Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Forties Club Finalist #1

Family Jewels
by Kiki Seiffertt


Tingling with excitement, I run my hand over the material. A special order, a Christmas quilt. My basement workshop glitters like a treasure trove: the floor stained with jewel-toned dyes, the drying racks strung like necklaces. In the corner my easy chair holds court with baskets of sewing notions.

As much as I love working the quilt patterns with my needle, I love more the wet, messy work of turning raw material into usable fabric of just the right color. I peruse the shelf of concentrated dyes. Jars of purple and black, chartreuse, lemon, baby blue. Stripes of violet and sage, the colors of my last quilt, leave rings around the dying tubs.

I prepare the ruby and emerald dyes carefully. Half the material steeps in the blood red dye, half swims in the sparkling green. I love watching the rich liquid dance over each fold of the fabric. They’ll sit for a week a more, soaking up the dark tones.

I didn’t realize anyone would find my quilts as lovely as I do, since I thought to experiment with a material no one had ever used. Yet my clients wrap themselves in these blankets, comforted by the soft leathery texture.

“Let’s go!” Mother’s bellow beckons me like Pavlov’s bell. However much I dislike working as her assistant, I know no other way to gather raw material. I reach for my collection of razors and scalpels and head to the stairs. Another cremation. More fabric to skin and dye.

27 comments:

Laurel said...

I love the dreamy description of the creative process and the shift to a grotesque reality at the end. I also like the jarring note of the mother's voice- "Pavlov's bell." Very effective.

Beth Harar said...

I was struck by your use of color. Very nicely done.

J.C. Montgomery said...

Creepily good. Probably not the best use of grammar, but it fits this piece.

Ooo, I'm still shuddering at the thought. (Especially since I quilt)

maybe genius said...

Ooooh, excellent twist. The colors and descriptions are vivid. Great job.

Aerin said...

I'm not sure what JC means about grammar - sorry if I missed that on the read-through.

Er, I mean - fantastic, person-I've-never-met. Great job on this-piece-I've-never-seen-before.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Got a hint of what was coming, but still creepily handled. It's that anticipation that one hopes doesn't mean what one thinks it means. Wonderful.

Oddyoddyo13 said...

What an interesting twist on the concept!

JR's Thumbprints said...

Take out: "Another cremation" and it could pass off that they're getting ready to shear some sheep. I know it's difficult to do in 250-words, but I think more insight into the mom is needed.

Aimee Laine said...

I was picturing the crafting my mother in law does right up until the end ... creepy.

Peter Dudley said...

Nice, tight writing with a vividness. I think you could have punched up the tension a bit, but otherwise quite worthy of the 40s club!

Craig said...

Wow, now that is a hard act to follow. I'm amazed at the level imagery you can produce in so few words.

Aniket said...

Okay now you're scaring me, Kiki. What has Aerin done to you? Back to back creepy posts. You could be my partner if I ever turn a serial killer. I like the way you think. :D

Every bit worthy of the 40s club.

@Laurel: Body count = 1
Let's keep a count, shall we?

Jade L Blackwater said...

Love the colors, textures, and visuals. Nice touch with the final "skin and dye."

Precie said...

Okay, I wanna know who the heck is ordering these quilts! Do they know what they're ordering or do they think it's just regular leather. Is it like when people buy those aynthetic gems made from the ashes of loved ones? Who are these freaky buyers? I've been preoccupied with this issue for over a day...probably a good sign that it's such a memorable story. :) Well done!

Deb Smythe said...

Glad I won't be sleeping under a quilt tonight! *Shivers* This one will stay with me for a while. Nice job.

September said...

Such colorful imagery and then that last stab -- beautifully done. As I read it, I automatically changed the mother's voice to something hoarse, and yet the ending still surprised me. Nice job.

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

I wonder if a fine Chianti goes with the leathery softness of those quilts? *shudder*

Well done!

Hadley said...

The contrast between the craft of homespun quiltmaking and the reality of the story was shocking...and very unexpected. I agree with J.R., though- the word cremation threw me off and I had to re-read. Well done, though.

MRMacrum said...

Now that's the kind of creepy tale only a woman could conjure up. Excellent. I'm still chuckling as I write this.

Allie said...

Oh, sick sick sick. I saw it coming but you still got me.

Lee said...

I love the shift from light to dark. Disturbing, but delicious.

Dottie (Tink's Place) said...

Hi Kiki!

Starting shuddering about half way through.... yikes... no more quilts for me....

Dottie :)

McKoala said...

Did not see the twist coming, what a great set up! Beautiful description, too.

Joni said...

It all seemed so delightfully domestic until the end.

Nice twist. Very vivid imagery. I especially loved the "holding court" line.

Vincent Kale said...

Fantastic visuals and atmosphere. I doubt Mother is going to be around much longer!

JaneyV said...

Kiki what a great read to kick off the contest! I love the description of the dyeing process - the imagery was vivid and intense. The only foreshadowing of the kick at the end, for me, was the line
Yet my clients wrap themselves in these blankets, comforted by the soft leathery texture.
I remember thinking 'leather quilts? that's odd." Then wham!

Loved this one Kiki. Well done.

(PS I didn't notice any grammar gaffes either so I don't think that person you absolutely don't share any DNA with should worry too much.)

Catherine Vibert said...

Great! I got the aha right about when Janey did. Love this one, very creepy in a sensual and beautiful kind of way.