by Gay Degani
SHE MADE QUILTS. Correction. She made quilt tops. No fooling around for her with that itchy batting. What she was interested in was Art. Art with a capital “A.” What she had was an eye for color, shape, art, imagination, illumination. Her mother always told her, ‘Keep it simple, stupid, ‘Do what you’re good at and hire someone to do the part you don’t want to do,’ and ‘don’t sweat the small stuff.’ So, she didn’t sweat. She did what she wanted to do and had “people” for the rest.
Her husband mowed the lawn, gardened when weeds blighted the roses and exterminated moles when they roved underground pushing up clods of dirt. Nothing was more enjoyable to him than sticking anti-mole explosives into holes at predetermined intervals and feeling them rumble through the soles of his work shoes when they went off. She suggested he hire an expert, but he was a do-it-yourself kind of guy, a suburban man of the land.
She turned the garage into her quilt-top room. Ordered her husband to park on the street so the sun could shine through the large glass panes she had placed into the garage door. She hired wood workers to lay in a fossilized bamboo flooring and build deep maple cabinets along one wall for quilt-top storage, an ovoid workstation in the middle of the room for maximum light and space, and a long wide table for laying out her tops.
He slung a hammock between two large oaks, jimmied electrical wiring through flexible tubing so he could have a minifridge within his reach—he liked his vodka chilled—and built a platform for a TV so he could watch football, basketball, baseball, and the occasional tennis match under a spread of rustling leaves.
She added a recliner with five vibration settings in one corner for when her shoulders ached from cutting, laying out, and bending over her Brother CS7000i. She spent hours in that chair, sometimes napping, sometimes dreaming of fabric. Eventually she added a cupboard, a sink, a small refrigerator. It took her hours to pick out several different marble octagons to “quilt” together for the countertop, but when it was done, it was Art with a capital “A.” She was delighted.
He’d watched the workmen go in and out of what used to be his garage, thinking he could’ve done the work for his wife if she’d only asked. But no, she insisted on “experts,” no hubby-handy man for her.
She made 320 quilt tops before she saw her husband drop a thick manila envelope near the glass-paned garage door. She looked at him, no smile between them, no surprise. He turned his back and walked out through the gate, got in his car, and drove away.
She sat at her sewing machine to open the envelope. Knew what it had to contain. Divorce papers. She didn’t cry, only bit down on the inside of her lip for a long few minutes, then went to her cupboard and opened each quilt top, one at a time, and laid them out on her beautiful floor.
They stretched from wall to wall, overlapping here and there. A lifetime of work. She stared at the colors, the charming prints sewn into specific shapes: squares, circles, triangles, hexagons, beautiful, magical kaleidoscopes. They were good, they were Art with a capital “A”, but without the batting, she suddenly thought, they were too thin to keep anyone warm.
Gay Degani has received nominations and honors for her work including Pushcart consideration, Best of the Net, and Best Small Fictions. She’s published a chapbook, Pomegranate, a full-length collection, Rattle of Want, (Pure Slush Press, 2015) and a suspense novel, What Came Before (Truth Serum Press, 2016). She occasionally blogs at:
Words in Place,