Saturday, 27 June 2015

Fifth Stitch by Sophie Dumont

From when my hands were half their size I learnt how to cross-stitch with my mother’s favourite needle. Like a row of little brown and grey kisses the shape of a city skyline slowly formed. Of course I’d always known something odd happened on the fifth stitch but my mother’s friends always chuckled at my haphazard finish of a line and I had no reason to question their skill in comparison to my own. I became accomplished with the needle, now my favourite too and I got used to the itching after every fifth stitch.  After I finished an image I would stick it in the window and see it come to life. Most days I would gaze across at the block of flats opposite ours, wishing my mother’s needle could stitch through the grid of hollow windows, past the couple opposite and up to floor five, the flat with the washing line. In my embroidery hoop the buildings were binding. Up and across diagonally, I move, and there the fifth stitch would appear on the soft flesh of my wrist too, a reflection from gauze to skin that was now hardened with scar tissue where I’ve had to cut away at the skin to release the thread. I should really stop cross-stitching, maybe even skip the fifth stitch but inevitably with time the sixth would become the fifth and it would catch up on me, the itch continuing.  They ushered me through the doors of a clinic once, the doctor mumbling with practiced concern but I just told them it’s the damn fifth stitch and my mother’s needle is the only one that hooks so smoothly, doesn’t catch in the previous thread. I almost feel sorry for others that don’t have a passion like mine.

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