1. I am upstairs making shoes for Quinn’s “inside school shoes.” There are cut-out paper outlines of my family’s feet stacked on the desk, all labeled with initials and dates. I save them all because I think it will be interesting to look back one of these days and see how our feet have changed. The outlines of Quinn’s feet on the desk before me, just drawn today, look so big. I look at the stack where there are other versions of Quinn’s feet, but I turn away from it because in that stack are also the outlines of Kristi’s feet that she sent me last fall with her writing on them. I don’t want to think about her feet, but that just makes me think about them more. Even though I’m not looking at the outline, I can see it in my mind’s eye, can see the way her toes are not pointing straight ahead but in a diagonal. My thoughts skitter to Majka’s feet with her toes just starting to point off to the side and then back to Quinn’s feet in front of me. I feel renewed in my desire to make shoes for her in order to keep her feet from the same fate, from eventually ending up like Kristi’s. As soon as I think it, though, I start to feel a little sick to my stomach. How can I not want her to end up like Kristi, any little part of her?
2. Names come into my mind of people I would prefer to have died rather than Kristi. So many names. I tell myself that a nice person wouldn’t think things like that. I evaluate another name and add it to the list.
3. I see Quinn’s purple and pink helmet on the table. I remind myself that I should be better about making her put it on when she’s on her scooter. She’s so fast on it now. Then I think that maybe we shouldn’t let her ride the scooter anymore because helmets don’t always work. I hate the purple and pink helmet.
4. I think about the week coming up, what I need to do to get ready for it. After a while, I realize I haven’t thought of Kristi at all. I feel ashamed.
5. I open the girls’ wardrobe and see the sweaters Kristi knit for them years ago. We couldn’t bring ourselves to give them away with the other clothes the girls have outgrown. I feel relieved to have them there. I see the dresses she knit for the girls last spring. I look at all the stitches, knowing that every bit of yarn passed through her hands. It’s getting cold now. I hope the girls will still fit them next year because these are it.
6. I am at my sewing machine. It was a birthday gift to me four years ago. It was Kristi’s idea. She orchestrated it and got other people to chip in on it. I always think about her when I sew. I remember being at her house a couple of years ago, sewing something on her sewing machine. The sewing machine started acting up. The stitches weren’t coming out right. I went upstairs to get her and ask her to fix it. She came down to the basement and tried, but it still wasn’t working right. She said, “When it acts up like this, I just get up and leave it alone for a few hours. When I come back, it’s working again. I don’t know why, but it does.”
I’m remembering how I laughed as she shrugged. I’m not thinking about what I’m doing. The needle clamp screw on the side of the needle slams down on the nail of my thumb. I jerk my hand back, away from the pain.
I wonder if she felt anything when it happened.
My thumb is throbbing beneath the nail. I decide to get up and leave the sewing machine alone for a couple of hours.