"I think I'm all skewed up," she said.
"What?" I asked. I looked at her. She seemed a little distraught but otherwise fine.
"I'm askew," she said.
"You look fine," I said.
"I can't see straight," she said. She looked at me.
"Am I crooked?" I asked. I leaned to the left and then back to the right.
"Are you bent?" she asked. "You look a little bent."
"No," I said, straightening myself. "And you don't look bent either," I said. I looked at her more carefully. "Have you been quilting?" I asked.
"I'm finished quilting," she said.
"How finished?" I asked. It was an easy question to ask. I had it memorized. I always asked her that when she said she was finished with a quilt. Sometimes she said she was finished being finished. Other times she said she was never finished.
"I'm never really finished. I just stop when I'm done."
"So, what skewed you up?" I asked. I wasn't in any way sure what she was saying or what I was asking. That was typical of quilting conversations.
"Pineapples," she said. "Wonky pineapples."
"Well, that explains it," I said.
"No it doesn't. You have to ask me what it means when I say wonky pineapples because just saying pineapples will make no sense to you."
"Will it make sense to other quilters?"
"It might," she said.
"So, go ahead, make sense to me," I urged.
"I can't see straight anymore. I'm off center. Off kilter. At an angle. Distorted. All askew."
"You're saying that you see things crooked, at an angle, lopsided, bent, mixed up."
"And that's because you were quilting?"
"That and because of the pineapples."
"You're making a pineapple quilt." I guessed. It was a guess that was based on what she had been saying the last few minutes. But, to be truthful, at that moment, my mind was off center.
"It's all akimbo," she said. "Like this," she said, and she put her hands on her hips with her elbows bowed out to the sides.
"The quilt looks like that?" I asked.
"The pineapples look like that," she said.
"How are they supposed to look in a quilt?" I asked. The idea of having a piece of pineapple just then whet my appetite. There were pineapples in the market, on sale. Perhaps when I straightened her out I could convince her that life was fine and worth going to the store for a pineapple to eat.
"Straight and pineapplely," she said.
"I never made a pineapple quilt before, and I didn't pay enough attention to the pattern, and my pineapples don't look tasty."
"Are they supposed to look tasty?" I asked. "I would certainly have liked a tasty pineapple then.
"It's a quilt with a design that sort of looks like pineapples but not real pineapples."
"Wouldn't you like to go get some real pineapples?" I asked It was worth a try.
"No. I just finished the quilt and I want you to tell me that it's the quilt that's askew and not me. I keep seeing lines in the wrong places and not acting the way lines are supposed to act."
"Lines have a way they're supposed to act?" I asked.
"In quilting, they do. You know that. You've seen some of my quilts where the lines run away from where they're supposed to be."
"Bad lines," I said. "And you have bad pineapples now?"
No. They are good pineapples. I followed the pattern and they came out just as they were supposed to, sort of, but my head is messed up now."
"Show me the quilt," I said. It was the only way I was going to understand what both of us were doing standing in the hall when we could have been at the market buying pineapples and maybe plums and peaches and even strawberries. It was strawberry season. Pineapple slices with strawberries. Maybe a little whipped cream.
"I know what you're thinking," she said.
"You're thinking about strawberries, with whipped cream," she said.
"How do you know that?" I asked.
"I'm a quilter. I know."
"Show me the quilt," I said.
She showed me the quilt. The pineapples were askew. "You're right," I said. "Skewed up."
"They're supposed to be that way."
"Of course. You don't think I'd accidentally make crooked pineapples, do you."
"No, of course not. It's just that I thought...." What did I think?
"It's just that when I look at the quilt, at the design, at the pineapples, my head leans over to the side and my eyes become slanted."
"But the quilt is all right?"
"Of course it is. But I've been looking at it for weeks, and my eyes are out of place now, and my mind is bent, and I don't know if I can unskew myself."
"You want to be normal again?" Can a quilter ever be normal? I've been debating that question with myself ever since she had first explained fat quarters to me.
"I am normal. By definition, a quilter is normal. I'm just a little askew."
"I like the quilt," I said.
"Straight on?" she asked.
"Straight as an arrow."
"Then let's eat," she said.
"Let's eat?" I asked.
"I bought a pineapple," she said. "To celebrate." She added.
"You want strawberries, too?"
"With whipped cream. So I don't become crooked or bent or tilted," I said.
"Just don't get whipped cream on the quilt."
"I promise," I said. I looked at the quilt again. Askew or not, it was a fine quilt. Quite pineapplely, too.
Copyright 2007 by A.B. Silver
Click here to see finished ""Wonky Quilt"
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