Emily cried the day he gave her the quilt.
“Oh Thomas! It’s so lovely! What a thoughtful wedding gift.”
“I knew you’d love it. It’s a wedding ring design, right?”
“Actually, it’s a double wedding ring design. This design was made popular during the depression in the 1930’s. They were made especially for the wedding couple.” She turned to him, her eyes shining.
“I got it at that little store, Eccentricities.”
She wrinkled her nose. “I don’t like that store. There’s something off about it.”
“Do you want me to take it back?”
“Oh of course not! It’s beautiful and the stitching is fantastic! I love it. And I love you.”
When Thomas got home from work the next night he noticed that Emily had washed the quilt and put it on their bed.
“We’re going to use it?” he asked.
“Of course.” She answered. “It’s in great shape. And I’d hate to just display it. It was made to be used by a newly married couple. I want to honor its purpose.”
And that was when things changed. Emily was waking every morning in a foul mood, complaining of bad dreams and becoming increasingly withdrawn. She had two moods; tearful and sullen.
Emily knew she was being unfair to Thomas. Thomas was a great guy and she had no reason to doubt him. But every night she dreamt of him betraying her. No, it wasn’t him really. And she wasn’t her. She was another woman in the dream and the man came to her and told her he was marrying someone else. And in the dream she was heartbroken. But she was also angry. So angry that she wanted to hurt the man and the other woman. Wanted to kill them. Or herself.
Not sleeping well was exhausting her and the dreams stayed with her. She vacillated between anguish and fury. She was either crying and begging Thomas not to leave her or she was furious with him.
Thomas confronted her the next day.
“What the hell is going on Emily?”
“I don’t know what you mean.” She said.
“Emily, we’ve been together for two years and you have never acted like this before. You’re always happy and outgoing. I don’t know who this woman is, but she’s not my Emily.”
Emily broke down in tears. She sobbed in Thomas’ arms. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me either. I just have these dreams and I’m so scared that you’ll leave me for someone else and I’m so mad at you. I don’t understand.”
“Emily” Thomas held her at arms length and looked into her eyes. “I will never leave you. Not ever. Not for anyone.” He wrapped his arms back around her and rubbed her back until her sobs quieted.
After that Emily tried hard to act more normal, even while the dreams and the feelings they brought persisted. But every day, while Thomas was gone, she wandered listlessly around their apartment. She didn’t answer the telephone and she never went anywhere. She just sat on the bed, thinking about the dreams.
A month later, Thomas came home from work early. He thought he’d surprise Emily with a trip to
. She still wasn’t herself. It was more like she was trying to act like herself and not quite making it. Chicago
When he opened the apartment door, he called out “I’m home and I have a surprise for you! Pack your bags…”
The words died on his lips as he passed the bathroom. He could see Emily on the floor, one hand outstretched, an empty pill bottle lying beside her. The next hours would remain a blur of frantic phone calls, the ambulance, the ER and the pain. Emily was gone. The pain was unbearable.
Six months later, Thomas walked through the door of Eccentricities. He held in his hands the quilt. He never wanted to look at it again, but he knew how much Emily had loved it. She’d want someone else to have it.
There was a little old colored lady at the counter.
“Whatcha got dere?” The woman asked.
“It’s a quilt. I bought it here several months ago for my…bride.” He nearly choked on the word. Tears pricked behind his eyelids.
“Oh no.” The woman clucked her tongue as she eyed the quilt. “Dat one got bad juju.”
“What?” Thomas asked.
“Dis quilt got da bad juju. You can’t give dis to her.”
Thomas shook his head. “My bride is dead. She committed suicide six months ago.”
“Den de curse got her.”
“You’re talking nonsense. I just want to return this quilt.”
“Dat quilt got da bad juju. It be cursed.” She pointed a finger at him. “Women be stitchin quilts. Sometimes dey stitchin happy. And de quilt be full of good juju. But sometimes de be stitchin cryin or cursin. And dose quilts got de bad juju. Somebody been stitchin dis one wit de bad juju.”
Thomas’ jaw dropped open. He broke down and told the little old woman what had happened with Emily. How she’d had bad dreams and become increasingly distant and different. He told her of the suicide.
“It’s as I say.” She replied. “Somebody stitchin with de bad juju. De quilt carries de feelings wit it. You’re wife be dreamin de life of de woman dat did the stitchin. Dat life take over her life. Sad way of tings.”
Thomas turned and ran blindly from the store, wanting only to get away from this woman and her talk of juju. If what she said was true (but how could it be?) then he was ultimately responsible for Emily’s death. She’d said she didn’t like the store. He should have returned the quilt. He should have pieced the incidents together and known it was the quilt but how could it…
Thomas never saw the car that hit him. Lost in confusion, he stumbled out into the street. The EMTs said he died on impact.
Hope you enjoyed the tale.