A few weeks after my grandmother’s death, her quilt began crawling from her bed in the early hours and roaming downstairs. You’d hear the rustle as it went past the door, and in the morning find it curled somewhere, like a dog that had died of a broken heart in the night.
The quilt had been made by my great-aunt Mabel. It was a crazy quilt, and a fancy one too. While Mabel’s eye for color might have been a little off (the predominant shade was orange), her expert craftsmanship and the fabric she’d used made it exceptional. Bits of velvet were soft as mouse ears, laid between strips of satin ribbon, and embroidered flowers bloomed along every careful seam. Smaller than most quilts — Grandmother had been a diminutive woman, and Mabel had made it to fit her narrow widow’s bed.
Finally one morning I went down in the morning’s early hours. The quilt lay beside the window, spread out as though basking in the moonlight, while across the room its counterpart swam in the watery mirror under a cold white rectangle.
I felt I was intruding, but I was tired and the quilt had been keeping me awake.
Thus my words were not particularly kind.
“She’s dead,” I snapped.
The quality of the silence in the room changed. I realized that the quilt had not known this. She had died in the hospital, after all. To the quilt, it might have seemed that she had gone on a visit somewhere. Only when days had turned into weeks had it begun to worry.
“I’m sorry,” I said. The quilt remained quiet, unmoving.
Turning around, I went back upstairs.
When I came down in the morning, the quilt still lay there. But as I came closer, I saw that it was a layer of pieces of cloth on the floor, pieced together, but with every seam or stitch gone, undone.
The pieces fluttered as I opened the window. They rose up in a great swirling mass and poured out like a swarm of butterflies, leaving only bits of twisted thread behind.
Cat Rambo‘s latest collection, Near + Far, is now available from Hydra House.