"They may forget where the bathroom is and open a closet by mistake."

"And?" I gently prodded.

"And then they'd see that the closet was full of stash."

"So?" I knew the answer to that.

"So, they might go look in the other closet."


"And that closet and the bedroom closet and the other closets are all full of stash."

"You have a lot of fabric," I said. And not only in the closets. Under the beds, on the bookshelves, in the cupboards, in filing cabinets. Everywhere.

"That reminds me. I need to have you put up some curtains to hide the stash under the table in the living room."


"Just until they all leave. I don't want them to ask me why I need to have so much fabric."

"You want me to put curtains on the table to hide your fabric. And what else?" There had to be a "What else?"

"Lock the file cabinets and put some towels in front of the fat quarters in the bathroom cupboard. And after that help me move some of the new paper-piecing patterns I bought and put them under our bed. Then, the boxes of quilting thread can go under the computer desk and behind the stationery cabinets." She paused, but not for long. She tossed me a puzzled look. "Do you think they'll look in the back of the refrigerator?"

"You don't have fabric in the refrigerator, do you?"

"I have some stabilizer in there I made from the scraps of Solvy," she admitted. "I have to hide everything."

"All of that so you don't have to explain why you have so much stash?" I looked at her as she locked the second closet. "Why are we having company over if you don't want to talk to anyone?"

"I want to talk to everyone. But I don't want to have to try to explain why I have all the fabric. They won't understand."

"Just tell them you sew a lot," I said. "They know you sew." Of course, she would have to sew and quilt and embroider until she was 234 years old to use all her stash, but our friends would understand that. Wouldn't they?

"You just don't understand all the questions they'll ask. They'll want to know what I need with ten shades of red or twelve tones of blues and why all the solids and why the plaids and why the reproduction fabrics from the 30's and 40's and why all the cute animal fabric, and I can't explain it just like that."

"Do you want me to explain it for you? I'll just tell them you like fabric."

That made sense to me. I was following her around the house then as she locked cabinets and draped towels over some plastic storage drawers.

"But then they'll ask you to tell them why I like fabric and why I need so much of it and wouldn't a few yards be enough for anyone, and they'll ask you if you've thought of psychiatric care for me. I can't let you go through all that. It's not right," she said in one breath.

"Do they have psychiatric care for people like you?" I asked. My tongue was deep in my cheek. I didn't want her to take me seriously. After all, I married her for better or fabric didn't I?

"Maybe if we label all the storage bins with different names. Instead of 'Pinwheel Squares' we can label the boxes 'Potatoes.' Instead of 'Log Cabin Squares' we can label the boxes 'Tuna.' Instead of 'Sun Bonnet Sue Squares' we can label the boxes 'Rutabaga.' They all understand hoarding food."

"We don't eat rutabaga," I said.

"Well, then, you think of something better," she said.

I thought a while. "I'll go get some locks," I said. "We can put some of the boxes of quilting pins and binding clips behind the recycle bins. And maybe I could put up some wooden panels to hide yards and yards of white-on-white muslin you're hoarding. You are hiding all of this just temporarily, of course."

"Of course temporarily, Silly. I do have to use it when our company's gone."

"It?" I asked. "Isn't there a game where one person is IT and has to find the person who's hidden?" Or in this case, the stash that's hidden.

"Quilting isn't a game," DW said. We were in the guest room then.

"It's not Hide and Seek?"

She began making some labels. "How about if you hide for a while?" she said.

I hid. I hid behind a box she was labeling 'Okra." I think several rolls of cotton batting were hiding with me.

Copyright A.B. Silver 1998

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