Wrapping her arms around herself and swaying to the music, Alice Brighton remembered her husband singing romantic ballads, rivaling howling dogs, as they danced around their miniscule New York apartment. He would call her his Judy Garland. Her dark hair and brown eyes might have looked something like the movie star’s, but Joe exaggerated the resemblance.
The song ended, and Frank Sinatra’s crooning of “Full Moon, Empty Arms” blared from her new Crosley radio. A gun clicked, fired. She trembled. Joe was gone. Her arms were empty. After a long swipe with a tissue, she tied a blue chiffon scarf around her hair. Enough daydreaming about the life the Germans stole from her. She needed to get to work.
In three days, she’d have the grand opening for her fabric shop, Alice’s Notions. Dozens of boxes waited to be unpacked, threads and fabric had to be sorted, and she still needed to set up the quilting frame near the front.
Alice had designated a corner of the store for quilting and set up shelves with lap hoops, materials, fat big-eyed needles, and threads. From the time she’d been a little girl playing underneath the tent-like quilting frame until she could help tie or stitch, she had quilt block patterns swirling at the edge of her consciousness.
One thing she loved about the big city was the fabric and quilting shops in every neighborhood. She’d helped many women in New York City learn to piece together victory quilts for the war effort. Opening a fabric store here would help her contribute to the economy of Burning Bush.
Alice let out a sigh. This wasn’t the life she had wanted, but she would make the best of it. She perused the room determining what still needed to be done. Shelving would go against the back wall, where she could lay out the new rose-patterned cotton and the everyday linens.
The needles and scissors though could be a problem. How to display them without resorting to an expensive glass case, yet keep them away from curious children? Perhaps someone in town could help her build one. Mr. Toliver was a good carpenter. At church last Sunday, Mrs. Toliver said to call on them if she needed help. So many old friends offered help. Alice even arranged a sewing circle at the shop next Friday.
Blinking back a tear, she remembered her Mamie’s quilting bees where women would gather for companionship. Mamie helped her put together patches for a log cabin quilt for her marriage bed, but when Joe got the job in New York City as an interpreter, they rushed to get married so she could go with him. A few months later, the war started and Joe enlisted and shipped out. The quilt remained in Alice’s hope chest, unfinished like their lives together.
“Well Joe, do you think I can make the place ready in time for opening day?” Alice sniffed. He wouldn’t answer. He was buried in Belgium with so many other brave men who died during the Battle of the Bulge. Somehow that didn’t matter. She’d talked to him about everything since they were children, and it didn’t stop after the telegram from the U.S. War Department.
Talking out her problems with her dead husband helped her decide to leave the city where they started their lives together. She had thrived on big city life, every day being an adventure, every city block a new area to explore, and with her job at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, she did her part contributing to the home front.
After Joe died, it wasn’t the same. She wasn’t the same. The final stitch in the quilt came when soldiers were shipped home and they laid her off to provide jobs for the men. The money she’d saved went to open a fabric shop where she could pursue her love of quilting. She ached to come home to Burning Bush, a place where life was predictable and safe.
Desert Breeze Publishing http://www.desertbreezepublishing.com/alices-notions-epub/