Night Shift




I awoke with a grumble, listened a moment, looked at the clock, and listened again. It was 2:15 a.m., and I heard her fumbling around in the sewing room. I moved to the edge of the bed, leaned out to see into the sewing room, and saw the small light was on over her sewing machine. Now what?

It wasn't that she was an insomniac. No, she just woke up a lot during the night. Usually she went back to sleep. But she was not sleeping now. If I were correct, and I had the experience to know, she would soon be quilting. She had become a nocturnal quilter, though I always worried that some night she would be quilting in her sleep and sew herself up in about ten yards of fabric.

As I had to be up anyway in three or four hours, I got out of bed and stumbled sleepily into the sewing room. "What are you doing?" I asked.

"Oh, you're up already?" she asked.

"The earthquake woke me," I said. I leaned against the doorjamb.

"There wasn't any earthquake," she said. "Was there?"

"You turned on your sewing machine," I said.

"And that woke you up?"

"I was getting up anyway. So what are you doing?"

"I'm going to finish the foot quilt."

"You're doing that now?"

"Well, I was up, so it seemed the right thing to do."

"You having trouble sleeping again?"

"No, I'm always up this time of night. You know that."

"But you usually go back to sleep."

"Your quilt cried out to be finished."

"That's probably what woke me up," I said. "You know how I can't sleep when there's crying go on."

"It wasn't crying, not like with tears. It kind of shouted, quietly."

The quilt shouted quietly? "Well, it woke me up," I said. I swayed from one side of the doorway to the other.

"Go back to bed," she said.

"I can't. I'm up now."

"Do you have insomnia?" she asked.

"No, I don't have insomnia. I have trouble sleeping when your projects cry out in the night and the switch on your sewing machine screams out for me to wake up."

"I should have closed the door."

"Maybe." I yawned and slid down the jamb to the floor.

"I'm just going to finish this and then go back to sleep," she said.


"Wake up a minute," I heard her say somewhere in the distance.

"Umm, what?" I asked. For some reason I was on the floor.

"I want you to try this," she said. I peeked out under heavy eyelids. She held up a very small quilt.


"I want you to be happy with it," she said. She was coming over to me. She helped me up.

"You mean you want my feet to be happy, " I said, yawning again. The small quilt was to cover a part of the large quilt on our bed. She didn't want me to put my feet up on the bed and ruin the quilt when sometimes I lay there to read during the day or look out the window at the trees and birds. I tried to remember to spread out a towel under my shoes, but sometimes I forgot. So, when she complained, I suggested she make a quilt for my feet. She grumbled and said I was foolish, that there was no such thing as a foot quilt, that she didn't have time or fabric to waste on my feet when I could just take my shoes off now and then.

"It takes time to take off my shoes and put them back on," I had said. "It takes more time to take my shoes off than to lie down." In a moment of brilliance, I also told her that she could invent a foot quilt if not having heard of one or seen one before was what was bothering her. Now, apparently, she had done just that.

"Just try this out," she said sweetly.

She pushed me into the bedroom and forced me down on the bed. My legs were stretched out and she lifted my bare feet to settle down on the new foot quilt. "This is all done, then?" I asked.

"I finished it. You've been asleep half an hour."

"I have?" Was it just possible that I had fallen asleep in the doorway of her sewing room?

"It works fine, doesn't it?" She pointed at my feet. I looked at my feet.

Beneath my amazed feet was a patchwork fantasy of fabric she had sewn together into a colored frenzy of a quilt. She hadn't wasted any expensive, high quality, or even good fabric. It seemed as if she had emptied her scrap basket onto her sewing machine and miraculously bound the scraps together into a two-foot-square foot quilt. It was no quilt design anyone had ever seen before, but to me and my feet it was beautiful.

"Of course it works fine," I agreed. My feet were in love with the quilt. "Can I go back to sleep now?" I pleaded.

"If you want to sleep your life away," she said.

"Not my whole life. Just a few hours." I closed my eyes.

"What about a quilt for the hassock in the living room?"

"What about it?" I opened my eyes. I looked at her.

"Didn't you want me to make a quilt for your feet there, too?"


"Now is a good time," she said.

And for her, anytime was a good time to quilt. She went off back to her sewing room, but I stayed where I was and closed my eyes again. I lay there on top of the bed with my feet happily stretched out on the foot quilt. And, I think, I slept just fine.

Click here to see Foot Quilt

Copyright 1999 by A.B. Silver

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