Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Playful Stitch

"Hey, San-San! Wanna play?"

It was Brad bugging her again. He smacked lips together, chewing on a stick of Big Red gum. His favorite. Their mom kept a pack in her apron as she scrubbed out the washtub. They had given Roscoe a bath, his trail of bubbles left behind when the terrier made his mad dash to freedom when he knew everyone's hands were slippery with soap.

Sandra shrugged and wiped the front of her wet shirt. The huge water spots dotted the fabric from where she had to hold onto Roscoe as Brad squirted the dog (and her) with the garden hose. She believed he had done it on purpose. Brad claimed it was an accident. Their mother just rolled her eyes and told them both to enjoy the water while they could. It was the end of Spring. Drought season would arrive soon, which meant less water for everyone to use in their cleaning, drinking, and bathing.

Enjoy it while they could.

Gray tennis shoes covered in dust slid over the dry, cracked ground as Sandra rose to her feet. Not even the ground stayed wet. There was no mud to sling at her annoying little brother, and it was too hot to be outside with their play-set baking in the weather. The slide's metal would burn to the touch. The leather seats of the swing would sting their rumps. What game could they possibly play?

"Hide 'n seek, Brad. You're IT!" Sandra tagged him on the arm and scampered around the tool shed, her brother's shout of "NO FAIR" echoing at her running back.

"COUNT, BRAD. COUNT," Sandra shouted back as she fell to all fours and crawled through the pet door into the house. She bumped her head into Roscoe. His small wet tongue appeared, lathering her face in wetness. He could not sit still for his own bath but he was more than willing to give her one. Payback. Doggy style.

"Move, Roscoe." Her hand pushed the side of his belly, the terrier's nails scratching on the kitchen tile trying to keep his balance. It never worked, especially today since Sandra's mom had waxed the floor. His little dog body did pirouettes in his long slide until he bumped with an "arf" into the cabinets.

Sandra's knees banged across the floor, pausing halfway across as her mother came in with arms piled with empty water jugs. Once her mother had filled them with sparkling liquid, the containers would find a resting place in the pantry. For emergency days if the drought became a long one. Needed water to cook with and bathe in.

Sandra continued her scamper until reaching the rug of the living room. She bounded up to feet, tossing her long curls from her eyes as she debated where to hide. She had to hurry. Being only five-years-old, Brad did not know all his numbers in his count to twenty. He would chase after her soon.

Feet ran up the stairs to the second floor. Sandra had to find a good place to hide. Her bedroom was off-limits to her brother, and scary things lurked in Brad's sanctuary. There were hissing things and croaky things and things with hairy legs. Every time he went outside, he would bring home a new pet, tucked under his shirt so their mom would not see it. A jungle in his bedroom, and Sandra was afraid she would not come back out alive. She never figured out how her brother survived in there every night.

Sandra looked around, scratching her head in puzzlement. The tub? No, Brad always checked there first. The laundry hamper? Most definitely not, she might suffocate in there from the funky fumes. Yesterday, Brad had played with the Nelson twins from down the road. They had all gone swimming with the pigs in the Nelson's mud hole. She had warned Brad that not all the brown stuff was mud. He had grinned, already knowing about it. He had gone anyway. Brothers were sometimes boneheads.

Sandra lifted her face, feeling the cool wisps of air from the blowing ceiling fan. Her eyes looked at the ceiling farther down the hall and at the dangling cord.

The attic.

She moved over to the table and unplugged the lamp. Her hands gave Hercules' pushes at the table legs as it scraped over. Sandra climbed on top and grabbed the plastic ring at the bottom of the cord. Shaking her rump in anticipation, she jumped off the edge.

Snick-snick-snick. The folded rungs stretched out creating a makeshift ladder from the second floor into the attic. Giggling, Sandra held on while floating back down to earth. She pushed the table back to its place and plugged in the lamp to cover up her misdeeds. Once up at the top of the steps, she pulled another cord that stretched down to the bottom rung.

Snick-snick-snick. The ladder folded back up. She watched the pale light fade around the closing cracks until the steps were back in place. Turning away, Sandra could see faint brightness in the distance from the window partially covered with a ratty blanket. She meandered her way over avoiding the boxes of old clothes and Christmas decorations (although she did take a quick peek in the boxes to see if they had forgotten any leftover presents inside) as her body neared the window. With her back leaning against the wall, she took a seat.

