All the way home on the plane she kept talking about our trip. Not once did she mention quilting. That she had been away from home for five days should have made her into a nervous wreck. But the three long days we had driven through the countryside of Lancaster PA, visiting fifteen quilt and fabric shops, that had satisfied every craving of any kind her body might have otherwise had. The accumulation of fabric she bought, which later burst our luggage, had made her "forget" home for awhile. She had not shivered with anxiety, had not had nightmares, had not spoken of any deep need to run home in panic to see if her sewing room and projects were still standing and her stash was still in place.
But when we walked through the front door, everything changed. Though the house was safe, the rooms unchanged, her sewing machine and her projects waiting patiently for her return, my Darling Wife became alarmed.
"Something's wrong," she said.
"Nothing's wrong," I said. "It's just being home that's finally caught up to you."
"No, something's been going on here." She began running through the house, opening and closing doors, drawers, and boxes.
"How about if we have something to eat and then go to sleep," I said as she ran past me. "Everything else can wait until morning." It was eight o'clock in the evening, but we were still on Pennsylvania time, which made it really eleven o'clock and jet-lagged our minds to a dither. She didn't answer but beckoned to me to follow her back to her sewing room. I went.
"I have to make sure everything's all right," she said as I stood by her side. "Something seems wrong." She stood at the machine she had just uncovered. It looked fine to me.
"Everything's fine," I said. After being on the plane and in airports for eleven hours, the house looked wonderful. Home was where my heart was.
"You unpack while I look around some more," she suggested.
"I'm not unpacking a thing until tomorrow," I insisted. "I'll go make some coffee." (Decaf--nothing was going to keep me awake any later.) I left her there.
I made coffee and thawed out some bread from the freezer. I found some jam and prepared a snack. I yawned.
"They've been out," she said as she came into the kitchen, excitement in her voice, a know-it-all gleam in her eyes.
"Who's been out?" I asked?
"The quilt projects," she said.
"Have some coffee," I said, inviting her to the table. I wasn't about to ask her to explain herself. But she did anyway.
"I just knew it," she said. I didn't say a word. I poured her coffee.
"Blueberry or strawberry?" I asked as I put the jam jars in front of her.
"That new quilt I was making...," she began as she paused to sip her coffee.
"Which quilt was that?" I asked. Lately she seemed to be making a quilt every hour for everyone she knew.
"The paper-piecing one with flowers," she answered.
"What about it?" I yawned again, probably my twenty-third yawn in the past fifteen minutes.
"It's been prowling around," she said. Though another husband might have doubted a statement like that, I knew better. But I had to ask.
"How do you know it's been prowling around?"
"The same way as the others," she said.
"All my unfinished projects have been prowling around while we were gone," she said. I handed her a slice of toast and she put blueberry jam on it and bit into it forcefully. She chewed quickly and swallowed.
"Prowling around like ghosts?" I asked. I, too, took a bite of toast.
"Not like ghosts," she said. "There are no ghosts. The quilt projects were prowling on their own."
"Are they still prowling now?" I asked.
"No, of course not. But while we were gone they were out looking for me and I was three thousand miles away and they couldn't find me."
"So, how do you know they were out?" I crunched another piece of toast.
"Because they're not all folded up as neatly as the way I left them. And they're not all in the same places I left them."
"You're sure of that?"
"I had the flower paper-pieced project in the bottom drawer and I found it in the top drawer with the fabric for the binding. They were separate. Now they're together."
"So?" I asked.
"The binding was in the box under the ironing board before."
"Why did it move?" I asked. I really wanted to believe her.
"They wanted to be finished," she said.
"They got together while we were gone?"
"Of course. The quilt was lonely for the binding, but I was off in Pennsylvania having a good time. The poor things. So they got together." Maybe she was just really tired. I wondered if jet lag caused delusions or illusions.
"So all the quilt projects were unhappy and roamed around the house looking for completion?" Maybe she was already asleep in another dimension.
"Oh, you wouldn't understand," she said.
Oh, yes, I would. I did. We've been married long enough for me to believe everything she said about quilting "Well, then you'd better get some sleep so you can finish all the projects. I'd hate for them to wander around any more than they have to." I'm a compassionate man. "Maybe they know you're home now and they'll have a secure future," I said to her.
"Do you think they know I'm back?" she asked.
"Oh, yes, I'm sure they know. Do you think we can try to go to sleep now?"
"Now? No, not now. I have to get them all ready. I won't be able to do anything until I get them all finished."
"So I have to unpack everything myself?"
"Do you mind?"
"To stop the projects from wandering and roaming and being lonely? No, not at all." And, so, she left the dirty dishes and unpacking to me and went running happily back to the sewing room. I washed the dishes but left the unpacking until the next day.
It's been three days now and each day she's denied ever saying anything about her projects or ghosts or lonely binding or unfinished quilts. "It never happened that way," she says each day. Instead she talks about jet lag, how little sleep we both had these past days, how I must have been the one hallucinating the whole time, and how all her projects were exactly as she had left them before we went on our trip.
And she may be right. I'll take her word for it. Now, if I can just figure out how my computer got to the other side of my desk....
Click here to see Together Quilt
Copyright 1999 by A.B. Silver
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