"Stomp, stomp, stomp," I heard, and then I felt the house shake. Without doubt, something was going on in her sewing room. I balanced myself as the house lurched again and headed toward her sewing room. I approached cautiously. From the doorway I saw her in front of her sewing table, her left foot poised above the floor, and then I watched her tiny foot come down onto several sheets of paper. "Stomp." Though our house has a concrete slab floor covered with padding and carpet, I could hear the explosion of fury as her foot hit the now crumpled and tangled papers.
"The house is shaking," I said. I looked around the room. All her quilting supplies were out. Several small piles of cut squares were arranged by color and design on her table.
"Another one," she said to me as if she were absolutely positive I knew what was happening in her sewing room. I was never even slightly aware of the mysterious happenings that constantly occurred in her room. Once in a while I got lucky and understood what she said the first time, but when she was talking about quilting, and no doubt she now was, it took me a while to get my head clear.
"Another what?" I asked. Her foot was raised again about to stomp unless I quieted her down.
"Another pattern with directions that can lead a normal person into insanity.
"A pattern is causing these quiltquakes?" I asked. I watched her foot carefully, steadying myself so I would not lose my balance in case the foot came down again.
"The worst directions yet," she said. "They are incorrect, misleading, and incomplete."
"That bad?" I asked.
"Worse," she said. But then she lowered her foot slowly to settle onto the papers below her. I bent to look at the papers.
"The patterns?" I guessed.
"You don't want to know," she said. "One victim is enough."
"I want to know," I said. Later I would probably have to explain to the neighbors why new cracks appeared in their driveways.
"Look at this," she said. She bent down to the floor and picked up four sheets of paper. She uncrumpled the crumpled sheets and tried to flatten them out.
"They look mangled," I said.
"The directions are mangled," she said. "I wanted to make that nice wall hanging from this pattern, a pattern I paid eight dollars for at the quilt show in Santa Clara." She turned and reached to her table for a small piece of paper. "This is what the wall hanging is supposed to look like," she said.
"It's a gorgeous design," I said.
"Hah, now look at this." She showed me the directions. "And this is a correction sheet," she said. "There are three pages of instructions and one page of illustrations. Then there's another sheet to correct the errors in the first three pages."
"Why didn't they just reprint the instructions?" I asked. "How much would it cost to reprint three sheets of paper?"
"Hah, again. They're not even printed. They're photocopies of some original somewhere."
"Did you make the corrections?" I asked.
"I made the corrections, but there are not enough corrections for all the errors." She was getting angry again. I saw her foot twitching. "Look at this." She showed me the first page of the instructions. She had written in the corrections in red ink.
"I can certainly see the corrections," I said.
"You can't see the ones that aren't there," she said.
"No, I can't.," I said. She was leading me somewhere.
"Now look at this page showing all the blocks." I looked. "See how there's a small diagram of each square," she said. I looked and nodded. "Notice how each is lettered A, B, C and so on?"
I looked. I saw. "A through Q," I said.
"Now read the directions for assembly on this page."
I read aloud, "You...sewing...Blocks A-R."
"There is no Block R," I said.
"Congratulations, Favorite Spouse of Mine," she said.
"Now read the rest of the directions," she said. I read them. I couldn't understand them corrected or uncorrected.
"So that's why you're stomping?" I asked.
"No, I'm stomping because I cut out all the fabric and when I got to the part about putting them together, the directions don't match the pieces of fabric, and, oh, don't get me started again."
"You put some of the blocks together?"
"I put some of them together, and then when I went to add some of the strips I had cut, the strips were too long to fit where they were supposed to go."
"How long were the strips?"
"As long as the directions said," she said.
"But you can cut them shorter, can't you?"
"I can cut them shorter, but the directions said to cut them longer, so they're longer."
"Is there a correction sheet for the corrections?" I asked.
"I'm correcting the directions myself," she said, and she took the sheets together in her hand and smiled at me and dropped the sheets to the floor and began stomping on them once again.
"Do you want some help?" I asked.
"Can you stomp really hard?" she asked.
"Just watch," I said. I began stomping.
"Stomp. stomp, stomp."
Copyright 1999 by A.B. Silver
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