Knitting word count: 627
Written by Kerry E.B. Black
My sister Heather reached into her purse and withdrew knitting needles and two skeins of glistening yarn, one blue like her eyes and the other her favorite shade of purple. I glanced over, then returned to my introspection and studied the unchanged electronic message board.
She cleared her throat. “I thought I’d teach you something new. Look.”
I turned from the message board to comply. “I’ve never knitted.”
“It’s easy and relaxing. I thought it’d be perfect.”
“Perfect would be not needing to be here at all,” I groused.
She averted her eyes, studying the tile.
“Sorry, Heather. I’m just upset.”
A crooked grin and wink told me she forgave my bad humor.
She started the scarf, needles clicking like impatient fingernails on a desktop. A soft scarf formed from her efforts. She chatted, using terms like purl, knit, and dropped stitches. I listened, but only part of my attention diverted. The board held my main attention. It displayed my daughter’s name and the status of her operation. My heart thudded sluggish blood through my sleep-deprived body, and tears danced just outside of my periphery, waiting to seize control.
“Now you try,” she said.
I took the emerging outerwear and the tools for its creation and set to work. I wrapped yarn around the knitting needles while Heather watched and offered suggestions. My hands complied as I put into practice her lessons, but by the third row, my stitches clung together with a fury. My anxiety produced such tight knit that the needles stuck.
Heather set a hand on mine. “Let me help.” She undid my stitching and with nimble fingers, added in minutes the bits that took me an hour. She handed it back with a smile.
“Maybe you should keep going. Look how much you progressed,” I said.
“Really, this is relaxing.” She spoke with a high-pitch and speed that told of her discomfort and worry.
I tried again, forcing shaking, arthritic fingers into compliance.
The notification board remained stuck on “In Surgery.”
Heather corrected again when my needles became entangled. We continued for another hour until I handed the frustrating mess to her. “I’m going to stretch my legs.”
I moved around the waiting room, observing the other anxious people waiting for loved ones under the knife. All wore concern like masks.
I asked of the receptionist, “Please, is there any news of my daughter? The board hasn’t moved.”
She pursed her lips. “What’s your daughter’s name?”
“Sarah. She’s 5. I know I should be patient,” tears ambushed me. I ignored their silent onslaught. “but I’m just so worried about her.”
The receptionist’s expression changed from obvious frustration to pity, as though my tears swept away her cynicism. She picked up a phone and made quiet inquiries. “She’s about to be moved to recovery.”
My knees gave way, and I slumped into a seat. “She’s okay,” I whispered with relief. “Thank you.” Her face blurred as weeping obscured my vision.
“You can go back to see her as soon as she wakes,” she said.
Heather put a hand on my shoulder. “That’s great. She’s almost done.”
“I just want to see her.”
“Probably about another half hour,” the receptionist said.
I sighed. Even another few minutes seemed like an eternity.
Heather wrapped me in a hug, trapping a knitting needle in our perfumed embrace. We stepped apart, and she grabbed the metal shaft.
“Want to try knitting again?” She asked.
I watched the notification change beside my girl’s name. In recovery. My heart leapt, and an edgy energy overtook me. “I’ll try.”
The attempt, though valiant, proved unsuccessful. I bit my lip, finding the threads again interlocked.
Heather rested her head against my shoulder. “Maybe you should try knitting another time.”
I never did.