by Rat Lady
A teenager hurts her grandma's feelings, makes a wish, and finds the wish comes true
|The middle-aged woman with the iron gray hair, Pat by name, stood in the quilt barn gazing at a red, pink and purple quilted wall hanging with the blue ribbon pinned in the lower right-hand corner. It was hand-quilted and featured the photo of a girl, perhaps eleven or twelve, in the center square. The brown-haired girl was wearing a pink shirt with a black-and-white cat on the front and a sweet smile on her face. The other eight squares were all different quilt blocks and each used different printed fabrics, but the color scheme was carried through them all. Pat looked over at the diagonally-quilted border, made of tiny nine-patch blocks, then back to the girl in the center and frowned. The girl’s expression had changed to an open-mouthed, surprised look. Pat, slightly shaken, moved on to look at the next quilt, the runner-up, but finally gave up and came back. This time the girl wore a worried expression. ‘I must have had too much sun, or too many French fries,’ thought the woman, ‘since I know that photo can’t change,’ and she turned away to leave. Then she heard the voice, small and quiet: “Don’t go away again,” it said. “Stay with me. I’m lonely.” The woman whirled around—this time the girl wore a wistful smile.
“Did you just speak?” Pat asked, leaning in toward the quilt. “Yes,” replied the girl in the quilt. “Please don’t leave me. I’m so lonely,” and a tear ran down her cheek. “But, but,” stuttered the woman, “you’re a . . . “ “I know,” the girl said softly, “I’m a quilt. But I used to be real—I mean, a real girl. My name’s Kayti, with a y.” “Well, Kayti with a y, tell me why I should stay here and talk to you instead of going directly to the first aid tent to lie down,” Pat said. Kayti looked sad now. “I can tell you a story, the story of how I got into this quilt.” “OK,“ said Pat. “I’m game. Tell me.” And so the girl in the quilt began her story.
“My grandma makes quilts—she was making me a pinwheel one for Christmas. One day I went over to her house to stay overnight while my dad was in class and she was working on a smaller quilt instead of mine, so I asked what it was. She said that she had always wanted to enter a quilt in the Trumbull County Fair, but had never had time while she was working, so now that she was retired she was making a special one to enter. It was going to be her best work, hand-quilted and everything, and she was sure she would win the first-place blue ribbon with it. I wanted to help, and she said I could. She put some kind of old-fashioned music on her CD player, then showed me how to cut strips of each of the red fabrics with her special ruler and the sharp cutting wheel, then cut those strips into the right size for the blocks she was making. I only ruined a few pieces, and she said it was OK, she could use them for another project she was working on. Then she had me cut the pink fabrics—they were all so pretty, and I just love pink. Before I knew it I had cut up all the pink fabric into strips, then into small pieces, just like confetti, and was throwing them around the sewing room. Grandma was mad when she saw all those little pieces on the floor, and even madder when she found out that I had cut up all her pink fabric. Her face even got red! She was so mad at me that she went downstairs to get a glass of water and cool off, and she slammed the door to the upstairs sewing room as she left.”
“I felt bad for a few minutes, but then I saw the purple fabrics and got busy. By the time Grandma came back upstairs with her ice water, I had cut up all the pretty purple fabrics and they were in little pieces on the floor along with the pink ones, and I was already working on the red pieces. I guess that was the last straw—she actually yelled at me. For a long time. At least, it seemed like a long time. And then I really felt bad. I even cried, not because she was yelling, but because I knew she was going to tell my dad. Finally she sat down at the sewing machine and did some sewing, and I just sat on the floor among the pieces of fabric.”
“I sat there for a long time, then noticed that she was working on a very plain square of fine white-on-white cotton. I went over to see what she was doing. She was hand-appliquéing a girl’s face onto the pretty fabric with a fine golden needle and thread that glistened in the light. She explained that she was doing the blanket stitch with silk thread, which would keep the beige of the face on the white background fabric forever. There was some silky golden fabric on the sewing machine, and she said that it would be the hair for the girl. I said that I wanted her to use brown fabric, so the girl would look just like me. She said that she didn’t have any silky brown stuff, and she wanted the hair to shine. I got mad and threw myself down on the floor, kicking the little pieces of colored cotton on the floor, and screamed—I used to get my way with a temper tantrum all the time with my mom, and I just knew it would work with Grandma, too. But I forgot who I was dealing with. Grandma got up, took her glass of ice water, and headed downstairs. She said that when I was done with my temper tantrum, I could come down, but not until I was done. Then she was gone.”
“I hadn’t got my way after all, so I took the appliquéd piece and cut it up the middle. Then I cut it again and again, until the pieces were so small that I couldn’t cut them any more. Then I just screamed and cried until I was tired. I must have cried myself to sleep on the floor, because the music CD was done when I woke up. The clock said it was just before midnight. I saw a bit of light coming in through the curtains and went to the window to look out. The full moon was shining right down on me, and on the pieces of the appliqué that I had cut up. Grandma had worked hard on that piece and I felt bad that I had ruined it. I knew that she would never get her quilt done for the county fair now, and it was all my fault. And Dad would be unhappy with me, too. But the full moon was supposed to grant wishes, so I gathered up all the little pieces of that appliquéd girl in my hands and held them tight while I thought of my dad and sang, ‘I see the moon and the moon sees me. The moon sees somebody I want to see. God bless the moon and God bless me. God bless the somebody I want to see.’ Then I closed my eyes tight and wished that the girl in the appliquéd piece was me, and that Grandma’s quilt was finished. When I opened my eyes, I was here, in the quilt, and it was done.”
“Grandma came upstairs in the morning and found the quilt. She looked for me, but couldn’t find me, then called my dad on her cell phone. He had worked at the truck stop and was asleep, but he got in the car and came right over. They looked at me in the center of the quilt and remarked how like me the girl in the quilt looked, but they didn’t know it was me. I wasn’t able to move, so I couldn’t tell them where I was. My dad knows a lot of police and he called them right away to look for me and put out an Amber Alert, but no one ever found me.”
“Grandma named the quilt for me and entered me in the county fair. She said it was the least she could do, after all. The night they had the judging and pinned the blue ribbon on me was the night of the next full moon. And Grandma was happy. I guess my dad was right when he said, ‘be careful what you wish for—you may get it.’”
Pat rubbed her eyes and looked again at the girl in the quilt. She wore a sweet smile on her face, but didn’t move. Knowing better than to touch an entry and soil it, Pat lifted the corner of the quilt anyway and turned it over to see the label. The name of the quilt was “Kayti.” Dropping the corner of the quilt, Pat headed for the door and made a dash for the first aid tent just across the midway. She bumped into two women just outside the door and kept right on going, muttering, “too much sun, too much junk food.” They watched her go, then turned and walked into the quilt exhibit. One said to the other, “Let’s look at the winning quilt first,” and they walked up to the quilt with the blue ribbon on the lower right-hand corner.