From my bed, the house is quiet, too quiet until I hear the clickedy clickedy clickedy of my mother’s black Singer sewing machine. A deeper click—metal arm on metal—as the presser foot is raised; a small clunk when she lowers it again. A hum rolls the flywheel forward, and then clickedy clickedy clickedy under the machine’s tiny light, now faster, now slower, my mother’s hands under the machine’s strong light.
Plink—a pin drops into the pin box. Plink. Plink. Silence and I know she is re-pinning, re-folding alone at the dining room table, hunched over the dining room table, hours with that tiny, strong light.
How smart I will look in my new pleated skirt, I think. Her handiwork gathers yards of plaid into neat folds, over and over all that fabric into neat folds secured at the waistband with a straight topstitch. The pleat edges meet perfectly, obscuring the layer beneath. The cloth’s cross patterns always line up— “matching the plaid” the mark of a careful seamstress.
Tomorrow I will stand on a dining room chair and turn, turn one pin at a time as she folds the hem just below my skinny knees. It takes so long that a little restless hot spot burns in my belly. I hate how tiny my turns have to be. I want to be able to twirl and leap. Eventually, the ironing board will be brought out, and each pleat ironed so that they march briskly around the skirt, ready to give and flow with movement. A pleated skirt is not as good for twirling as a flared one, but the accordion action of the pleats is excellent for leaping.
Copyright, 2016, Linda S. Buckmaster