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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: In and Out (04/30/09)

TITLE: Needle Points
By Sonya Leigh
05/06/09


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The side door creaks and I hear soft footsteps in my kitchen.


“Is that you, Little Missy?” I call out from the living room where I’m sitting in my worn, blue chair.


“Yes, Auntie Jean, it’s me. Are you busy?” Erica walks through the swinging door from kitchen to living room. She is the apple of my eye, my only niece, a teenager among nine nephews below the age of ten.


“Never too busy for you. Come on in, darling,” I answer. “I’m just finishing up this embroidery for a wedding gift. It’s a needlework replica of the bride’s bouquet.” My hands continue to move deftly across the embroidery hoop, pushing and pulling the needle through the fabric. The stitches are so tight, it feels as if I’m weaving the cloth itself.


Erica kisses me, then finds a floor cushion and sits cross-legged at my feet.


“Did you finish your studying?” I ask.


“Yes. I have a geography quiz tomorrow.” Erica draws her knees up and rests her head upon them, as if suddenly weary.


“Somethin’ on your mind, sweetheart?”


“I’m almost old enough to get my license, but I don’t think I want to.”


“Why ever not?”


“Accidents. Flat tires. I’m not sure if I can handle all that.” Erica looks out the picture window.


“Well, there is a learning process, honey.”


“I know, auntie.”


“Somethin’ else on your mind, then?” I ask.


“No.” Erica forms entwined fingers to form a church with a double index finger steeple then opens her hands to the wiggling people inside. “Only Darla’s not talking to me. Mom keeps telling me I don’t study enough. I’m sick of hearing how I should improve myself. Josh likes Beth now and won’t even say hi to me at youth group. Mr. Radford says I need to memorize the vocabulary in Biology if I want a better grade, but I’m much better at Geography. I’m glad I didn’t kiss Josh.”


I file away all her information, nodding and periodically glancing over the top of my glasses at her. I don’t want to miss a word she says. My hands do not stop moving the needle, cutting across the top and bottom of the cloth, splashing color in a steady, familiar rhythm. Here lie the threads of my life where troubles have been subverted and sewn shut, where love has mended a broken heart, where God’s colorful wisdom has been woven in and out of these canvases upon my lap.


Each stitch brings my tapestry a little closer to its oeuvre.


Erica has watched me do needlepoint all her life. Together we have worked on projects with brilliant threads that transform themselves into petals, and then into flowers that claim their permanent place on the canvas. Each flower is a rare beauty and when clustered with others makes an extraordinary bouquet.


“How come everything goes wrong all the time?” she continues, “I don’t think the girl I invited to camp really wants to come—I see her friends looking and laughing at me. It’s hard to stand up for Jesus at school, Aunt Jean. I don’t like being laughed at, but I really do love Jesus. So, sometimes I feel like a hypocrite because I don’t speak up. I’m so lame.”


“There!” I declare. “It’s finished!” I loosen the screws of the hoop and remove the tapestry. After smoothing it out, I invert the cloth and tighten it back into the hoop. Erica’s eyes move over to the blank spot on the wall, reserved for the debut of each creation. “You have to admire it for a while before giving it away,” I say, reciting the familiar phrase which has become part of the display ceremony.


“Um, aunt Jean? You hung it up backwards.”


“I know. I like looking at it from this view,” I say.


“But…the other side is so beautiful. Why hide it?”


“I can’t see all the work that went into it from that side. So I have decided to do this from now on.”


“That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. The whole point is to look at it from the finished side where you can’t see all the mess.”


That’s a good point, Erica. I guess it’s just like how God sees us in Christ—finished, without knots and perfect,” I say.


“Yeah—hey—you tricked me!” she says, putting hands on her hips.


“That’s right, Little Missy.”


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This article has been read 455 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sara Harricharan 05/07/09
Love the lesson here and Erica's nickname of "little missy" It fits her sooo well and I love her dialog it is true and authentic! Excellent story you have here!
Eliza Evans 05/09/09
Clever title. :)
I want an Auntie Jean!
Had to chuckle at-
“Somethin’ else on your mind?"

"No. ...Just these 10 things..." :)

Love the voices here...both distinct and on pitch.

Beautiful, memorable message.

Charla Diehl 05/09/09
I never turn my needlework over to admire the messy side-but I will think of it in a new way since reading your story. Everyone should have an Auntie Jean. Thumbs up on this one.
Chely Roach05/11/09
Awww, this is a sweet little gem of a story...
I loved the MC, and her tender wisdom to her niece. I could just see her looking over her granny style glasses and hoop at her "little missy".
Very well done!
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/11/09
Excellently written story with a wonderful analogy for a message.
Kristen Hester05/11/09
Such a sweet story. I'm so glad Ericka has such a wonderful aunt. Good writing. Great pace and flow. Good descriptions of Ericka as she sat on the floor. I could picture her.
Mona Purvis05/11/09
Loved being drawn into this story and "visiting" with the characters. I want a wise aunt like her.
Mona
Betty Castleberry05/12/09
You created good depth of character in not many words.

This is a sweet story and a good read. Kudos!
Bryan Ridenour05/12/09
Nice writing and a great message. Well done.
Carole Robishaw 05/12/09
Hmm, yes, all the knots, and threads in what appears to be a messy jumble, going every which way, unable to tell what the pattern is. Much like my life.
Yvonne Blake 05/12/09
Very good characterization and message. Thanks!
Joshua Janoski05/12/09
I felt like this story built up to an excellent ending. At first, I wasn't sure where the story was headed, but as it progressed, I started to see the tie in with the needlepoint and with the girl and her aunt. I love the lesson that Auntie Jean teaches at the end. A great way to end this cute story. :)
Shelley Ledfors 05/12/09
Very sweet. I love the characters and their interaction. Auntie Jean is a treasure! Great lesson, here, too. Very nice!
Patricia Herchenroether05/13/09
Very nice story and a good lesson too. I don't want an aunt like that-I want to BE an aunt like that! Blessings.
Connie Dixon05/13/09
This is sweet. Love the message and the MC. Love you you weaved life into your embroidery work. Great take on the topic.