"I'm scared," she said as she stood in the hall at the doorway of her sewing room. She faced into the room, but she stood still.
"What are you scared of?" I asked as I removed the screws of the air conditioning duct cover in the hall. I was about to clean the filter. She was about to finish her new unicorn appliqué quilt.
"Oh, it doesn't miter," she said. She sighed and took a step into her room, but she backed out again and stood still.
"What doesn't matter?" I asked, correcting her nervous pronunciation.
"I didn't say it didn't matter," she said. "As a miter of fact, I'm not that scared." She stepped into the room. I lowered the duct cover and removed the dirty filter. I put it down along the wall and went after her.
"Are you having a problem with the quilt?" I asked.
"I'm doing the border," she said. She was standing at her cutting table with a borderless wall hanging laid out in front of her.
"And?" She was quiet as she stared down at the two unicorns in the center of her quilt. "So?" I added. She touched the quilt. "Well?"
"I'm going to miter the border," she said.
"Oh," I said. "Is that dangerous?" I added after I realized I had not a clue as to the source of her fright.
"It's not dangerous. Why would it be dangerous. It's just scary. I don't want to make a big mistake."
"What kind of mistake could you make. You're a master of borders."
"I might make a mighty miter mistake," she said.
"I'm afraid, too," I said. "I don't understand what you just said."
She turned and gave me that look of hers that told me she was going to be calm and patient as she tried to explain to this dull-witted husband of hers what she was saying. "I usually make the borders butt up against each other. Now, for the first time ever, I want to try to make the pieces mitered where they come together."
"Come together. Isn't that from a Beatles song?"
"That might be the last song you sing," she said. "I'm talking corners here."
"Ah" I said. As I now understood her, it sounded like the right thing for me to say, so I said it again. "Ah."
"It's a little tricky cutting each end of a piece of the border at a forty-five degree angle and joining them just right. If I don't do it exactly right, I could wind up with wavy borders or puckered borders or really, really bad and ugly borders." She sighed.
"I can help," I said.
"You can?" Her tone suggested that she didn't seem in any way convinced that I might be able to help.
"I have a miter box and a miter saw in the workshop you can use."
"I'm not joining two pieces of wood together," she said. "I'm using fabric, and you're not being helpful in my time of need. Besides, you have a wooden head," she said.
"Well, then," I began, my suggestion dismissed, "how about if I get you some help?"
"Miter Mouse," I said.
"Out," she said.
I went out. My Darling Wife had tossed off whatever fear she might have had moments before. I looked back to see steely determination tighten every muscle of her body into a border-making machine. I had no doubt she would overcome the challenge of the mitered borders. So, my anxiety about her falling into depression gone, I went to read the track and field results from the summer Olympics in the morning paper. I was most interested in the winner of the 100 miter race. Or was that meter? Or metre?
I cleaned the filter, reinstalled it, tested it, and then peeked in on her. She was busy sewing. As I had long before learned not to peer over her shoulder when she was quilting, lest I have my hand sewn to my backside and my twisted body sent out into traffic, I waited until she looked up. "How's it going?" I asked.
"I'm not scared any more," she said.
"Then the border came out all right?" I didn't ask if it were perfect. Nothing would ever be perfect to her, except, maybe, a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich in her hand if she were starving in the middle of a forest on a cold winter night without a quilt to warm her.
"The pen is miter than the sword," she said.
"Lovely Rita, Miter Maid," she sang.
"The High and the Miter," she sang.
"It's a good border," she said. Thankfully, she was speaking sanely again.
"Good," I said. It was better for her quilt to be good rather than miteriocre.
"I mitered the second border, too." she said.
"The quilt has two borders?"
"And I mitered the binding."
"You mitered two borders and a binding?" I exclaimed happily for her.
"Why? Didn't you think I could?"
"I know you could. Eventually."
"It was just a miter of time," she said.
"I'm going now," I said.
"You miter as well go," she said. "I have to finish here."
I didn't want to go, but I went. She is stronger than I. And in this case, miter makes right.
Copyright 2000 by A.B. Silver
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