Excerpt: The Christmas Quilts

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14316047_1762678680616356_1045376697_oCody paid the check, feeling better about the decision to make the quilts himself with each passing moment. The feeling dropped out of his head the moment he entered the Aiken Museum and begin to look at the quilts on display. I must have been out of my mind. I will pay whatever those people want to make these bleeping quilts! I can’t do this.

“Hello there, Cody Richardson,” a soft voice said behind him.

He turned to see Bisa standing there looking like she just stepped out of a haute couture magazine ad for diversity in the workplace.
“Oh hey, look at all of these quilts. This is 
overwhelming,” he said.
“Each one was made one 9 inch square at a time, or one scrap, one block, and one stitch. You build upon each block, creating the foundation for the story in fabric, then once it is complete, you close the book by weaving intricate threading to hold the pieces together,” she said, giving him that warm smile again.
“I have never heard quilting described so beautifully before,” Lily Rose said.
Remembering his grandmother was standing there, Cody turned, almost bumping into her. “Bisa Washington, this is my grandmother, Lily Rose Richardson. She is the quilter in the family. It is her quilts you will be working on,” he said raising his eyebrows when he said the word ‘you’.
Bisa picked up on it.
“I look forward to working with Cody to bring your work to life for your family,” she said.
“Bisa? That is an unusual name. What does it mean?” Lily Rose asked.
“It means one that is loved in Swahili,” she said.
“Do you have a quilt on display as well, Bisa?” Lily Rose wanted to know.
“My quilting guild has these two on display and the one in the corner I personally quilted,” she said, pointing to the quilt in the corner. Both Cody and Lily Rose gasped.
The quilt was a work of art.
Children of every race played in a field of high grass laden with flowers as the rays of the sun shone down on them. The details of the children’s faces were patch worked pieces of fabrics creating shadings of lights and darks like skin tones. The flowers were vibrant, the children happy and that stupid warm feeling came back to Cody’s toes. Moreover, the quilt moved him.
“Absolutely stunning,” he said, looking at Bisa.
“You like it?”
“I love it. I have never seen anything like it in my life. You are an amazing fabric artist,” he said.
Lily Rose, who had remained quiet, held a handkerchief to her running nose as tears filled her eyes. The emotions of the children having fun took her back to the days of her young ones running through the fields at the lake, having fun and enjoying life. A time of innocence and pure joy.
“I call it a Time of Innocence,” she said making Lily Rose burst into tears.
“Oh, my dear lady, please don’t cry. Here, let me help you be seated,” Bisa said, helping the gentlewoman to a chair.
“I don’t mean to be silly, but that is exactly what I thought when I saw your quilt. It reminded me of my children playing at the lake, having fun without a care in the world.”
“We forget those times as well, which is why I wanted to capture it on this quilt. A gentle reminder of how beautiful life can be when we let go of the silliness and enjoy those special moments,” Bisa said.
Lily Rose grabbed Bisa’s hands, squeezing them between her own. “Thank you. I know that a quilter who does that kind of work doesn’t have time to work on my old scrap quilts but it means the world to me to present those memories to my family. The Richardsons will forever be in your debt,” she told Bisa.
“No debt required; you are paying for my time, Mrs. Richardson. Your grandson over there is quite the persuader,” Bisa said, flashing Cody a smile and wink, which did not reach his toes, but stopped mid-way in his body.
“Goodness gracious,” he said, turning his back them. “Excuse me for a moment.”
Cody made a beeline out to the back door to get a grip on himself. Between her fricking quilt, that smile, and the way she handled his grandmother, he was sitting all up in his feelings.
“What are you doing?”
He thought he’d asked the question out loud to himself, but it was Bisa’s voice over his shoulder. She was standing so close that if he leaned back, she could accuse him of a personal violation.
“I needed a moment,” he said.
“Your Nana is a sweetheart,” she said, almost whispering in her ear.
He turned suddenly, facing Bisa. He stood so close the buttons on his shirt could touch her belly button. Her brown eyes searched his blue ones, trying to understand what was occurring between them.
“I’m out of my element here, Bisa,” he said.
“I know, but if you trust me, I will take care of you,” she said softly.
His eyes dropped to her lips. “I believe in reciprocating,” he told her, touching the fabric on her skirt.
“I just bet you do, but first things first,” she said stepping back. “You need to buy a good sewing machine for class on Monday. We start at six sharp. Please don’t be late. The fee covers fabric and all materials.”
“Okay,” he told her, giving her a quick grin.
“Can I ask one favor, Cody?”
“Don’t wear that cologne. It is like a mating call or something. No one in the class will be able to get anything done,” she added, winking at him again.
“If that’s the case, I’m going to bathe in it before I get there,” he said, winking back at her.
“Watch yourself, Cody. You don’t know what you are getting yourself into,” Bisa said, turning to walk away.
“I can handle anything you dish out, lady,” he called after her. Bisa’s next words were halted by the arrival of Lily Rose, who thanked her again, giving a big hug.
Lily Rose joined her grandson, “I like her. She is going to be good for you.”
“What do you mean, Nana? She is helping me with your quilting,” Cody said.
“A woman like that, Cody, will either bring out the better man in you or expose each and every one of your shortcomings,” Lily Rose said. “It will be one or the other. There is no middle ground with her.”
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