The Oath




"It's not enough," she said. She was far away, upstairs in her sewing room, but her words were crisp and came down the stairs and hopped up on me, waking me from my nap.

"Huh, what?" I said before the words registered completely. There was no reply from her and I began to doze again.

"Never quite enough," she said. Again, the words filtered through the cat-nap dream I was having.

"All right," I answered automatically, but it wouldn't have mattered if I had thought about what I was saying or even if I needed to reply. She wasn't talking to me. If she were talking to me she would be shaking me and whispering into my sleep-blocked ears.

She was talking to herself or to her sewing machine or to her fabric or to her cutting table or to all of them together. She did that from time to time when she was in "quilting mode" as she was now. Actually, she was always in quilting mode; only now, she was actually physically attacking the pattern for a new quilt she had earlier told me she had finally decided on. I went back to my nap and my slight dream of flying in the sky with a flock of brown pelicans, birds we had been watching on the coastline the afternoon before.

"I need more," she said, and this time I heard her clearly. She was bent over me, shaking me and pleading in my unblocked right ear.

"All right," I said, agreeing again, though this time she heard me, and I wondered what I had agreed to.

"No more one's," she said.

"Agreed," I said. I tried to lift myself up to a sitting position, but she was still holding me down, though she had stopped shaking me.

"Not even two's," she said.

"I thought two's would be all right," I said, guessing wildly what she was talking about, having no idea, and just joining absurdly into her conversation. Oh, yes, it was her conversation. Eventually she would explain it so I knew what I had agreed to and what it would cost me in time, effort, money, or peace of mind.

"A minimum of three. From now on."

"A minimum of three," I repeated. "From now on." Certainly from now on, whatever it was. The future was in her tone of voice, as it usually was. Therefore, I knew she was talking quilting and I was still thinking nap. "How's the quilt going?" I asked, hoping to get her away from whatever subject we were discussing without my knowing what we were discussing.

"I can't quilt without more," she said.

"That bad?" I said, sensitive to her feelings, her needs, whatever they were.

"I searched and I searched, but it was no use. I couldn't begin to think about the quilt if the border wasn't possible."

"You've been thinking about the quilt for days," I said, reminding her.

"That was just thinking. This is thinking-thinking, the real thing."

"I see," I said. I had heard that before, so I knew that she was beyond the thinking stage and thinking about the planning stage.

"You don't see how I couldn't find the fabric I wanted."

"I thought you had the fabric you wanted." She always had the fabric she wanted.

"Just one yard. I told you that," she said.

"You have a yard of the fabric you need to begin the quilt?" I asked to be sure I was clear on what she was telling me.

"I don't need it to begin the quilt. I need it to end the quilt," she said, sighing in a way that showed me she was getting a little impatient with my not immediately understanding the rest of our conversation before it went on and finally finished.

"Why don't you begin the quilt now and end it later," I said.

"You're not paying attention, are you? You just want to go back to your nice little nap and not care about the dilemma I'm facing." She was right about that, I confess.

"Dilemma? It's a dilemma now."

"It will be unless I get some three's, maybe four's."

"I thought you would be satisfied with two's, maybe three's." Why was I talking like her? I wasn't even close to a quilter. Well, she still had a grip on my arm, so I guess I was close to a quilter. I just wasn't close to being a quilter.

"Do you know what you're saying?"

"I'm saying that you can't begin quilting your new quilt because you don't have an ending to it."

"Do you know why?" She was testing me, I was sure.

"Something to do with...with...fabric?" I guessed. That was always a safe guess.

"Of course it does. I've been telling you that."

"And?" I waited for a hint. Any kind of hint.

"I've decided you have to take an oath."

"An oath?" Now what?

"So I can end the quilt."

"I have to take an oath so you can end the quilt?"

"I need three yards for the border."

"And? So?" I was guessing that her answer would be my next guess.

"I only have a yard and I need three yards. All I have are a lot of one yards, some of which you ordered for me in one of your moods to get me a Monday present or a Wednesday present, and you always get one yard of everything, so I always have to think in one yards when I order and because we need to have some money left for food, clothing, and shelter, you always tell me, but now I don't want any more one yards. I don't even want two yards. I want three, and you have to take an oath," she said without taking a breath. And with that she finally let go of my arm and handed me a slip of paper she had been holding in her hand all that time.

"You want me to read this?"

"And sign it."

"Will this improve our marriage and let me take a nap?"

"Of course."

I read the note:

"I hereby declare under oath that whenever I have the urge to purchase a gift of fabric for my Darling Wife, I will never order a piece smaller than 3 yards (4 would be better). I also pledge to order three yards of whatever she wants so she can end her quilt.


I signed it. I'm no fool.


Copyright 2001 by A.B. Silver

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