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Episode 86. The Seamstress Line
It was Delilah's second time out with her mother's diary. She wanted it to become her own diary but still felt like an intruder. So this time she thought she would examine the seam that connected herself and the woman the world knew as Big Bertha.
For starters she took the little leatherbound volume outside to the wooden lawn chair in the backyard by the wild rose bushes where her mother had been sitting when she died.
In that place of departure, with the handwriting of the departed's last words before her, she lifted the pen but was stalled by a seismic occurrence within as of an earthquake along the fault line of her heart.
It was also, she thought as the tremors subsided, like the way she had felt the first time she made love with her husband.
With that thought in mind, she began.
"I was good at what I did, and had come not to mind it, but when I found myself confronting my dead damnable double-dealing darling, it brought me up all standing. And instead of just making his face right for a public viewing, I made him into a clown. I went way beyond. And even though I fixed it in time, the monkey wrench was in the works. I couldn't go back. I don't know what I would have done. I didn't really need to work, now that Cousin Emma is living with us and putting her fortune at our feet. But I needed to do something."
In the interim between when she could continue and when she could not, she listened to the love-calling chirping of a cricket in the rose hedge.
"I hope you get yours, buddy," she said. "Just don't take it too seriously."
"It was a devastation when my mother died," she continued in the diary. "but somehow, and completely impossibly, it has also become my salvation. Because she put things together instead of tearing them apart. She did it with her great loving care and compassion, and she did it with her sewing machine.
"Still I don't know if I would have thought of taking up where she left off. I have the skill at the machine because she taught me early, when I was just a girl, but as for keeping a family together, oh no, I had as much an idea about that as I do for turning lead into gold. But then when Cousin Emma, who was also looking for something to do because her own grief was so heavy, started gathering Mama's effects, we came across her first sewing machine, the one her mother taught her on and that her mother's mother taught her mother on. It wasn't in good condition. Mama wasn't one to dwell in the past. It was in its wooden box in a corner of the woodshed, rusting away. Daddy Mac mentioned it when he heard what Emma was up to. There was a pile of old cedar shingles on top of it that Daddy had gotten off an old roof and for years had been using for kindling.
"At first I just thought, 'Throw it away,' because I'm not very sentimental either, but when I held it in my hands and it made rust stains on my skin and on my white blouse, then something happened that I can't explain. Maybe osmosis is the word. Anyway it was like the rust went right into me, of that old old machine that had seen so much use, but it wasn't like rust it was heart's blood.
"Anyway, I thought I was a modern girl, making her own way and finding out things for herself. But since I followed the intuition that came to me while I was holding that abandoned old nothing, since I sat down in Mama's place and started using her good machine, the one she spent her labours on and that made her eyes hurt so bad cause she spent so many hours there, since then I have felt something that I can only describe as like the tumblers of a lock falling into place. Something that was closed opened up. I feel connected. I feel free.
"It's suppertime now so I have to go in. Not because I have to do the cooking. Daddy Mac insists on doing that. But because I am part of the family and now part of the line of seamstresses that is part of the family. There is a place that is good for me to occupy, and not just for me. An old wooden chair with legs my big old mother made unsteady. Big old Bertha who was good for everybody.
"We're having fried haddock. Daddy will brag about how fresh and sweet it is and how cheap he got it and how the spices he uses in the flour were passed down from his father. I don't believe him - Mama told me she gave him the recipe and that sometimes he makes things up just to remember his father whom he didn't really like - but I love to hear Daddy talk and so it's fine.
"Listen. Sir Barksalot smells it too, and is not one to keep quiet about it.
"Yes, yes, I'm coming!"
19 September 2018
Prospect, Nova Scotia
Keywords:Gibbs, Willcox, and, antique, box, clasp, close-up, hinge, lock, machine, rusted, sewing, spool, wooden