Our house began to sink. There were no floods, no earthquake, just a slight bump late in the afternoon. When I went out the front door and looked back, the house was a couple of inches lower, tilting just slightly toward the right rear side. Well, it didn't seem any big thing. The house had been settling for over thirty years. Though it should have been stabilized long ago, I wasn't too concerned. I checked for cracks around the foundation, around the windows, by the doors. Everything seemed normal. I went back inside.
"The house is lower," I told my Darling Wife as she greeted me in the living room.
"I know," she said. "I'm sorry."
"You know and you're sorry?" I looked at her carefully. Her lips were turned downward in a frown. Her brow was wrinkled. Her eyes seemed dull.
"I didn't mean for anything to happen," she said.
"You made the house sink?" I asked, trying to interpret her words.
"It's just a little bit, isn't it?" she asked hopefully.
"Yes, it's just a little bit," I agreed.
"I won't do it any more," she said.
"You won't do what any more?" She had me puzzled.
"I won't buy any more quilt fabric," she said. She sounded contrite.
"What does fabric have to do with anything?"
"I have too much fabric. The house is too heavy now. I didn't mean it. Really, I didn't," she said with her face turned up to mine, the look of a child caught with a hand in the cookie jar spread across her face.
"You bought more fabric?" Need I ask?
"It was a good price. I had to buy it at that price. I just bought too much."
"You bought too much? How much is too much?" I had seen her come into the house earlier with a package from the UPS driver. It didn't seem unusually large. Were there other packages I didn't see? Hah!
'"A few yards too much," she said.
"How many yards?" I was a stern interrogator.
"Well, I wanted all the Kona Cotton colors," she said.
"How many colors is that?" I asked.
"A hundred fourteen," she said. Then before I could reply, she went on. "I didn't know they had so many solid colors," she confessed slowly.
"You bought a hundred fourteen colors of fabric?" I would have to ask the IMF for a loan.
I added that up in my disbelieving head. "That's fifty-seven yards of fabric. Why?" Now that was a silly question, but I just had to ask it one last time before we went to debtors' prison.
"I need some solid colors for the new quilt I plan to make, and there are so many other quilts I want to make some day," she said. She looked at me, her judge and jury, for a verdict. "I like solid colors and I just didn't think all that fabric would be so heavy," she added.
"And it's all in your sewing room?"
"Just for now. I planned to spread it out evenly.
"In all the rooms, no doubt, so that the house would sink evenly all around?"
"Yes. I just don't have any more room to store it in the sewing room."
"Because the sewing room is already full of fabric?" I guessed. She bowed her head in guilty response. "So where do you want to put it?" I asked.
"Around," she said with a perfectly composed face then. She was more relaxed. "A little here, a little there."
"There's no more room in this house for a little here and a little there," I chastened.
"I was going to get rid of some things."
"And what kind of things were you going to get rid of?" I had a good idea.
"Well, you know those old tools you never use, and those boxes of magazines you said you were going to give to the library, and your old T-shirts."
"I don't have any old T-shirts. They're just getting to where they're comfortable." I protested, but I knew it was without effect. The tools and the magazines and the T-shirts were all doomed.
"And I'm going to clean out the freezer and the cupboards. All those foods you said you were going to try and then never did. They're heavy."
"Are you going to put the fabric in the freezer?"
"No, but I can use the cupboards."
"Of course, you can," I said.
"It's not that much," she said. Then she looked at me with renewed strength in her features, her muscles taut with certainty. "You know I like to have everything in the house before I start a new project. And if I ever do a king-sized quilt, I don't want to have to run out in the middle of the night to get an extra yard of blue."
"It will take you months to make a quilt that large, maybe years," I said logically.
"See. That's why I have to have a complete inventory of stash. I may have to make lots of other quilts in-between. Little ones and big ones. When I get an idea, I can't run out to shop. I need to start the new quilt right away."
"Do you have a complete inventory now?" I asked, thrashing out, grasping for a solid grip on reality. I was sinking along with the house.
"I'm working on it," she said. And I knew she wasn't kidding.
"Will you do me a favor then?" I asked.
"Of course. What?"
"Spread your stash around the house evenly," I said. "I don't think I want to sleep with my head lower than my feet, which it will be considering the way the house is tilted now."
She bobbed her head in agreement. "As soon as I come back from shopping tomorrow. I promise," she said. "There's just one more sale I have to go to. In the meantime," she went on cheerfully, "you can always sleep turned around on the bed so your head is higher."
In the meantime, I thought to myself, I would place some of her new stash under the corner of my bed to raise it so that my head would be in the same place it always was, where it belonged. That should even things out. For a while.
Copyright 1997-98 by A.B. Silver
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