As I was falling asleep last night, I realized I had forgotten to post the promised segment of Unraveled! My apologies. I took a knitting class for the first time yesterday, and that threw off my schedule enough that I forgot. (You will hear more about the knitting on the blog in the future!)
I’m probably going to be remodeling my blog theme in the near future, so if you see things moving around don’t panic. As always, I welcome your feedback. I will also be joining a link-up on Wednesdays, if all goes well, so stay tuned for that. There are exciting things coming up, including more writing-related posts.
Anyway, I’m excited to present you with today’s installment!
Unraveled, Part 6
The next day dawned bright and early, and I drove, yawning, to the rec center. The Briars and Roses Shawl was nestled next to me, and every so often I reached down to touch it, just to make sure it was still there. I pulled into a parking spot next to a smart car, bouncing off the parking curb.
“We’re here,” I announced, fully aware that rather than talking to myself (which I did on a regular basis), I was talking to the shawl. “Ready to meet your previous owner?”
The shawl did not reply.
I scooped it up and made for the air-conditioned hall, which was filled but not packed with people. Catherine’s short, wavy red hair was visible from across the hall, and she looked up and waved when I entered. I waved back and wove my way through the throng of people, plunking down next to her on the couch, which was firm and not comfortable at all.
We exchanged meaningless greetings, then I bought two cups of iced tea so we would have an excuse to lounge around. I set mine on the floor and continued the next row of the shawl, Catherine watching me closely.
“That looks hard,” she said with a laugh. I smiled but kept crocheting. “You’re good at it, though. How long have you been crocheting?”
“About seven years,” I said, which did sound quite impressive. The hook pricked my finger – why was it so sharp? – and I winced.
“So did you teach yourself or what?”
“My aunt taught me when I was eleven,” I said, watching a bead of blood well up on my fingertip. “I was at a family reunion and got really bored, so I went to hang out with the grown-ups, and Aunt Lily took pity on me. I barely put down the hook for the next week.”
“I want to learn sometime,” said Catherine, and I realized it was sort of a request, or at least an opportunity. If I’d been my normal self, I would have offered to teach her. But I was caught up in the wrap, and as I wiped my finger on my jeans I gave a vague smile and went back to the yarn.
Just then Catherine nudged me and pointed to a lady who was walking around, craning her neck as if to look for someone. “Do you think that’s her?” she asked.
I studied the woman. She had bright fuchsia hair and a tan like she’d just come back from a week at the beach. She was also wearing enormous wire-rimmed glasses that looked like they belonged to Harry Potter. Her blue floor-length dress swished as she walked, and she carried a tote bag that said “I’d Rather Be Kayaking.” All together, she was nothing like I had expected, and judging from Catherine’s slack-jawed look, she felt the same way.
The lady turned and saw the wrap sitting next to me. Her face brightened and she made a beeline for our couch. I found myself sitting up straighter, as if she was my teacher. “Could you be Emma Perez?” she asked.
“Yeah,” I said, standing up. “Thanks so much for meeting me here.” We shook hands; it felt like she had broken mine. “This is my friend Catherine.” I glanced over at her.
“I hope you don’t mind I tagged along,” said Catherine, smiling sweetly.
Rory White shook her head. “Oh, of course not! I was thrilled to get your email, Emma. Truth is, I’ve been wanting to talk to someone about this wrap.”
“Do you want some tea, Mrs. White?” I said, gesturing to my untouched cup. She laughed.
“Please call me Rory. Mrs. White makes me sound too old. To tell you the truth, I’ve always hated my full name: Aurora. Too pretentious.” She made a face, then plucked the cup from my hand.
Rory pulled over a chair and sat down, facing us. “Do you mind if I take a look at this?” she asked, and I handed her the wrap. She gently fingered it, admiring the lace, like she was greeting an old friend. “I hoped I would never see this again.”
“Why not?” I asked, trying to sound casual but mentally exclaiming, Give us some answers!
