AtoZChallenge, April 12, 2018, Knit, Purl, Miss, Kiss
26 posts. 26 days. And 26 letters of the alphabet, one post beginning with each letter, in April.
Follow me as we visit the not-quite-normal retirement village of Twilight, Arizona, where reality clashes with the unexplained.
Knit, Purl, Miss, Kiss
Kathryn Palmer moved aside her yarn to allow a fellow member of the Twilight Knitting Club to sit next to her.
“I don’t know if I’ll have this sweater done in time,” she grumbled, the pattern flying under her fingers. Garter stitch on the sides, purl across then turn and start increasing for the sleeves. “I took too long to start.”
Janice Delaney touched the miniature sweater. “It looks like a varsity sweater.”
Kathryn had based it off forty-year-old memory. Was she foolish to try to recapture the magic of the era? Why did she give this so much importance?
“I have no patience for knitting.” She glanced at the clock on the meeting room wall. “Thankfully, it’s a small piece, and I’ve done it before.”
Janice laughed and unwound a length of yarn from the skein. “I can’t imagine you without patience. World renowned dollmaker Kathryn Steward Palmer. It must take hours to sew your dolls and paint their faces, let alone make the hair and costumes.”
“I’ll tell you a secret, Jan. I didn’t mind it as much in the beginning.” Widowed at thirty with two little girls, she’d scrambled to find any source of extra income. Who knew selling her creations at craft fairs would explode into a career?
“Didn’t we all have more energy in the beginning?” Janice unspooled another length of yarn for her friend. “I think it’s great that you’re donating one of your dolls to charity.”
Kathryn eyed the piece in her hands, mentally tabulating how long until she could cast off and consider it done. “If some fabric scraps, yarn hair, and my frustrated knitting help raise money for Hospice, I’m glad to contribute.”
“Palmer dolls are more than scraps of fabric, and you know it.”
Yes, she did, though her success continued to surprise her. She’d traveled around the globe to give lessons, attend quilt and doll shows, consult on the several fabric collections she’d designed, and promote the eight doll-making books she’d written. Five years earlier, after a health scare, she’d throttled down and retired to Twilight, Arizona.
Is that why I’m so fussy about this last doll? Because it might be my last?
She glanced at the doll in question—a male who waited patiently for the sweater in her hands, his features too familiar. What had she been thinking of, making him look like Richard? They’d parted ways in college. She’d not seen him for forty-two years.
This is what turning sixty-two and collecting Social Security will do. You start looking at the past through rose-colored glasses.
“Are you going to the charity ball to see it auctioned off?” her friend asked.
“I don’t know.” Kathryn shook her head. “It’s masquerade, isn’t it?”
Janice picked up the doll. “It would be a shame not to know who is the highest bidder.”
“I’ve sold dolls before.” She’d lived through the celebrity craze twenty-five years earlier, when anyone who was anyone wanted a Palmer doll. Sales had skyrocketed, and she’d licensed the rights to several of her more popular models, opening the way for mass production.
“But this is special. I can tell.”
Kathryn took the doll from her. “Yes, this is special.”
* * *
The next night, dressed as a Victorian lady, a feathered mask in place, Kathryn waited for the doll’s turn at auction. The ball committee had given it the coveted last item position due to her reputation.
Her nerves jumped as other items came up for bid and disappeared into the winner’s hands. More than once, she considered yanking the doll and substituting another.
It isn’t as special as I think it is. I can always make another Richard. But, it won’t be the same.
She’d lost her detachment. She’d always enjoyed the creative process, but this doll went beyond that. Was it an attempt to regain her lost youth? Touch the magic of her first and only love? Or something else?
Janice hurried toward her and leaned in to whisper, “They can’t find your doll.”
“What?” Kathryn stared at her. “I gave it to Esther. She’s in charge of all the auction items.”
Janice shook her head. “She put it on the table with everything else, says she didn’t take her eyes off any of them, but now it’s gone.”
Kathryn stood. “I don’t know what I can do other than run home and grab something else.” She didn’t want to disappoint the committee or Hospice.
“Go talk to her.”
Kathryn wove her way through chairs and the standing-room-only crowd to the front of the hall. She’d left the doll in one of the side rooms.
The words died. A man stood where she’d left the doll, wearing a varsity sweater identical to the one she’d knitted. Identical to the one Richard had worn when he’d asked her on their first date.
How could this be? No one knew in advance what clothing she’d planned for the doll.
Kathryn didn’t believe in coincidences.
Her voice wobbled. “You can’t be the doll I made.”
His left eyebrow rose, a gesture she remembered from when they dated.
She shook her head. “Why? How?”
Richard held out his hand in invitation. “I had to wait for you ask me back into your life.”
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Tomorrow’s #AtoZChallenge, April 13, 2018, Llama Drama
Llama drama at a Twilight Nursing Home has unexpected consequences.
Until then, blessings,
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