"Help," she screamed, and then I heard only a muffled, "Wurrump" in the distance. Though I had heard similar sounds before, too often, I hurriedly left the computer and ran to her sewing room.

I stopped at the door and looked into the room where she had been cutting out strips of colored fabric to use in a quilt she was making. The top of her sewing machine cabinet was covered by a panoply of colored scraps.

"Now what?" I asked, my tolerance of her quilting emergencies stretched thin. I had become a quilting accomplice too often in the past year and a half. It wasn't enough she bought out all the quilting books at and every quilt shop we visited. It wasn't enough she subscribed to every quilt magazine in existence. No, that wasn't enough, so yesterday she had put me to work on the computer downloading quilt designs, sorting quilt designs, adding and deleting quilting designs, printing quilting designs and patterns. My behind was molded to the chair as my eyes became bloodshot from staring at the computer screen. I complained, too. But, earlier, when I had told my Darling Wife to look into my bloodshot eyes to see how I would probably need a personal ophthalmologist to keep me from going blind, she told me that the red threads across my eyeballs gave her an idea for an terrific design for a new wall hanging.

"I'm crushed," she said now, her voice distant and strange.

"You don't look crushed," I said. True, she was not at the sewing machine, not at the ironing board, not rummaging through her thousand drawers of thread and fabric and notions. She lay stretched out on the floor. Other than that, she looked fine.

"There was a landslide," she said. Her voice did sound as if her mouth were full of mud.

"A landslide?" I asked. True, Hurricane Floyd had brought hard rain to the East Coast, but the weather here in Central California had been hot and dry. Our house was nowhere near a hurricane or any other source of rain or mud.

"My whole mind is covered," she said.

"That's nothing new," I said. I was not too tolerant of her complaints the past week. She drove herself to her own destruction. After forcing her to spend the weekend helping me catch up on six months' worth of neglected chores, getting back to quilting should have been a relief for her. Instead, she had become obsessed again, her need to feed thread into her sewing machine compulsive. And, with what I thought had been a simple request to help her find some new quilt designs on the Internet, she had dragged me into her latest fantasy of covering the world in quilts.

"My decider has been smothered by the landslide," she said.

"Hmmmm," I said, the good psychologist, waiting for her to go on. I was not going to attempt to translate what she might have been telling me. If she said her "decider" had been smothered, then that's what had happened.

"I had them all so clearly in my mind," she said. Her words were crisper now, as if she had shoveled out some of the mud.

"Hmmmm." I stroked my bearded chin and waited again for her to continue.

"But you wouldn't stop," she charged. "No, you had to keep it up."

"I did something that caused you to have mud in your mouth?" I asked. "You can't blame me for your landslide." Now, I didn't have any idea what she was talking about, but I had to let her think I did.

"All those designs and patterns. So many designs and patterns. What were you thinking?"

"So this is about designs and patterns?"

"Of course it is. You know that."

"What about the mudslide?"

"Mudslide? What you talking about. I didn't say anything about a mudslide."

"I don't know what I'm talking about," I confessed. She stared up at me from the floor. She made no move to get up.

"Because of you I can't decide what kind of quilt to make next. You gave me too many choices. You're not letting me make a new quilt."

"I'm not letting you make a quilt because you have too many choices?" Eventually, I hoped, I would get an explanation that I would understand.

"I had them all under control in my head. They were piled in there neatly. But then you didn't' stop, did you? No, you kept downloading, downloading, downloading."

"I did," I confessed. I would confess to anything. The fact that she had kept asking for more designs wouldn't mitigate my guilt.

"And you kept calling me in to see more and more new designs, too many designs, too many quilts and patterns on the quilting sites on the Internet," she said.

"I did that too," I admitted.

"And then I had too many in my head. They began pushing my eyes out and popping my ears and pushing at my scalp. They were stuffing up my nose and sinuses." She paused and gave me her accusing look. "Then there was the landslide."

"Ahh," I said. I finally understood. "You mean a designslide," I said.

"My brain's been crushed by designs," she agreed. "They've taken over my body."

"And that's why you're lying on the floor."

"I'm letting some of the designs drain out," she said.

"And then you'll be all right?"

"If you don 't download any more for a while," she pleaded.

"All right," I said. It was an easy promise to make. I don't know if it will be an easy promise to keep. When she had cried out, I had been downloading five billion and one quilt block designs for the beginner, intermediate, and expert quilter. I had to download them all, just to be sure she would have some choices. I just wouldn't let her see them for a while. Maybe not for a long, long time.

Copyright 1999 by A.B. Silver

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