This October, in the spirit of the season, we offer you spooky stories as only quilters could appreciate. The name for this collection of ghoulish tales is Night Stitches.
A project is included with each story. Here’s this week’s pattern:
The Black Cat Quilt Curse
by Emily Cross and Betsey Langford
I was the only black cat in my litter. Not much stuck with me of those early days, except for my mother’s warning that the curse of a black cat is finding a place of her own. My brothers and sisters went to families with small children, young professionals, and farmers in need of mousers. Each finding a place that suited them. Finally, the last of my litter, a woman named Bernadette took me home. So much for that black cat curse, I thought.
Bernadette rises early in the mornings and opens the living room curtains even before brewing a pot of coffee. I get up with her only so I can move from the bed to the place on the living room carpet where light shines in the front window. It’s wonderful to wake up sun-warmed after Bernadette has eaten breakfast and finished reading the newspaper. It’s also the time of morning she feeds me, and who wants to be awake before that? Not me.
This particular morning, Bernadette moved to her sewing room after cracking open a can of wet food for me. I enjoyed my meal, sat in the window to taunt the neighbor’s Jack Russell on its morning walk past my house, and took a lap around the house before checking on my quilter.
The door looked closed, but I was able to nose it open. Bernadette’s sewing contraption purred as she fed fabric through it.
“Have a good breakfast, Molly?”
“Yes, but maybe the salmon next time.”
“That sounds like a yes to me,” said Bernadette.
I jumped up onto the work table to get a better look at her. She paused sewing long enough to run a hand from the top of my head to the tip of my tail a few times. I arched into each stroke before guiding her to focus under my chin. She stopped her scratching far too soon.
“I need to finish this before guild. No time,” she admonished.
I considered arguing the point, but a bird landed on the feeder Bernadette kept outside the window and I hopped onto the sewing contraption to get a better look.
It was a big, fat cardinal, red as could be. My tail swished as I imagined how hard I’d need to leap, and at what angle, to snatch it from the air.
“You’re lucky I’m inside, bird. Oh, if I was out there… mmmm!”
“Chirp, chirp, Molly. You wouldn’t eat a beautiful cardinal, would you?”
“Only because they don’t make cardinal-flavored wet food,” I said.
Bernadette laughed. “You’re a wicked cat, Molly.”
I glared at the cardinal until it flew away. With a sigh, I pulled my tail to me. Or I tried.
“My tail!” I yowled.
“What? What’s wrong—oh my gosh. Molly, hold still.”
Bernadette grabbed my scruff, a move she hadn’t pulled since I topped ten pounds.
“If you didn’t sit on my machine and put that tail of your in my way, I might not sew it into the quilt,” Bernadette said, laughing as she tugged at the end of my tail.
As soon as she released me, I leapt from the sewing contraption. I just fit under the cabinet full of her fabric. From there I glared at Bernadette’s feet.
“I’m sorry, Molly. Come on out, let me pet you.”
I stayed put. Eventually, she gave up and started the sewing contraption again. In the quiet under the cabinet, even my annoyance couldn’t keep me awake.
When I awoke, the purring of the sewing contraption was gone, and so was any other noise Bernadette usually made in the sewing room. I crawled out from under the cabinet and stretched out my cramped muscles. No, Bernadette was definitely not in the sewing room.
I walked to the door. The closed door. I batted at the edge, thinking it could only look closed. I crouched down and reached my front leg as far as I could under the clearance, flexing my paw to feel for anything on the other side. Still the door didn’t budge.
“Hey! You left me in here!”
I awaited Bernadette’s reply.
“Helloooo! Remember me, your only cat and companion?”
I batted under the door again to no avail.
“I’ll starve to death in here, Bernadette, and then you’ll be sorry!”
Met with silence, I hopped onto the table to look out the window. A good view can sooth many hurts, including being abused, abandoned, and starved by one’s only friend.
Unfortunately, my view was ruined immediately by the fat cardinal looking back at me through the glass, perched in the bird feeder. He flicked his crest at me, smug as could be, so I did the only thing I could to save face: turn around and flip up my tail as I walked away.
A string dangling over the side of a bin caught my eye, so I attacked it for something to do. The whole bin fell, spilling out scraps from Bernadette’s creations. There were a couple papers and bits of plastic packaging, but not so much it couldn’t be ignored. I rooted through the bin until I had its contents spread out into a decent bed. At least the cardinal couldn’t taunt me in my dreams.
I awoke to unmistakable sound of my glorious food can opening. As I remembered my predicament, I ran to the door.
“Bernadette! Don’t let me die!” I sprang into action shouting at the door.
“What are you doing in here? Oh, I see you’ve been redecorating.” Bernadette surveyed the room.
I shot out the door and into the kitchen. Salmon, glorious salmon!
Upon finishing, I found Bernadette curled up on the sofa fussing with a quilt. I snuck in between the folds and nestled in with the quilt surrounding me. With a full stomach, sleep was required. I obliged.
No sooner had I drifted off to dreams of salmon than the quilt was wrenched out from under me knocking me off the edge of sofa. I stood in the floor glaring.
“Come on, don’t be such a fussy muffin,” Bernadette coaxed. I turned around to see who she could be referring to since I’m no fussy muffin. I ignored her. I jumped to the arm of the sofa, not making eye contact, strode along the back and over to the other side. I sat on the arm staring at the wall until I was sure she wasn’t paying attention, then I slipped into the quilt as quiet as a spider. My nap resumed.
Occasionally Bernadette would tug on the quilt, rousing me, but I held my ground. As the tugging grew more frequent, I had an idea. I crawled into her lap. Of course! Why hadn’t I thought of this before? This trick often worked while she was playing with her quilts. I rubbed my head on her hands until she did the only thing she could. She put everything down and scratched my head. At last, I had her full attention. I curled up in her lap on her long strips of fabric to finish my nap.
“Alright, I see how this is going to go.” Bernadette arose, picking me up and carrying me with her. “It’s just as well, I have something special for you.”
“For me?” Maybe more salmon.
She sat me down as she shuffled through her bag she’d taken to guild with her. She pulled what looked to be a little quilt, black and grey with a beautiful block right in the center. Returning to the sofa, she cleared away the quilt and sat the square.
“I made this just for you Molly. It’s your very own quilt.”
I looked at her and then looked at this glorious quilt she made, just for me. My very own. I hopped right into the middle of it and curled up.
“You sit here, and maybe I’ll have less black hair I have to get off this white quilt when I’m done binding it.”
As I drifted off to sleep on my special perch, I remembered what my mother told me about the curse of the black cat. I didn’t have a concern in the world—I was home.