The seconds ticked away as she tapped her shoes against the creaky floorboards. What was keeping Brad? Sandra should be able to hear her brother's shouting as he went on his scavenger hunt for her. She should have heard his wild stomping throughout the house and the bangs of bedroom doors swinging open and his "AHA . . . GOTCHA" when he thought he had found her.

Gosh, he was sure taking long. Sandra hoped Brad had not decided to give up early and instead go mud wrestling with the Nelson twins. She did not want to stay up there all day. Her small hands flapped the lid of the cardboard box next to her, showing her impatience and boredom. Perhaps she had found a too-good hiding place.

Her eyes stared around the attic. Long trailers of cobwebs hung from the rafters and the vent boxes on the roof as a faint breeze blew in stirring up the dust. The gray webs reminded Sandra of ghosts flitting about, peeking into dark closets looking for rattling bones. Sandra placed her hand over her smiling mouth, amused with her own imagination. She was not afraid as other kids would be in the attic. It did not have the feel of a dark, scary place. Musty. Quiet. Not scary. More like a cave atmosphere, the creaks of the house were echoes of the rock settling as the place begged her to explore it.

Sandra shifted up to her knees to peer inside a box. Yarn. Spools of thread. Bobbins. Needles. This was her mother's sewing box. Such an avid stitcher, pushing feet against the floor to set the rocking chair swinging back and forth, her mother had created everything from quilts to sweaters to even their Halloween costumes. This was back during the days when she had time for the hobby, during the time when the kids were still young and needed to have their afternoon naps. Sandra's mother would lower herself onto her embroidered seat cushion, pick up her sewing kit, and start her knit one-purl two while peacefully listening to her children's quiet snores as they napped on the couch.

Sandra reached inside and pulled out a scrap of cloth: unfinished work. Her mind ticked down the list of things the scrap had once been destined to be. A hat, as she stuck it on her head and placed her palms on hips as she pretended to be strutting down the street dressed like a southern belle headed for the county fair. A scarf; as it laid lonely on Sandra's tiny shoulder but in her thoughts it whipped about while she led her dogsled team through the blizzard trying to get to the isolated town with the desperately needed medicine. She wiggled feet with the fabric clutched between toes, imaging the flying carpet transporting the thief to distant lands of waterfalls and mermaids. Then she laid it between teeth and placed her hands behind her back, the fair damsel tied to the mast of the pirate ship as the handsome Prince Charming fought the evil Captain Hook for her freedom.


Mommy was calling for her. Sandra bounded to feet with the scrap of fabric still in her hand, as she never realized her time in the attic had changed from minutes to hours. Sandra went to the ladder and pushed, the steps descending and almost smacking Brad in his head.

He looked up and frowned. "No fair. You can't hide up there during the game. I can't reach the pull string." He scratched at his chin, dirt under his nails and a strange odor rising from his clothes. He smelled like a pigsty.

Sandra huffed, suspicious. "You weren't even playing the game. You were with the twins again."

Brad sheepishly stared at feet. She saw his guilty expression and shrugged. "Never mind. I had fun anyway."

"Fun? But there's nothing up there." Her brother shook his head. His idea of fun would never involve dusty attics.

"Look at what I found!" Sandra waved the scrap at his face.

Her brother gave a weird stare. The one he normally reserved when he knew that girls were just plain loco. "What is it?"

"It's magic. It's anything you want it to be!" Sandra stuck it on her nose and curled her upper lip to hold the fabric in place. Her mouth looked like a guppy as she tried to speak.

"See! It's a mask for a baseball umpire. And you struck out at home plate for being so stinky."

Brad's mouth popped open in shock. His features began to scrunch up with excitement. "Cool! Let me try!"

"No, I found it. It's mine," Sandra shouted as her brother tried to snatch it away. Her fingers clutched the cloth as she hustled down the stairs with Brad chasing after her. They both raced into the kitchen, forgetting about the slippery floor.

Thump! They fell down on rumps, the cloth flying into the air as they slid across the floor all the way to the door. Both Sandra and Brad watched in horror as Roscoe appeared, doggy paws scrambling to reach the new chew toy. Shiny teeth readied to grab it when a hand lowered and lifted the scrap to safety.

"Where did this come from?" Sandra's mother asked as she flipped the small fabric from one side to the other.

