The Best Quilt in the Universe





"This is going to be the best quilt in the world," she said. She spoke in a bright and cheery voice, much too cheery for my sleepy soul, but I forced myself awake and turned to her voice.

"You're just being modest," I said.

"You're right. It will be the best quilt in the universe." She opened the curtains and sunlight poured into the room. I blinked.

"So you finally decided on the new quilt?" I guessed.

"Yes, I have, now that you ask," she said.

"Do I have to get out of bed for some reason now?" I asked. I had planned to sleep at least eight more minutes.

"I need to go to the quilt shop for a few things," she said.

"Now? The quilt shop doesn't open for four more hours."

"Do you want to help me make the best quilt in the universe or just waste away your life in bed?"

"I want to help," I said. Of course.

"Good. I'll be in the sewing room making a list."

"I'll clean up the living room and put away all the books and toys the grandkids kicked all over last night," I said.

"Make some tea and get out the yogurt, and today's trash day."

"And how long will you be?" I asked. I asked this type of question just out of habit. I knew what her answer would be.

"As soon as I finish the list of what I'll need."


The list took her an hour. I did what had to be done about restoring the house to the same order it was before our two grandsons made their weekly visit to show us how bright and rambunctious and messy two preschool boys could be. Getting the macaroni out of the rug took a few extra minutes, but I got it done. Normally, my Darling Wife would have helped, but when she began her day telling me it was "New-Quilt-Project-Day," I knew enough to "volunteer" to help out.

"It's a short list," she said.

"You're just saying that," I said.

"You're right. It's a long list. Just a few things I need. Well, maybe a few more than that. It won't take long." She smiled that sneaky little smile that said silently what she didn't have to say out loud: "I'm might need a few extras after we get there and I see what they have."

Bravely, I looked at the list. "This is all for this quilt? Not the next quilt? Not for all the "just-in-case" quilts you just might make for the next hundred years in the future?"

"One quilt at a time," she said.

"Do you think anyone on a jury of quilters would believe that?"

"I'm not on trial here," she said.

"Well, if the quilt fits," I said.

"Shoe," she said.

"Not in your case. You have your head full of quilts, hundreds of them stuffed in there."

"Maybe I should make a longer list," she said.


We were at the quilt shop when it opened, and she was inside before the owner had even turned the "Closed" sign to "Open." I sighed and followed.

To my surprise, she was finished shopping in eighteen minutes. Either she was going for a new record to brag about or she was in a great hurry to get back home to begin her new quilt. "All done," she said as she piled her loot onto the counter by the cash register.

"Are you sure?" I asked.

"Are you sure?" The owner of the shop asked as she began sorting out the supplies.

She almost turned to look back around the shop, but she didn't. I saw the slight twitch in her neck, but she stood firm. "I have to get back to my quilt," she said.

"It's going to be a great quilt," I said.

"She should enter the monthly contest," the owner said.

"I don't do contests," my non-competitive wife said.

"We have some winners on display," the owner said. She lifted her hand from the cash register and waved it in the direction of the side walls of the shop.

'They're nice," I said, hoping she would drop her hand and pick up the last two items my wife had picked out and put them into the bulging bag holding the other purchases.

But it was too late. My Darling Wife turned and looked at the display on the walls that she had not looked at before in her hurry to get her shopping done. Now she looked, and I knew there was trouble brewing.

"Oh, ah, wow, nice, terrific quilts," she said. Then her voice changed. "Oh, no!" she said.

I understood the exclamations, the sounds of respect and awe at the quilts. The quilts were nice. Actually, several were beautiful. I did not understand the "Oh, no."

"What is it?" I asked, wanting desperately to grab the package and her hand and drag her out of there and home, out of the way of any more distractions and any more expense.

"It's my quilt!!" she exclaimed with two exclamation marks in her voice.

"What??" I asked with two question marks in my voice.

"What?" The owner asked.

Darling Wife, Master Quilter of the Universe, stood silent, but she pointed at a quilt on the wall. I looked. The owner looked. It was a magnificent quilt of an ocean scene with dolphins and whales swimming in a blue ocean with pelicans flying overhead in front of a orange sunset. "It's my quilt," her desperate voice whispered. "The one I was going to do."

"You were planning to make that quilt?" I asked. My shock matched hers.

"It's the quilt I was going to do," she repeated slowly. "And it's better than anything I can do. It has a blue ribbon."

"It took first prize," said the owner.

"Mine was going to be the best quilt ever," my disheartened wife said.

"You can do another quilt. Whatever you do will be the best quilt in the world," I said.

"No, no it won't."

"Yes, yes it will," I said.

"We have other patterns," the owner suggested.

"Yes, of course," I said.

"No, no," my Darling Wife said. "Let's go home now."


At home, sadness and despair in every step, she went up to her sewing room with her package. She stayed up there a long time, but then she came back down. She looked at me. I looked for the faintest hint that she was over her grief. Her sewing room was usually the best therapy. I looked at her closely. I saw her lips tilted slightly toward a smile.

"That's a smile," I said, hoping.

"I have a new project," she said.

"You do?"

"It's one I wanted to do for a long time."

"Are you sure?"

"I'm sure." I still wasn't sure about her smile.

"It will be a great quilt," I said, not knowing whether that would cheer her up or bring back the memory of the prize-winning quilt in the quilt shop.

"It'll be the greatest quilt in the universe," she said.

"At least," I said.

"Here's my new list," she said, and she lifted her hand quickly to show me her new list. I looked at the sheet of paper in her hand. It was a long list.


"Of course now. I have a quilt to make."

Lunch was late that day.



Copyright 2004 by A.B. Silver


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