Short Story: Loving Stitches by Wendy Strain
Christmas is a special time of year for all of us here at Our Write Side. Last week, our CEO shared a funny spin on The Night Before Christmas with you. Today, our social media and marketing manager, Wendy Strain, shares a short story called Loving Stitches with you.
Wendy Strain explores the imagination as a fiction writer at the same time that she supports herself as a ghostwriter, copywriter, editor and story coach. It’s entirely true to say her life is dedicated to the written word. In true creative spirit, she is a fan of multiple genres of writing and has a passion for protecting the environment, both of which you’ll discover on her website at www.writeonwendy.com or by following her on Twitter @WendyStrain.
There are many who will tell you Wendy Strain doesn’t live in the same world as the rest of us, but Wendy will tell you there are many worlds and we all have a choice as to which ones we want to live in. She’s happy to share a few with you and invites you to join along on the adventure of discovering new ones all the time.
At heart, Wendy loves great stories – living them, writing them, revising them, polishing them, even ghostwriting them! Today, she’s living her passion as a ghostwriter, editor, story coach and freelance writer, completely dedicated to the written word in all its many wonderful forms. She hosts the #WOW555 weekly writing challenge on her blog and is working on her own sci-fi series Out from the Delta Shadows.
Once upon a time, she worked as a journalist and community newspaper editor for a small section of the Dallas, Texas Metroplex, specializing as much as she could on promoting the arts and entertainment communities of several small towns. When newspaper started to die, she moved into freelance writing until she decided she really wanted that Master’s degree in English. Having accomplished that, she’s back to freelance copywriting and considering the PhD. Is she crazy? Check her out on your favorite social media channel and decide for yourself.
“I can’t do it.”
Emily threw down the metal hook with enough force to make it bounce off the table, the yarn still tangled in her fingers. The tangled skein in her lap made a jumbled mess on the floor as she stood up and stomped to the other side of the room as only a 10-year-old could do.
Kristen patiently rose from her own chair and started picking at the threads on the ground. She used the loop Emily had been working with to trace the path, slowly pulling apart the uneven stitches her niece had made and rolling the skein into a tidy ball. It took her about half an hour, but when she finally finished, she looked up to see Emily sitting in a chair opposite, just watching her.
“You look so peaceful doing that,” Emily said.
“I suppose I was.”
“Is that why you do it?”
“Not exactly, but it’s a nice side effect. Do you want to try again?”
Emily picked up the piece Kristen had been working on before Emily’s temper tantrum.
“This is so pretty,” she said, throwing one end of the mostly finished scarf around her neck. “Do you really think I’ll be able to make something like this someday?”
“Yep. It isn’t as hard as it looks.”
“But mine doesn’t look anything like yours.”
“It takes a little practice to keep the stitches even, but you can do it.”
“I don’t have time to practice,” Emily complained. “The party is tomorrow.”
“They won’t care if it isn’t perfect,” Kristen reminded her. “They’ll just be glad you thought of them.”
“I want them to like it.”
Emily thought about it for a few minutes.
“OK. Show me.”
Kristen again patiently showed Emily the stitch one slow move at a time. With her arms around her niece, she then guided Emily’s hands through the motions as they worked another row together. Then Emily started working on it by herself.
Again, the stitches were a bit uneven, some too tight, some too loose, but Emily kept at it. Every once in awhile, she looked up at the party invitation sitting on the table and went at the project with renewed determination. Sometimes she chose to unravel a row here or there to rework it.
Kristen was astounded at her normally hyperactive niece’s careful dedication to the project. An activity that would have taken Kristen two hours took Emily most of the day but she never again gave any indication she was ready to quit. By nightfall, she’d created a long strip of variegated color.
“I did it, just like you said I could,” she told Kristen, a note of pride in her voice, as she was tucked into bed that night.
“You were determined.”
“But it isn’t finished. And it isn’t very pretty.”
“Would you like me to put a border on it for you?”
Kristen spent half an hour after that finishing off the scarf and wrapping it carefully in a gift bag. By the time they needed to leave for the party, Emily was all ready.
When Emily shyly handed her bag to the old-looking woman she’d been assigned, she did so with an apology.
“I did the best I could,” she said. “I’m sorry I couldn’t do better.”
The woman laughed, showing the missing teeth in her mouth, and kindly patted Emily’s hand.
“Honey, doing the best we can is all we can ever do. Thank you for whatever it is you have here. Do you know this is the first Christmas gift I’ve received in five years?”
Emily looked to her aunt for direction, but Kristen seemed to be busy serving more food to some of the other gray-brown people filling up the room. It made Emily sad to see that they all seemed to dress in the same color, the color of homeless.
The woman had started to open her present. A gasp of surprise came out of her lips as she pulled the scarf from the bag. It was echoed a moment later by Emily. It didn’t seem to be the same scarf.
“This is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen,” the woman said, wrapping the scarf around her neck. “And you made it, didn’t you?” Tears came to the woman’s eyes as she bent to hug the child.
Seeing the bright colors against the drab background of the homeless shelter holiday party creating a rainbow of love in the woman’s tears, Emily finally understood what her aunt had been trying to tell her. More than just the pretty colors, time and caring made the greatest gifts.