At first she was very quiet in her sewing room, deep in thought, no doubt. She was either reading, for which she needed absolute quiet, or she was planning a new quilt, during which she talked to herself inside her head. Once in a while I wondered what conversations she had with herself during those silent moments, but knowing what my own thoughts sometimes were and how broadcasting them might end me up in an asylum, I waited until her thoughts, if they were about quilting, came out with a decision about her next quilt. At other times, when she was ironing or cutting fabric or joining a thousand triangles of fabric into five hundred squares, sewing madly, she would have the television on to occupy that part of her mind that needed greater excitement than offered by what she was doing. So during the long silences, I didn't think about what was going on in her room or her mind. That is, I paid no attention until I heard the silence broken by a squealing sound followed by a squeaking sound then a crash, a thud, and her high pitched yelp.
"Yelp," she said. I hurried into the room. She stood by her sewing machine, her arms outstretched as she shook her hands as if to free them from some invisible flypaper.
"Are you all right?" I asked. I had probably asked her that question once each day for the past eleven months of her quilting life.
"I dropped the scissors," she said. I looked down and saw the pair of scissors at her feet. So what was the yelp for? She had dropped the scissors before. I had dropped the scissors before. All God's children have dropped the scissors.
"Would you like me to pick them up?" I said, my voice showing my curiosity. She continued to wave her hands back and forth as if to sling off some gruesome affliction.
"Hah," she said. Well, that was some kind of a message to me. It almost sounded as if she dared me to pick the scissors up. Maybe there was something going on in that room that I knew nothing about. After all, there had been those strange noises just before she cried out.
I reached over for her scissors, hooked one of the handles in my finger and triumphantly lifted the scissors to give to her. My triumph was very short lived. I dropped the scissors. "What in heck?" I asked myself.
"Hah," she said again. "Now why don't you hand me ruler behind your foot."
I squatted, this time with my knees bent. I wanted to be careful. I put my fingers around a six inch Omnigrid ruler and closed my fingers against the heavy plastic. My fingers closed onto empty space. The ruler had disappeared from my grip. I saw it on the floor two feet in front of me. I reached for it again, this time not as careful about bending my knees. I might ache in the morning, but for now I was driven toward success. I grabbed at the ruler, but it squirted out from my grasp. And I do mean it squirted. It went five feet this time. "What in the ...?" I asked myself again. My bones creaked and cracked as I straightened up.
"Now that needle," she said. She pointed to a quilting needle on the top of her sewing machine. I reached for it and picked it up easily. But it was still on the table. I tried again. My fingertips slid over it and along the wooden tabletop. "Hah," she said for the third time.
"All right, Sweetheart," I said as nicely as I could, "what's going on here."
"ThreadPRO, Sewers Aid, Teflon, silicone, lubricants, slippery thread, slippery fingers," she rattled off, laughing now."
"Stop babbling," I said, understanding nothing of what she was saying but realizing that the scissors, the ruler, the needle, were all part of her nefarious plot to embarrass me.
"I was trying to use the metallic thread on one part the quilt, and it kept fraying and breaking, so I tried a metallic needle with a bigger eye, and that was better, but the thread still kept breaking. Then I remembered reading about lubricating the thread to make it go through the tensions and the needle more easily without breaking, so I lubricated the thread and it worked, but I think I used a little too much. Or maybe I shouldn't have tried to use all of them at the same time. The thread's lubricated. The machine's lubricated. The whole room's lubricated. If you tried to hold me right now you couldn't. I am one slippery woman. Hear me slip and slide." Well, when I asked a question, she did know how to give an answer.
"Will it wear off?"
"I don't know."
"And in the meantime?" I knew we would resolve this problem. We could work anything out, couldn't we?
"In the meantime, I don't squeak," she said. And when I reached for her, she didn't.
Copyright 1999 by A.B. Silver
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