Hi there! Thank you so much for your feedback on the last installment of Unraveled. I’m super happy that you’re enjoying it. I must admit, I didn’t think I would get so many comments from people in suspense, wanting to know what would happen next. I’m quite astonished, really, that people have read it and wanted to know what happens next! So I’ve decided to start posting an installment a week. At least as long as my schedule allows. 🙂 I’ll aim for every Saturday or something like that, but I didn’t want to keep y’all waiting any longer.
Also, I’m aiming to make every installment around 1,000 words, but today you get a double helping. Consider it a belated Christmas present. 🙂
Unraveled, Part 3
I got through the rest of the morning on autopilot, my thoughts going a mile a minute. It was a busy morning, and I got two more additions to the “Projects” section – which made me shudder, thinking about the Briars and Roses Shawl – and helped five people select the perfect yarn for their project. I put a note on the door – Out to lunch, back by two – and took a walk, looking for a place to eat.
Eventually I decided on Starbucks, because I wasn’t that hungry. I ordered a hot chocolate and took a seat outside, the wind blowing my hair into my face. I took a sip and burned my tongue.
I was doing a poor job distracting myself. This Starbucks trip was supposed to get my mind off the wrap, not give me more time to think about it. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. With a jolt, I realized that was what the lady – Irene – had written in that notebook.
So I did the one thing I knew would distract me – I texted my sister, Hayden. She was two years younger than me, and the most cheerful person I’d ever met. She was helping me look for apartments, but in the meantime we still lived in the same house. Although I was excited to get my own place, it was nice hanging out with Hayden, so I wasn’t complaining.
Hi, how’s your day going?
She texted back less than a minute later.
I took another sip of my hot chocolate, thinking of how to reply to that one. Finally I typed:
The usual ??
Hayden didn’t text back. I wondered if I had scared her off with my emojis. But she was a huge fan of texting lingo, so she couldn’t talk. I wanted to tell her about the shawl, so I called her.
Unfortunately I forgot that I had changed my ringtone, so I didn’t expect my phone to make a loud croaking noise when it rang Hayden. I jumped, startled, and promptly spilled my hot chocolate all over the table. It started dripping onto my bag. I quickly yanked it out of the danger zone and picked up my phone, ignoring the other customers’ stares.
Right then Hayden picked up the phone. “Good day,” she said. “What’s up?”
“Not much. Ouch!” The chocolate had dripped on my leg, and true to its name, it was very hot.
“You seem a little distracted,” said my sister. “You did call me…but is this a good time?”
“Um,” I said, throwing my bag’s strap over my shoulder and going in search of paper towels. “It’s not a great time, but…”
“What’d you do this time?” asked Hayden, an I-knew-this-would-happen tone in her voice. “Did you flood the bathroom again?”
“That was three years ago,” I said, pulling open the door. “And no.”
“Well, that was pretty entertaining,” she said, and I could tell she was trying not to laugh.
“Thanks.” I yanked fifteen napkins out of the dispenser and started back to my table. “It wasn’t my fault the bathtub drain got plugged up! I just spilled a little hot chocolate.”
I placed the napkins on the table and let them absorb the mess. “Yes, a little. And I didn’t call you for a lecture.”
“Okay. So, while you’re cleaning up this mess,” said Hayden, “maybe you can tell me why you did call me.”
So you could distract me. “Um, no reason.”
“You never call me for no reason,” said Hayden. “Are you slacking off work again?”
“I do not ‘slack off’ work!” I protested. She laughed.
“Are you on lunch break?” she continued. I said I was. “So you thought, oh, I’ll just call my sister for some incessant chatter to distract me from the mundanity of day-to-day life?”
“Um, what?” I removed the last of the paper towels and dumped them in the nearest garbage can.
“You totally did!” she said triumphantly.
“I just wanted to talk,” I said.
“You’re going to see me at the end of today. What’s so desperate that it can’t wait about five hours?”
So I told her about Irene visiting the store, the Briars and Roses Shawl, and what I read on the news. If I were her, I would have told me I was insane, but she just paused, thought for a moment, and said: “That’s weird.”
“Yeah,” I said, relieved that she hadn’t totally scoffed at me.
“So are you infatuated yet?”
“Are you being possessed by this shawl?” Hayden said, in the kind of voice she used with small children. “Is it taking over your waking hours? Infiltrating your dreams? Are you – ”
“No!” I said. A clear image of the shawl swam into my head as if to spite me.
“Are you sure?” Hayden sounded concerned, which worried me even more.
“Yes, I’m sure. I mean, I’m not crocheting it now, am I?” I said, peeking into my bag where the pink fabric lay nestled next to my keys and wallet.
“But you’re thinking about it.”
“Of course I’m thinking about it; we’re talking about it, aren’t we? I can’t very well talk about cows without thinking about them, can I?” I couldn’t keep the worry out of my voice.
“You’re thinking about cows?”
I sighed loudly. Then I glanced at my watch and realized I had been here for almost an hour. “I have to go,” I said to Hayden. “Sorry to bother you.”
“You’re not bothering me,” she said. “Except the cow comment. I’m just concerned about you and this Rose Briar Shawl – ”
“Briars and Roses.”
“Whatever. So call me again if you need me, and you had better come home right after work, because I’ll do some research on this shawl thing.” Hayden’s voice was getting fainter. She had the bad habit of setting the phone down and doing something else while she talked.
“Thanks. See you then.” I hung up, grabbed my bag, and alternated between walking and jogging all the way back to Yarn Emporium.
At 9:32, I pushed open the door to my house to find Hayden sprawled on the couch waiting for me.
