An Unlikely Quilt
She was sitting at the kitchen table tapping her fingers on the empty plate in front of her. Tap. Tap.
"Are you going to have lunch now?" I asked. "You just finished breakfast."
"I'm thinking," she said. Tap. Tap.
"About a new quilt?" I asked. She had just finished one quilt and was in the midst of a second quilt and waiting for fabric to come in the mail that she had ordered to complete it.
"I'm thinking about using up the bunnies," she said.
"Oh," I said. Then, I waited for her to go on. It would have done me no good at all to try to ask about even one bunny let alone how she proposed to use up more than one bunny.
She tapped her fingers. Tap. Tap. "The bunnies are five years old," she said.
"All right, I give up. What bunnies are five years old?"
"The fabric we bought when I first started quilting. I found a yard of it in the back of the drawer that fell out of the cabinet when I was trying to unstick the drawer above it which was stuck."
"Oh," I said.
"I'm not sure about the bunnies," she said two days later as we stood out in the back garden. Actually, she stood. I was stooped over pulling deadheads off an African daisy plant.
My first brief passing thought was that she was commenting on the real live bunnies that sometimes traveled from nearby habitat through a hole under our back fence to nibble at the grass and other plants. But that was a very brief passing thought. I knew within seconds that she was thinking about her fabric. "Change your mind about the quilt?" I asked.
"Not yet. It's just that I'm not sure the bunnies like the quilt or whether what I'm doing makes any sense or if I should use some other fabric or some other block pattern."
"If I know bunnies," I began, knowing bunnies very well, they will like any quilt you make. They will be extremely happy and content quilt bunnies."
"Maybe," she said, but her maybe didn't seem to be a confident maybe. It was a maybe maybe. I plucked a last deadhead and my job was over.
"It will be fine," I said.
"Do babies like odd quilts?" she asked me a few hours later at dinner. Her hands were still. I waited to see if she were going to begin tapping, but she looked at me for an answer.
"Babies like everything," I said. "What's odd about your quilt?"
"It's not what I expected."
"What did you expect?"
"I don't know, but not this."
"And this is?"
"I'm not sure."
"When will you be sure?"
"I'm not likely to know until I finish it."
"And when will that be?"
"It's unlikely I'll know until I'm done."
"I'm not sure I can do it," she said. We were walking along the beach. It was still warm for early November, and the sun sparkled the water and foam was tossed up as waves crashed.
"Sure you can," I said. "Do what?"
"Finish all the blocks and put together the quilt."
"What do the bunnies say?" I asked. If there were one thing I had to always remember, it is what quilt she was working on. And at least some of what she told me about the details of that quilt. Should I forget? Forget it..
"They're confused. I'm confused. You would be too if you were quilting this quilt."
"I'm not a likely quilter," I said for the 4,394,687th time in our married life since she had taken up quilting. "How confused would I be if I were a quilter?" I added.
"I'll finish it anyway," she said, and she kicked at the sand. Twice.
"I'm glad about that," I said.
"I'm doing the binding," she said. "Unbelievable," she said to herself. To me, she said, "Do you know how strange it is that I'm actually finishing this quilt."
"Very strange? Somewhat strange? Not so strange at all?"
"All three probably. If I were a real quilter I would have known from the beginning what I was doing, and I would do it, and I would know what the quilt would look like when it was finished."
"You do know what it looks like, don't you?" I asked. "You didn't make a quilt with your eyes closed?" I didn't expect an answer. I truly believed she could make a quilt with her eyes closed and her hands tied to her side. Well, maybe.
"Of course. I've always known what it looks like, at least when I was well along."
"Then why all the cries of anguish and all the doubt and all the puzzlement?"
"You have to know how this quilt is so unlike anything I have ever done or what I thought I would do."
"Every quilt you make is unlike anything else. You tell me that all the time." She does tell me that. Well, not all the time.
"There are always some things that are the same, and some things are different, and this quilt is probably the same and as different as some of the other quilts, but that's because it's almost finished and it looks like a quilt, even if it is a baby quilt."
"With bunnies for the baby," I said. "What baby?" The most recent baby was born on November 1st, just days before, but that baby's quilt was already finished.
"Somebody will have a baby. It's good to keep a supply ready."
"How many do you have ready in your supply?"
"And how likely is it that after you finish this quilt you'll make another baby quilt?"
"It's likely, but this quilt wasn't likely. I'll show you when it's finally finished."
"When will that be?"
"Tomorrow," she said.
Tomorrow was today, and she finished the quilt. "The bunnies look happy," I said. "Are you happy with it?"
"Of course I'm happy with it. Who said I wouldn't be happy?"
"I said it was an unlikely quilt for me to do. It was."
"Now, well now it's not so unlikely."
"That's what I would say," I said. And I said it.
Copyright 2005 by A.B. Silver
Click here to see finished "Unlikely Quilt"
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