"San-San found it up in the attic," Brad squealed on his sister as he pointed one finger. Sandra shot him a mean glare wishing her brother really were a pig. At least pigs could not talk and get their sisters into trouble.

"Is that true, Sandra?"

Sandra nodded her head solemnly. "We were playing hide 'n seek and I was in the attic. I found your old sewing box."

"I forgot it was even up there," Sandra's mother murmured. She tilted her head in puzzlement. "I wonder what I was going to make with this?"

"I think its part of an astronaut suit," Brad piped up, wanting the scrap for himself.

"No. It's a princess' purse with pretty sparkles and buttons," Sandra countered. She had found the scrap, so she believed she should have first dibs at it.

Sandra's mother blinked her eyes at their arguing. Then she shook her head. "I think I know what it is."

"What?" Sandra and Brad said in unison.

"It's a Frisbee." Their mother chucked the scrap toward them, as Brad and Sandra scrambled and rolled on top of each other trying to get it. Laughter erupted in the kitchen as Roscoe howled to join in on the fun.

Sandra's mother shook her head at her children’s wild imaginations. There was no point putting the fabric back into the box in the attic. She had no idea when the opportunity would come when she could get a moment's peace to start her sewing again. Besides, there were better uses for it now, as Brad and Sandra imagined far-off worlds and swashbuckling adventures with such a tiny scrap of knitted cloth.

She watched them at play, the times of her enjoyment with stitching now overlapped by the joys of raising kids. She did not know how long the fabric's threads or their playful childhood would last.

Let them enjoy it while they could.
Sorry for not having a regular post today. My mind is not in the best of moods. So I just posted a fiction story taken from my past files.


  1. You really do write a lot. I admire your attention span and ability to stick with the story idea. :)

  2. This post was wonderful. And it is so very true; who knows how long an imagination of childhood will last; lucky are those who can say "forever".;)
    Sorry to hear about your "not best of moods". Hope you feel better soon.;)

  3. Lovely little story. You obviously haven't forgotten how excellent it is to imagine as a child does. Great gift to have.

  4. Angie: Yeah, the stories just come to me any old time THEY choose, which is all the time now. And it seems I'm writing faster and sticking with the idea of the story. It (maybe) took an hour to pen this one. All I have to do now is try to sell my stories. Too bad this is not as easy to conquer as my attention span.

    Protege: I guess we adults are so prone to push our imaginations away as being too childish. I see nothing wrong in engaging with it to tell a story, or allowing the little ones to have their imaginative play for as long as possible.

    Suldog: Not sure if I would call it a gift. Every gift has a purpose, and I'm still trying to find my little niche on why I have mine.

  5. I loved the story, Michelle. As for your gift and its purpose... entertaining your readers may not be the be-all/end-all but it sure works for me!

  6. michelle, THAT is a keeper, no question... very nicely wrought! :D

    as for your gifts, they ARE plural, obviously meant to entertain anyone who slows down long enough to see and enjoy them :)

  7. Buck: Well, I'm all about the caring and sharing with my gift when it comes to this blog. I'm simply wondering where else it might lead.

    Laughingwolf: Yes, I keep all my little stories. Nothing ever gets chucked out. I never know if I might be able to change a story to something better.

    Gifts? Plural? Perhaps, dear friend, perhaps...

    One day, I might break out further...

  8. Nice story, Michelle. :-)

    My head is in a fog as well. I have been busy, busy, busy. Don't know if I'm coming or going.

  9. Demon Hunter: Thanks for stopping by!

    I don't know what is with this funk of mine. I don't usual get this way, even during the holidays. I guess it has just been one of those years that I wish I had the chance to relive better.

    Chris: Thanks!

  10. It is a gift to remember the thoughts and feelings of childhood. It's a double gift to employ it when you have kidlets of your own. Then it's a two-way street. Thanks for the entertaining glimpse into childhood. :)

  11. Hilary: You are welcome! I figured I should post a nice story for people to read during the holidays.

    *BTW, I finally signed up over at AW, although I goofed in the registration. Put myself down as a minor. Stupid me! Haha...*

  12. t's in a funk over her upcoming wedding, i'm sure ;) lol

    michelle, you ooze talent, girl :D

  13. Laughingwolf: Gasp! Demon Hunter is getting married! Congratulations!

    And you ooze... um... gosh! There's so much: happiness, goodwill, friendship and so much more. I'll get back to you on this one, laughingwolf. :)


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