“So I found out some stuff,” she said by way of greeting, “and if you come up to my room I can show you.”
“Hello to you too,” I said. I took off my shoes and followed her up the stairs to her bedroom, which was right next to mine.
Hayden flopped on her bed next to the family computer, which she had borrowed. I sat on her beanbag chair and tried to ignore the mess on the floor. Hayden opened the computer and clicked around for a bit. “I looked up that article,” she said, “the one you were telling me about this morning. Is this it?”
I looked at the screen. “Yeah, that’s it.”
“Good, ’cause I Googled this lady – Irene Baker – and dug up some information on her. She seems to be a pretty private person, but I found a community center that she goes to.” Hayden opened a new tab and typed in a link, and the Seattle Community Center website popped up. “See, she’s on the Donor list, and she leads a yoga class on Wednesday.”
“Cool,” I said. “I keep meaning to check out classes there, but…”
“Well, I clicked around the website, and she seems to be pretty popular. Like, read this.” Hayden clicked the ‘SCC Rummage Sale’ button.
From what I could tell, it was a big annual rummage sale that happened at the beginning of summer. It had made newspapers and was a big hit, the article informed me. There was another section for ‘This Year’s Sale’, which had taken place about two months ago. A banner at the top of the page read, ‘Thank You to Our Volunteers.’ I was about to push the computer back to Hayden when a name caught my eye: Irene Baker!
“Awesome,” I said. “So we know she volunteers at this rummage thing.”
“Yes. What I was thinking is we could go and ask around at the center to see if anyone knew her.” I was already shaking my head. “Come on, do you have any better ideas?” said Hayden, looking exasperated. She slammed the computer shut and leaned against the wall.
“I don’t know. I don’t think we’re going to find anything.” This whole procedure sounded so tiring, and I wanted nothing more than to curl up in bed and crochet…oh no! I sat bolt upright, the beanbag shifting beneath me, as I realized the only thing I wanted to do was work on the shawl.
“What?” Hayden was looking at me oddly.
“Just kidding. I think you’re right. We should go to SCC,” I said. “Tomorrow’s my day off, should we go then?”
Hayden eyed me suspiciously. “Okay,” she said, “tomorrow works for me.”
“Awesome. Now, I’m going to bed,” I said, standing up and tripping over a dumbbell that had been left on the floor. I stepped on a plastic bag and slid into a pile of magazines, which I tripped over, and crashed into the wall. “Your room is a disaster, you know that?”
“Not as bad as yours,” she said, looking smug. I rolled my eyes.
I walked next door into my room and instantly felt calmer. I had painted the walls a light turquoise, and the wall across from the door had an ocean mural on it. My artistically talented friend Alaska had painted it last summer when we were looking for something to do. My bed was unmade, and there was a mess on the floor – mostly yarn – but it still calmed me. I tossed my bag onto my bed and curled up next to my giant throw pillow.
It took approximately twenty seconds for me to realize that there was no way I could stop thinking about that shawl.
So I got up, put my pajamas on, and did my normal evening routine. I did thirty jumping jacks in an attempt to tire myself out. Afraid that I was rattling the ceiling fan downstairs, I retired to my bed, where I meditated for ten minutes and tried to stop thinking about that cursed shawl.
Hayden’s muffled voice made its way through my wall. “Could you pipe down in there? I’m trying to sleep.”
“Sorry,” I yelled back. My limbs itched to move and it pained me to sit still, kind of like after a long day of sitting in the same spot and trying not to fidget. I squeezed my pillow a few times, but when that failed to relieve my anxiety I did the only thing that would.
I opened the bag and pulled out the Briars and Roses Shawl. I knew Hayden would call me an idiot, but I put the hook back in the loop and crocheted the rest of the row. It couldn’t be so harmful, could it? If the problem was being obsessed with the shawl and not being able to think of anything else, the obvious solution had to be finishing the shawl. I was so pleased with my answer that it took me a minute to realize the obvious flaw in my plan: this pattern was nearly impossible.
I had crocheted many difficult things in my life, the hardest being a multicolored entrelac pillow that had taken me about three months to finish. But this beat them all. The pattern was well written, but the stitches were difficult – there were lots of bullion stitches, which I had never mastered, and the thread was thin and it used a tiny hook. I had never been good at thread crochet.
I wondered where Irene had gotten this shawl. I doubted she had designed it herself, because of the problems she was having with it. Then that left the question of when she had gotten it. In that time, she had only crocheted nine rows, and it seemed like she had been working on it a lot, from her journal entry. “Great,” I whispered to the room. It was obvious I couldn’t just power through and rapidly crochet this thing. Well, I would just take it one row at a time.
My back stiffened and my fingers cramped, but I crocheted for three hours straight. Then I fell asleep with the shawl next to me until my alarm sounded the next morning.
When the alarm sounded, I rolled over and froze. There were bloodstains on the pillow. Did I have a nosebleed in the night? I wondered. Then a stinging pain in my left hand alerted me to the real source of blood. The hook was so small that it was actually sharp, and my long stint crocheting had caused the skin to rip off my pointer finger and leave a bloody welt. I cringed.
I snuck to the bathroom and washed out the wound. It stung like twenty-three hornet stings, which unfortunately I had experienced – from a particularly memorable game of hide-and-seek at a family reunion. I put a Band-Aid on it and hoped it wouldn’t get infected. How would I explain that one to the doctor? He would tell me to stop crocheting, and that wasn’t an option.
Well, that’s it for today – I’d love to hear your thoughts on the story! 😀
Thanks again for all your encouragement!