Part two of our serialised story by Queenie Young
The sewing machine made a scary noise, then it jammed and then the needle broke. A line of blood trickled down Lucy’s hand. She puffed out her cheeks and sat back in her chair. She felt like crying, not because of the broken needle, or the blood, or even that she’d have to unpick this bit of patchwork and start all over again. Lately she’d been feeling that this new beginning in life had itself become a little bit jammed.
Irene bustled over brandishing a packet containing a new sewing machine needle in one hand and a plaster in the other. “Ouch, does it hurt, love?” she asked, her face creasing with concern as Lucy dashed away an escapee tear with the back of her hand.
“No, no, I’ll be fine. I’ll just start have to start this bit again, that’s all.”
“Maybe next week, though,” said Irene glancing around the church hall. It was empty apart from the two of them. Lucy had been so engrossed in her sewing that she’d lost all track of time. The sewing class had officially finished over half an hour ago she realised, looking at the clock above the stage at the far end of the hall.
“Oh Irene, I was so caught up with this,” she began apologetically. “You should have said something. Oh dear,” she continued. “I imagine you just want to lock up and go home. And I need to get back for the babysitter!”
Irene shrugged and smiled, squishing her vast bottom into a chair beside Lucy’s table. She handed Lucy the plaster. “Not to worry. I’ve got to wait for my nephew to come and collect me anyway,” she explained. “He runs an art class in the next village on a Tuesday – he must have run over time too.” Lucy smiled as she fixed the plaster over her scratch and began to tidy up fragments of material and thread.
She’d enjoyed coming to these sewing classes in the church hall – she’d always wanted to learn how to properly use a sewing machine so she could make her own soft furnishings for the house, and it had seemed like a good way to make new friends. And she had made new friends, at least to some degree. Did it matter that they were thirty years older than her and sported startlingly blue rinses? Yes, it would be good to meet some people her own age she thought, but she’d only lived here for six weeks and these things took time.
“You look troubled,” observed Irene, placing a hand on Lucy’s shoulder. “Is there anything I can help with?”
Lucy wished there was, but what could Irene possibly do to help her solve the problem of one homesick little boy, a sick Suzy sheep who would probably need putting down in the next couple of days if her condition didn’t improve and her fledgling business that seemed doomed before it even got off the ground. Maybe Wales just didn’t need another freelance illustrator. She sighed heavily. “It’s hard to know where to begin really,’ she said ‘so maybe it’s best not to.”
Irene scoffed in response and snatched up the patchworked material that Lucy had spent the past few weeks painstakingly working on. There were a dozen or so squares, neatly cut, hemmed and sewn together around a central pentagon shape. Gradually it was beginning to take shape.
“Look at this,” said Irene, pointing in turn at each of the individual squares of vintage material. “When you began this, you didn’t have anything, just lots of old scraps that didn’t have much use.” She laid the patchwork on the table and spread it out carefully. “But slowly it’s coming together, you see? You’re gathering all those remnants to make something beautiful. I know it’s hard sometimes when the needle breaks and you stab your hand,” she said with a wink, “but just persevere, just keep going and you’ll have a beautiful quilt in no time.”
Lucy nodded slowly, beginning to understand the meaning behind Irene’s words. She was a taskmaster that much was certain and her method of teaching was often brusque, but Lucy had had the gut instinct when she first met Irene that she was kind and wise. And Irene was right; it was better to take it one step at a time.
At that moment, there was a loud bang at the rear of the church hall as the door was flung open and a stiff cold draft swept in from outside. Lucy shuddered involuntarily. A tall man in a ridiculous red bobble hat and matching gloves stomped in.
“Sorry Aunt Irene,” he said, taking off his hat to reveal a mop of dark curls that framed an extremely handsome face. “I got caught up at class. Are you ready to go?” he asked. Lucy noticed how he completely ignored her, failing to make any kind of eye contact with her. How rude, she thought.
As Irene unsquished her bottom from the chair, Lucy gathered the last of her things and tidied away the sewing machine. Her back was turned, but she was aware that a pair of eyes were following her every move. She steadfastly refused to turn around and look at him now, though, not when he’d ignored her so comprehensively just moments ago.
And what was this idea she’d had of him being handsome? She pushed it firmly and forcefully out of her head…