“Well,” said Rory, “I got this yarn at my fiftieth birthday. For a gift. It’s quite a funny story, actually, but…” She looked up and shook her head, as if recalling something.
“I’d love to hear it,” said Catherine, and I shot her a look. We don’t have time for this. But Rory looked absolutely delighted.
“Oh, well, if you’re sure…” While she talked, she folded up the Briars and Roses Shawl with crisp, neat creases. “I wasn’t too concerned about a party, to tell you the truth. If I had my way, I wouldn’t have invited anyone – just too much hassle, and too much money! But my sister insisted. She’s always been into celebrations, but I haven’t. So we quickly slapped together a guest list. I picked a couple friends, and she invited everyone – you know, the obligatory extended family members.
“At my birthday dinner, a strange woman showed up at the door and demanded to be let in. I didn’t know who she was, but figured maybe she was one of my extended family members…you know, some second cousin once removed that I’d forgotten. I didn’t want to offend her. She was insulted she hadn’t been invited, and, well, what could I do?” Rory squeezed the shawl between her hands. “So, yes, I invited her in.”
“Who was she?” asked Catherine, who was literally on the edge of her seat.
“That’s the thing,” said Rory, “we don’t know. I asked my friends later, and they had never seen her before. We thought maybe she was just some random person from off the street, who had decided to crash a party. Or maybe she was mad. I don’t know.”
“So where does the shawl come into this?” I asked, genuinely curious now.
“It was a gift. It wasn’t until later that we realized, the stranger must have left it.”
“Huh,” said Catherine. She took another sip of the iced tea. “Do you know why?”
I had a sinking feeling that I did know why, but it was a preposterous thought: she had wanted to curse Rory.
“You know, I don’t,” said Rory. “But here’s the thing: this wrap has been really bothering me.” I perked up.
“Me too,” I said, and she smiled.
“Of course it is, dear. You posted a notice begging for help!” Rory held up the wrap for proof.
“No, not because of that.” I hesitated, and looked to Catherine for support. She nodded encouragingly. “It’s because, um, this wrap is, like, taking over my life.”
Her eyes lit up. “I know just what you mean.”
That was not the answer I had been expecting, but this simplified things. “Did you experience it too, then?”
“Well, I was never much of a crocheter,” she said, “but I watched some YouTube videos and managed to get about a row done, and – ”
I interrupted. “Did your hands go numb?”
“Pardon?” She looked confused. “My hands did tingle a bit, when I first started…is that what you meant?”
“Yes!” A piece of the puzzle seemed to clunk together in my head. “That’s it, then. This wrap is cursed!” I wished I hadn’t said that so loudly; the room quieted and heads turned toward me. I slouched and looked at my knees.
Rory laughed, and my heart sank – did she not believe me after all? “That’s an interesting theory, Emma.” Why had I made the mistake of telling her? “I have to say, it doesn’t seem out of the question.”
Something warm wrapped around my hand; Catherine was holding it up for Rory to see. I tried to pull away, but she held on. “Check out the Band-Aids,” she said, with an apologetic glance at me. “That’s what happened to her from crocheting. She’s been crocheting for seven years, and how many rows did you get done? Five?”
I nodded, curling my fingers under to hide them.
“In two weeks,” Catherine finished. “I don’t think this is going anywhere good. Rory, this is how my grandmother died – because she was so distracted with this shawl thing.”
“Briars and Roses Shawl,” I offered.
“Yeah. So, the question is, can you help us?” Catherine let my hand drop onto the gray sofa, and I clasped my hands together.
Rory paused for a long moment; I held my breath. “I don’t know what I can do,” she said, “but I’ll do my best. After all, the shawl did a number on me too. Do you wonder why I donated it? I’ve been going to yoga every day to try and forget about it. I’ve hung on for a year, but then again I only crocheted one row.”
I sighed in relief. “Thank you so much,” I said, relaxing back against the still-uncomfortable couch. “Now what do you think we should do?”
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Hope you’re having a fantastic day. ❤