The Family Quilt
by Jo-Ann Sparrow (from 'Darling Adopted Daughter')
"Teresa realised she could climb up and ride the quilt and be carried inside with her family, but she could never find her way into the pattern. It remained a mystery to her, not hostile, not unwelcoming, just impossible to penetrate."
Teresa watched her family closely to find her niche amongst them. It seemed she observed people in a different way to everyone else, allowing millions of tiny antennae to sprout from her body. A sensory anemone, her feelers swept around them, feeling, intuiting. She absorbed words and tones, scanned for undertones, things left unsaid that revealed more than words uttered.
Sometimes her interpretations satisfied a curiosity, or built on an established instinct. These discoveries tasted sweet, saccharine and biting but were a gratifying treat. Sometimes the flavour was sharp and bitter, leaving her with a sour, stale taste and feeling confused, stifled and unanchored. It didn’t stop her though, like an addict she always went looking for more information. Her family confused her. People perplexed her. Most often she drew her antennae back in, feeling alienated.
She could see the golden threads securing her family when they came together in the afternoon shade on steamy long weekends or holidays to sip icy drinks and enjoy each other. Deceptively powerful, the gossamer threads sparkled and glowed, gaining strength when her family finished each other’s sentences or laughed easily at shared memories and stories.
Teresa watched a glinting thread emerge from her sister’s mouth and waft on the breeze to slip around her brother’s wrist. She stood, chasing the string like an escaping balloon, catching it between her fingers, turning around and around to wind the thread about her waist, an attempt to anchor her within the family web.
When she looked down though, the thread was gone. Her t-shirt hung loose and unbelted. It was a slight of hand, a magician’s illusion. The thread had continued on to its original destination, not to be interfered with by Teresa or any other interloper. The threads continued to shoot and anchor all afternoon, firming when they found a hold.
Teresa tried trickery and ruse to fool the threads into including her. She laughed when her family did and attempted to join conversations. She sat on her sister's lap, purring while she sang the Flower Pot Men song and called her ‘little weed’. She hoped the threads would mistakenly lasso her into the famiily, but they weren’t to be fooled, wafting up on the wind and finding another course, bypassing her.
When the mosquitoes arrived to herald an end to the afternoon with skin slapping and raised red lumps, the threads were weaved tight, into an elaborate quilt. Teresa realised she could climb up and ride the quilt and be carried inside with her family, but she could never find her way into the pattern.
It remained a mystery to her, not hostile, not unwelcoming, just impossible to penetrate.