It was time for bed. I assumed she was already in bed, so I went around to check that all the doors were locked and the door to the garage was closed. In passing, I closed the hall closet door and, out of habit, locked it. We had put in a new doorknob with a lock as we kept the toys for our grandchildren in there, and the boys were old enough to take out the toys themselves when they knew it was time to have dinner or join the family. We kept the key on a hook out of sight.
I turned away from the door to turn off the porch light when I heard the sound. Someone had the stereo on too loud in the house next door, I thought, but it was not music. It was a thump. "Thump. Thump." It was coming from the closet.
We had no pets in the house, but once a rabbit had gotten into the garage. Another time a squirrel thought our garage was a cozy place to seek food. Hoping that no animal had gotten past me from the garage into the closet, I unlocked the door. "Mmmfff, what are you doing?" I heard.
I knew of no rabbits or squirrels that talked, so I looked into the closet. This closet was under the stairs that led upstairs, and though there was enough room to hang clothes at the front of the closet, the space inside got smaller and smaller, lower and lower, as it followed the space beneath the staircase. There inside, our grandchildren's toys pushed aside, on her hands and knees, was my Darling Wife. "Mmmmmphh," she said.
"Do you plan to sleep in there?" I asked, hoping she was not.
"I was looking for some UFOs," she said.
"At bedtime, in the back of the closet? In the depths of the closet?"
"I'm looking for an old project I put away. It's unfinished."
"It's an old project. I started it before we moved down here. I think I put it in there when we first moved in."
"That's possible," I said. "What did you find?"
"I found the old inflatable bed and a guitar," she said. By this time she was crawling backwards out of the closet.
"No old project?"
"I found a box," she said, and at that she came out of the closet pulling a box behind her. "Help me stand up again," she said.
I helped her to her feet. She groaned, tried her best to straighten herself up, gave up, and, still a little bent over, pulled the box past the toys and completely out of the closet. "Ouch," I said in empathy.
"It had better be in here. I've looked everywhere else," she said.
"It's always the last place you look," I said. She didn't laugh. She opened the box and scattered pieces of loose fabric onto the floor; several plastic bags full of scraps followed.
"Got you," she said to one bag as she raised it up. "I got you," she repeated.
"It's bedtime," I said.
"Not yet," she said. I have to look first."
"It can't wait until tomorrow?" I asked. It was a foolish question but one I always had to ask. I know that in quilting waiting even four and a half minutes was four and a half minutes too long. My quilter, woman of my dreams, had an appointment with plastic bags full of scraps.
"It should be here," she said. "I think it's here," she said. "It's here," she said, her voice a trumpet of celestial song.
"Good," I said, but she looked at me and I knew I was not showing the proper reaction to the victorious outcome of her search. "Great." I said. "Terrific."
"Go to bed," she said as she turned back to the large plastic bag she held.
"You're not coming?" I asked. I have a storage box of comments in my head, like that one. All were foolish when said to a quilter, especially my quilter.
"It'll only be a minute," she said. She had a small box of responses to my questions in her head. "It'll only be a minute" is one she uses when she is talking about minutes, hours, days, months, years. I say years because at that moment she turned the bag so a label showed.
"I started this in 1999," she said.
Sure enough, the label said "Scrappy Kaleidoscope: 1999."
"Six years ago," I said.
"I forgot about it. I forgot about this whole box of unfinished projects."
"How did you forget quilts you started?" I asked.
Time passed. Quilting Time. I won't even try to explain quilting time except to say it is similar to quilting all the time. She didn't mention the quilt again until this morning when I came into the kitchen for breakfast. She had a smile on her face.
"I finished the quilt last night," she said.
"I'm surprised," I said. No, no, I wasn't.
"It's a scrap quilt and I had lots of scraps to use up."
"All those scraps you've accumulated for the past six years, I bet."
"It's a scrap quilt," she said. "A kaleidoscope scrappy quilt. Scraps and scraps. Fufo," she said. She pronounced it "Foo-foo."
"I promised myself I had to finish the quilt and I finished it. It's a finished unfinished object. FUFO."
"So when you were quilting the scrap quilt six years ago and you stopped and put it away and it wound up in the back of the closet, you were only promising yourself then to begin the quilt, and when you stopped it was a UFO that you promised to finish someday, and now six years later it's finished?"
"Quilters promises are something special," she said. "They're adjustable. My quilt is finished now, and it's time for breakfast. So, where's the new breakfast tea we bought last week?"
"I'll get it for you. I promise." I kept my promise, too. But it did take a little while to find the box of tea in the back of the cupboard behind the box of crackers, which was next to the jar of sugar in that part of the cupboard on the second shelf which was hard to reach without standing on a stool. It was in the last place I looked.
Copyright 2005 by A.B. Silver
Click here to see finished "FUFO Quilt"
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