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History Report

April 26, 2017

To burn it would be sacrilegious, has served my family and me and even my country for fifty years. Got it from your grandma, my mama, when I was eighteen, then used it at the women’s college. Kept me warm all of those late nights studying for my finals. Made love on it out at the point overlooking the city, then watched my first child crawl across it, placing each hand in a square as if he was claiming each patch as his own private territory, then the grandchildren used it for their rainy day fortress. When we were poor, it served as a partition between our sleeping and living area. Kept the chill out when we nailed it over that rattling window.  Took it to the beach, would roast hot dogs and marshmallows under the stars when it got dark, kids wrapped up in it to keep the mosquitoes away. Then during the Holocaust…well, I don’t want to say. Are you recording this? Turn it off. You see, we hung it up on the wall above the first landing on the stairs in the tenement house. There was a secret doorway behind it, but you wouldn’t have known that because the stairs went up to another floor of apartments, and nobody would think to look behind that raggedy thing. One time a soldier asked, and we said, it covers up a water stain, or sometimes we would say, there’s a draft there, but they never really said much as they barreled up the stairs looking for Jews. Mama would hide them there, though. She was such a nice landlady, hated the Germans even though she was one. She’d tuck her tenants up in that crawlspace behind the quilt and nobody ever knew. Oh, and now that we have a nicer home, we have it here, pinned up across from the fireplace. It has grown so tattered and thin, we almost thought of framing it in glass, but then like you said, how would it breathe and tell its stories? Such a peculiar thought, but I know what you meant. Sometimes when I feel so alone at night, I sip my cup of tea and think about pulling it off the wall and wrapping it around me, hoping I can disappear into its folds and emerge somewhere out in outer space, somewhere safe from all of the violence here on earth. I can’t believe the government is still persecuting people, saying they are illegal aliens. Gosh, if they knew how many times I took people in when the kids were tots, poor men out of their luck needing a warm meal, well, they’d probably lock me up, too, but not without my quilt. No. That’s why this project is so important. We need more quilts in our homes. Quilts are the overseers of the heart and soul.  That’s why I volunteered to make another one to send to the Syrian embassy. It’s just my hands have grown so weak, and I hope you take up the calling, Sarah Beth. Think of how much this quilt is going to serve you when I die. You make a quilt, you make the earth a better place to live.  Just bury me in that one on the wall, will you? Don’t forget, okay?

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From → Bedtime stories

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