Lost in Spaces




"I lost the aye," she said.

"What's an aye?" I asked.

"The letter, A," she explained.

"Try the alphabet," I said. "The first letter."

"I'm serious," she said. "Help me look for it."

"Where did you lose it?" I asked, still not knowing what kind of conversation I was in, but I did have an inkling that it had to do with quilting. In our house, almost everything does.

"It's probably in the trash," she said.

"That'll be hard to find, then," I said.

"It is small."

"Not a capital A?" I asked. I was sure she wasn't talking at all about the letter A. I know what that looks like. It looks like A or a.

"I'm not talking about letters here. I'm talking paper-piecing. I'm talking about some very tiny pieces sewn together on a very small piece of paper, and I lost the small piece of paper which was labeled A."

"Oh," I said. Not the letter O."

"Actually it's A-3. There are several A pieces and I just lost one."

"In the trash?"

"I think so."

"How did it get in the trash?"

"Clippings and scraps and other leftovers," she said. "I put the whole pile of scraps into the small trash bag, and I put the small bag into the big trash bag in the kitchen."

"What's the little piece of paper look like?" I asked.

"I'll show you," she said. And she showed me on the pattern. The little piece of paper was little.


What she had lost was a piece of paper about one inch high and two inches wide. On it, as far as I could tell from the pattern she showed me in her quilting magazine, were sewn hundreds of thousands of pieces of colored fabric. It was part of the space shuttle she was putting together to fly over the earth from space. "I'll find it," I said.

"It's really small," she told me again.

"I can do small," I said, and I really thought I could find the lost piece of paper and the tiny piece of fabric covering it.

"If you can't find it, I can do it again," she said.

"I can find it," I said, which is why I went looking for the small bag. I found it in the trash in the larger plastic bag which I had earlier taken outside to the big trash bins and, of course, it was covered with several more large bags of trash, and it began hailing just at that moment, pellets of ice funneling down my neck as I was digging through the trash to find the small bag which I did find and took inside and emptied over the kitchen table. "I'll find it," I said just before I saw how many small pieces of scrap paper and scrap fabric covered the table, all scraps of all sizes, most of them small, but none of them was the missing piece. "I can't find it," I said.

"I'll do a new one," she said, not at all chagrined that she had already worked so hard to do the first one.

"You're brave," I said, for I truly believe all quilters are brave. Who else but a quilter would venture forth to do battle with thread and fabric to create a cover for a bed or a wall or child who was chilly?


"Oh, drat," she said in a high-pitched quilter's voice from upstairs. The sound screamed down the stairs to me ears which were otherwise not being used as I made a salad for dinner.

"What was that drat all about?" I asked her when she came down to dinner.

"What drat?"

"That 'drat' you shouted all over the house before," I accused.

"I found the A-3 part," she said.

"So, you should have yelled a 'Whoopee!'"

"It was a whoopee drat," she said.

"What's the difference?" I had to know. I always have to know if it has to do with quilting which meant that I couldn't ever forget it and its meaning.

"It means I found it after I already made a new piece."

"You made a new A?"

"I just told you that."

"Well, that's good. At least you know you didn't throw it out in the trash."

"It might have been lost in the trash," she said.

"Where did you find it?"

"In with the B pieces.

"The B pieces?" Yes, I heard her. I knew there were B and C and D and E pieces and more pieces.

"It was lost and it was found," she said.

"A prodigal piece," I said.


"Never mind. I'm glad you found the piece with the A."


It rained the next day and then it cleared up, and just as we were going out for our walk for the first time in two wet soggy days, just as I waited at the foot of the stairs for her to come down from her sewing room, she didn't come down.

"Are you coming?" I yelled up.

"No," she said.

"No? Why no? The sun is finally out."

"I lost the D," she said.

"Plain D?"


"I'll get the trash," I said.


Copyright 2006 by A.B. Silver

Click here to see finished "Shuttleview" Quilt

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