In Plain Sight
We went off to the quilt shop right after dinner, and we joined the crowd of quilters. As was often the case, I was the only man in the shop, but they were used to me there, and so no one made note of our entrance. It was only after I stood by her side at the notions cabinet, that we heard and registered the conversation.
"I had to sneak out this time," the woman in black said. She lowered her voice then and whispered to the others in the group. "He thinks I'm at the market, but I really need some more flannel for the backs of the baby quilts I'm making."
"And he won't realize where you've been when he sees the pile of fabric you bring home?" a woman in green asked. She didn't whisper.
"I'll hide it before he gets home from his trip to the soccer game at the high school," she said.
"Where will you hide it?" a woman in blue asked. She had on a blue dress and a blue scarf still wrapped around her neck from the cold that had descended on our city that day. She loosened her scarf.
"I hide it in the cupboard behind the cereal boxes. He never looks there. He never eats cereal, just his rolls and coffee."
"My husband would find it right away, said a woman in brown. She had half a dozen patterns clutched in her two hands. "It's hard to hide anything anymore. But I have a place behind the washing machine. He never does the laundry and so he never looks there."
'I've given up trying to hide anything," said a woman in a long gray coat. "I just show him the fabric, we have a fight, and then I go off to do my quilting. Sometimes after that I don't see him for awhile."
"I used to hide it in the shed with my gardening tools, but he decided to plant a dwarf orange tree one day and he went into the shed and he found it. He didn't say a word, but he goes to the shed a lot lately and he doesn't do any more gardening. I just put any new fabric in back of the kids' toy closet."
"Well, what do you think?" I asked my Darling Quilting Wife as we left the shop. She had two bags of full of fabric. "Where would you hide the fabric if I were a bit fussy and quarrelsome and thought you shouldn't buy any more stash because you have more than there is in the shop we just left?"
"I'd hide it in plain sight, if I had to hide it, which I don't."
"In plain sight?"
"You'd never see it because you'd look everywhere else. In the detective movies they always hide things in plain sight."
"Maybe," I said, but I was more than sure if she bought more fabric I'd find it.
The next morning I came out of the shower, dressed, and went into the kitchen. "Coffee ready?" I asked.
"Of course," she said, and it was. I went to the cupboard and took down a cup and a saucer. They were higher than usual and harder to reach. I puzzled for a moment and then turned to her with a large question mark drawn on my face.
"New shelf liner," she answered before I could ask.
"Oh," I said. "Nice design on it."
"You want some juice?" she asked.
"I'll get it," I said, and I opened the refrigerator. The juice was not on the door shelf where it usually lived. "Juice?" I asked.
"It's right in front of you," she said. "Under the juice insulator."
"I read about it in the food section in the paper yesterday. It keeps the juice wetter and prevents the vitamins from drying out."
"Oh," I said. "Makes sense." Wetter?
"The cheese is under the dairy blanket," she said then.
"The flowered blanket on the bottom shelf," she said, and she was right. On the bottom shelf a small sheet illustrated with a bouquet of cloth flowers covered two packages of cheese."
"That really works?" I asked. Maybe it was in the "Heloise" column.
"I think it will," she answered. "What kind of bread do you want?" she asked.
"Fifteen grain," I said.
"It's in the soft bread box on the counter," she said. "It doesn't need to be in the freezer."
"What soft bread box?" I asked, but I saw the layered charcoal-colored textured soft bread box on the counter by the can-opener. I uncovered the bread, unwrapped the package, and took out the bread to put in the toaster.
"Take the toaster cover off before you heat the bread," she said as I looked for the toaster. Then I saw the toaster wrapped in plaid.
"It's like a new kitchen in here," I said approvingly. The room did seem more attractive in some way, color and design accenting everything.
"Just a few touches," she said, and she smiled. The bread popped out of the toaster.
I made a sandwich and took it with my juice and coffee to the table. "New placemats?" I asked as I set down my breakfast.
"Layered placemats," she said. "They help bring the food closer to your mouth so you don't have as much chance of spilling anything."
"They seem high for placemats." I lifted several layers.
"See, they work already," she said.
"All right," I said. I wasn't sure about the placemats, but I sat down. My feet didn't reach the floor. I was sitting too high.
"Chair padding," my grinning wife said.
"On top of the pillows?" I asked.
"They can be washed. Remember when you got blueberry jam on the pillows and the stain never came out? This way if you spill anything we can just change the pillow pads."
"You did all this work yesterday?" I asked. She usually didn't leave her sewing room. She didn't believe that too much time spent in the kitchen was beneficial to her quilting.
"I had a little extra time after dinner," she said.
"After we got back from the fabric shop?" I asked. I never saw her right away after we came back from a trip to the quilt shop. Not unless....not unless.... "This is the new fabric," I said, spreading my arms, waving them around the room from the toaster to the refrigerator to the table to the counter and back around again.
"Hidden in plain sight. No one ever looks for fabric in plain sight."
"And you want me to tell them them that, tell all those women who have husbands they have to hide their fabric purchases from to hide their fabric in plain sight?" I asked the question strongly.
"You said you would find the fabric if I hid it."
"Maybe. I said, 'Maybe.'"
"You might sit on the new Hawaiian seat warmer in the bathroom," she said then. "And you should see the new desk cover in the den, and maybe all the door knobs in the house are wearing Moda gloves to make them easier to open. Oh, and make sure you take the Marcus Brothers bathtub wrapper off before you take a bath."
"I see," I said. "Oh, yes, I see," I said.
After breakfast she began her new quilt, and all the fabric I saw disappeared. I'm at the computer now, and the new Kaffe Fassett keyboard protector is a joy to behold.
(No husband who shares in his wife's quilting and knows the value of her having lots and lots of fabric was harmed in the writing of this story.)
Copyright 2006 by A.B. Silver
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