I heard her drive up, and I expected her to come swooping into the house with whatever new purchases she had made on her, "I just have to get a thing or two," trip to Wal-Mart.
When she didn't come directly into the house, my first thought was that she had decided to bring in the trash can which had been emptied just moments before she drove up.
When she didn't come in after ten minutes, I went out to see where she was. Anything could have distracted her, but I worried slightly because when she had left she was in the middle of using her new Carol Doak CD to print out a pattern for a paper-pieced star, and if anything could bring her back into the house in a hurry, it was her quilting. "Mmmfrruuhmhumfff," I heard as I left the house and turned the corner of the garage to see her car, but I didn't see her. But then I looked into the car, and my body tensed and my mind did a flip on the trampoline of danger that set itself up in my head. Inside the car was a sky of white clouds. But I didn't see my Darling Wife.
"Riffmufffllle," I heard from inside the car. My first thought was that somehow the safety air-pillows had deployed throughout the car when she had stopped the car and that she was trapped inside by them.
"I'm here," I said heroically as I turned myself into a bolt of lightning and headed to open the car doors to rescue her.
I reached for the car door handle on the driver's side, pulled the latch, and opened the door. I was blown back by an explosion of white. I looked up from the ground to see giant marshmallows of white coming out of the car, spreading toward me, spreading over me, spreading over the driveway.
"Honey, I'm home," she said then as I saw her break through the cloud of white as she came out the door.
"What in the...." I began, but she interrupted me with a tug on my hand.
"Pillow forms," she said.
"What?" I asked. White stars were exploding inside my head.
"Pillow forms, to go inside the quilted pillow covers I'm making."
"You didn't crash?" I asked.
"No, I was just stuck inside with the pillow forms, but I'm free now, and I'm glad you're here. You can help me carry them inside."
"You brought home the car full of pillows?" I asked. I really had to be sure.
"Just a few," she said as she began gathering up as many as she could carry, maybe two.
"You want me to bring in the rest."
"I've been stuck out here forever and I have to go make the outsides. These are just the insides."
"How many pillows do you plan to make?" I asked as I gathered two, three, four, five, ten pillows between my hands, a mountain of soft poly-fil pressed against my body. I could be run over by a bus and I wouldn't feel a thing.
"Fifty. All the states."
"You're going to make fifty pillows?" I repeated, but I didn't see how she could have heard me as I was talking through a pillow form I carried between my teeth.
"All the Carol Doak paper-pieced stars," she said.
"Oh," I mumbled between my clamped teeth. She was going to make a lot of paper-pieced stars and use each one to make a pillow cover (pillow case to me!). Three days before she had never made a pillow cover, but when we were in England, she had seen a display of quilted pillows, and she had promised herself to make one. One.
She had had a Sunbonnet Sue block left over from her last quilt, and, in England, she had promised herself to try to make one pillow when we were back home. One.
And she had done it. After several false starts, some agony and some ecstasy, she had completed her first pillow cover. One.
She had earlier bought a fourteen inch square pillow. She called it a pillow form. The package label said pillow form, but to me it was just a baby pillow, the kind the airlines give to passengers whom they somehow assume have tiny little heads. But the pillow form fit inside the pillow cover, and Sunbonnet Sue now had a place to be thrown in the living room. (I assume that's why it's called a throw pillow.)
She opened the door for me and I dragged myself and too many pillow forms into the house. "There's no room in the house for these," I said. If there was anything I knew for sure after living with this woman quilter, it was that there was no room in the house for the pillow forms.
"There's room," she said. And the way she said it left no room for discussion. Oh, I might have wanted to discuss it. I might have told her about the ants that had marched up to the house two days before looking for a home and had turned around because there was no room at this inn. A needle would be better off in haystack. It wouldn't find a place to be stepped on in this quilter's house. But when my Darling Wife said there was room for a box-car load of pillow forms, I wouldn't bet against her. I only wondered how much of the bathtub or shower stall would be used, and whether I could still bathe once in a great while. There was no other space.
"Put them in the guest bathroom for now," she said. See.
I put them in the guest bathroom, filling the tub and sink and stacking them around the toilet and on the floor. "No guests for awhile, huh?" I asked her.
"They can come for a short time," she said.
"That means no tea or coffee," I said. I could give our guests dry crackers and send them home.
"There are still some in the trunk," she said.
"Some what?" I asked.
"Pillow forms," she said. She knew that I knew what she meant, but she also knew that I wasn't surprised.
"So, when are you going to start?" I asked.
"I started already," she said, and she led me into the sewing room and showed me the pile of paper-piecing patterns she had printed out.
"That's what you plan to do now, start a pillow factory?"
"I have all those pillow forms to use up," she said, and then she waved me away. I may see her again some day.
Copyright 2000 by A.B. Silver
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