"Come in here," she commanded. Obediently, I put down the book I was reading and rushed down the hall to her sewing room.
"What?" I asked, wondering if some catastrophe had visited the room or whether she had a new quilt finished for me to look at. The way she had yelled it could have been either one.
She didn't answer, but she pointed at the new design wall I had put up two days before. Previously, the design wall had been an old flannel white sheet that rippled and billowed from the slightest breeze, let alone the overhead fan that she turned on when the room got too hot, probably from overheating the sewing machine as she quilted endlessly. Now it was a smooth wall of flannel, the backing of vinyl tablecloth material cut to fit and stapled tight to the wall. On that smooth surface hung her newly assembled wall hanging top. A garden scene of rabbits and flowers and bees and leaves hung on the wall in happy profusion.
"Very nice," I said, and I turned to leave, to get back to my book.
"Not so fast. Look again." Knowing her tone of voice had changed to one which said, "Look or suffer a terrible fate," I looked again.
"It's still very nice," I said.
"It's crooked," she said. "It's bent. It's flawed."
"You want me to look at it and tell you it's not perfect?" Did she want me to end our marriage right then?
"I thought it looked good, but then you looked at it and said it was tilted."
"I didn't say a word," I protested. Would I jump into traffic from an overpass during rush hour? I knew better.
"You looked it," she said. You looked at it, and every part of your body said it was helter-skelter."
"It's not helter-skelter," I said.
"Look at it again," she said. "Honestly."
I looked at it again. "I'm looking honestly," I said. Two of the blocks were very slightly off. The top of one block was very, very slightly, tilted up. "It's a tiny, tiny bit skewed up." I said.
"What did you say?" she asked, alarmed in some quilter's way.
"I said It was a tad oblique."
"All right," she said.
"But it's very nice," I said.
"Oblique means slanted. That means it's crooked," she said.
"Can I go now?" I asked softly. I wanted to go. I didn't want to face her trip to the depths of quilter's depression.
"I can fix it," she said.
I recovered my breath and was about to ask her again if I could leave, but she was no longer aware that I was in the room. She was pulling down the wall hanging. I disappeared.
Several hours later, when I was in the kitchen preparing my lunch, not knowing when I would ever see her again," I heard her voice shake the house again. "Come in here," she said.
I put down the bread, I put away the sliced turkey, I put away the mustard, and I went. I went very cautiously to the back of the house and her sewing room.
"What?" I asked.
She didn't answer. She pointed to the design wall where her wall hanging hung.
"Very nice," I said. I was cautious and careful and cowardly.
"Look at it," she said. "It's fixed."
"Fixed?" I looked with my eyes open this time. What was hanging before me was the same wall hanging, but I didn't see any mistakes, any crookedness, any helter-skelter any oblique or skewed anything. I was astonished. Everything looked perfect. I couldn't believe it was the same wall hanging. Maybe she had made a new one.
"It's the same one," she said, absolutely knowing what I was thinking at every moment.
"It looks....perfect," I said. I hoped that was the right thing to say.
"Ask me why it looks good now," she said.
"Why does it look good now," I asked.
"Quiltouflage," she said.
"What kind of flage?" I asked, pronouncing it flahge. Will I ever learn all those quilting terms?
"I covered up all the mistakes so no one can see them. Like camouflage. You don't see any mistakes, do you?" She meant, "You had better not see one stitch out of place."
"I don't see any mistakes," I said. I did notice some additions.
"I added yo-yos and buttons and more flowers and more leaves and more applique and fancy stitches and a few other things. Then I added some quilting all over the cricks and cracks."
"I don't remember any cricks and cracks," I said.
"They're gone. I stippled over everything to cover all the mistakes," she said happily.
"So you're covering the slight variations that were previously obvious in the wall hanging by making them appear to be part of their natural surroundings?" I asked. "In other words, concealment by disguise?"
"Quiltouflage," I said.
"Absolutely. With quiltouflage, even you, Mr. Smarty-pants, can't tell."
"I can tell when it's time to go have lunch," I said.
"Make me a turkey sandwich," she said. "All this quilting makes me hungry."
I began thinking about disguising the turkey with mustard and lettuce and tomatoes and pickle. What would that be called?
Copyright 1999 by A.B. Silver
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