A story based on the prompt from "The Writer's Cramp" about an unfinished blanket.
|I find myself at a garage sale this morning, honestly unsure of how I got here. It’s a string of garage sales really. Half of this neighborhood I’ve wondered into is participating. As a little girl, I enjoyed things like this because they felt like treasure hunts and hope. I think hope is what I’m looking for now.
I’ve passed lots of clothes and books and knick-knacks, old movies and a couple of rocking chairs, but it’s at the sixth house that I find the blanket. The pattern looks to be knitted, and it’s beautiful. It’s thick, and it feels plush when I press my fingers to it. The colors are soft, some of them lavenders or periwinkles maybe, some of them rosy pinks.
I’m not sure if the blanket really has a scent, but I get the impression of cinnamon and hot chocolate in the air, and my hands feel warm with the weight of the blanket in them.
When the blanket falls to its full length, I realize one end doesn’t look like it’s done. I puzzle over that for a few heartbeats, and the confusion must show on my face because the woman behind the table where all the trinkets and toys are laid out comes to stand in front of me. She had been taking money from someone else a moment ago, but now it’s just she and I.
“You’re right, it’s not done,” she says to me.
“Well, I can tell you the story as it was told to me if you want to hear it.”
“Yes, please,” I say, finally looking noticing the woman’s honey brown eyes, chestnut hair, and a smile that seems sympathetic.
She takes the blanket from me and holds it from the top. “This first part was knitted by a woman named Gretchen. Her granddaughter had fallen ill. Scarlett fever. And they weren't sure if she was going to make it. Gretchen knit by the girl’s side, praying to her Goddess with every stitch for her granddaughter’s health. When her granddaughter did get better, she laid it to the side for a while. She’d run out of yarn anyway, and now she had a rambunctious young girl in her life again. It’s said that a few years later, Gretchen’s friend Mabel was worried sick over her husband. He’d come down with pneumonia.”
“Indeed. Gretchen remembered her knitting then. She couldn’t find the exact same color, but she found a similar yarn and gave to Mabel. Now Mabel prayed to her God with every stitch she made, and when she had run out of yarn, her husband was well, and they were able to go home. Mabel held onto the blanket until her friend Martha was worried about her grandson. Martha didn’t knit, but her daughter, Katherine, was willing to learn. Katherine took the blanket and started learning to knit. It was painstaking and slow because she’d never tried it before, but she believed if she could just get through a ball of yarn that her son too would be well again. She prayed with every stitch, and at the end of the yarn, her son came out of his coma. She’d made friends with a woman named Elizabeth, whose daughter was battling cancer in the same hospital and Katherine passed on the blanket and her knitting needles and showed Elizabeth how to knit. They both prayed with every stitch.”
The woman took a breath, and I took one too, realizing that I hadn’t been breathing while I listened.
After a few breaths, she started again. “The blanket was set aside after that for a while, until one day Elizabeth’s daughter, Chelsea, found out her best friend is missing. This friend, Dana and her family hadn’t been seen for a couple of days after an unexpected storm had hit the woods where they’d been camping. Chelsea found the blanket her mother had stashed away years ago and a book on knitting, and she too took about to praying and stitching. She’d never been one for religion, but she hoped the universe would be kind anyway. A day later, the family was found. They were dehydrated, and a little banged up, but otherwise okay.”
“Wow,” I said as she paused again.
“So then one day Chelsea gave the blanket to me. She’d been in the hospital, witnessing the birth of her grandchild when I was there. We met getting coffee. My sister had been hit by a car, and Chelsea said she knew she’d brought the blanket with her for a reason. She gave me everything I needed, my kids helped me look up videos on Youtube to teach me to knit, and I added my part. A few days later, my sister was able to go home. She had three bruised ribs and a broken leg, but the concussion hadn’t done any permanent damage. When Chelsea told me the story, she told me that each woman somehow knew when it was time for the blanket to move on and I felt that way today when I set up my table this morning.”
I felt my throat tighten up. “How much for it?”
“Oh no, dear, it’s free. Just remember to pass these on,” the woman hands me the blanket and a pair of knitting needles, “when the blanket tells you it’s time.”
“How can I thank you… Oh, don’t even know your name.”
“Jennifer, and you are?”
“Well, Cassidy, remember the story and pass it on.”
Jennifer seems so sure it would help, and for the first time in weeks, I have hope that Charlotte’s infection will clear and we’ll get married in the spring, just like we planned.
“Thank you,” I tell her again.
She gives my shoulder a squeeze before I make my way back to my car and pull out my phone to start the GPS. I still can’t remember how I got here, so maybe, just maybe it's magic.