The Library




She was in the living room pacing back and forth in front of our bookshelves. She looked up at the top shelf and down to the bottom shelf. She looked left and she looked right. Then she sighed.

"You want to read a book?" I asked as I entered the room which was not only our living room but a library for the books we had accumulated over the past forty years. They rose floor to ceiling on two sides of the room.

"What?" she asked, startled by my voice. "Oh, I was just thinking," she said. That was my first warning. I had heard her tell me she was just thinking before. Each time I heard that, I called the bank to block all accounts, all credit cards, all money anywhere within her reach. She had said she was just thinking when she decided to become a quilter. That was eleven months and a small fortune before.

"Are you thinking anything that involves more fabric or another hundred quilts or taking over this room again?" Three possibilities I wouldn't put past her.

"Oh, it's nothing," she said, and she turned away from the bookcase and walked past me down the hall to her sewing room.

"Nothing," I whispered behind her. I had heard that word many times before, I thought. Nothing usually meant something, and something usually meant trouble in River City.

It was an hour later when I saw her again. She was in the kitchen and she was holding a pile of books in her hands. She was struggling to hold them as she moved to the kitchen table and dumped them there. I went over to the pile of scattered books and looked at them. Quilting books!

"I don't have any more room for them," she said as if that explained why I might never have room to eat at the table again.

"You have plenty of room," I said.

"Not since I put the new fabric on the shelf where the books were," she said. "I only have room for a few books in there," she added.

"And just whose fault is that?" I asked, knowing where this conversation was going.

"I only have a few quilting books," she said.

"You only had a few books two days after you took up quilting. Now you have a million books," I said, exaggerating only a little. In the last eleven months her one quilting book, a gift that started her onto the yellow brick road to quilting madness, had become dozens of quilting books, several shelves full of quilting magazines, hundreds of leaflets and newsletters and brochures she has been sent or has picked up at quilting shops and quilting shows.

"I need some more space," she said. She said it quietly, and I should have expected it, but the words came down like lightning from that quilting heaven somewhere in space where even John Glenn had dared not go.

"There's some room in the garage," I said.

"That's too far away," she said.

"That's only ten feet from here," I said.

"The kitchen is too far," she said. "I need to have them close at hand."

"How close?" I asked.

"As close as the living room," she said.

"Our living room," I said, emphasizing the word living. "There's no room in there for quilting books," I said.

"Why not?" she asked.

"Because," I said.

"Because why?" she asked.

"Because...." I said, hesitating to say it. "Because the shelves are all full with the other books."

"You can make room," she said. "I need a quilting library," she said. "My quilting books need their own place," she said.

"You want me to take out some of the other books?" Of course.

"You can put them in the garage."

"Which ones?" I asked.

"You can pick them out," she said. "Just make room. These books...." She swept her hand across the scatter of books on the kitchen tables. "These books," she went on, "need a home."

"If these books have a home," I said, "will that be the end of it. Will you and your quilting books be content?"

"For now," she said.

"For now?"

"I might get one more book sometime," she said.

"One more book when you don't have room for these books?"

"One more book that came in the mail today. Tomorrow is another day."

"How big is this quilting library going to be?" I asked. I could have asked why she needed more than one or two quilting books or why she needed more than those which she already had, but that would have been foolish, silly, dumb.

"Quilters need a lot of books," she said. "Quilters need a lot of magazines," she said. "Quilters need...."

"A big library," I said. Sure.

Copyright 1998 by A.B. Silver

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