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Read Courtney Gill's Winning Entry in the Global Campus Creative Writing Competition

26 April 2016

As she watches her mother sew a square of fabric onto other squares of fabric, she is fascinated. Her eyes widen. She stares. The corners of her mouth twitch- will this become a new obsession? Only time shall tell...

A day later, it is all she could think about. Cardboard templates, cotton thread, fabric patterns. They flash before her eyes. Will they combine to make a blanket? A bag? She is uncertain; the only thing she knows is that she is obsessed. 

After yet another day of patch-work creations whizzing back and forth through her mind, she makes a decision. She goes to her mother. She asks if she could be taught the art (the ever so mystical art) of patch-working. Her mother agrees. She is taught how to hold the fabric. She is taught how to cut the templates. Slowly now, she is told, until you get more practice. So she goes slowly. Patch-work is still all she could think about.

She spends hours sewing. She sews and she sews and she sews and she sews. The stitches cross over each other; the fabric fraying under her touch. Slowly now, she sighs, you need more practice. Frustration is not a stranger to her. She refuses to stop sewing. She must practice.

Hours become days. She sews and she sews and she sews and she sews. She pricks herself countless times; the fabric shears heavy in her hand. She grits her teeth. Slowly now, she mutters, you need much more practice. The needle draws blood. She wonders to herself: how long did her mother take to get that good at patch-work?

Days become weeks, and weeks become months. She sews and she sews and she sews and she sews. The stitches are still wonky; the fabric is unevenly cut. Slowly now, she tells herself, until you get more practice.

Months become years. She sews and she sews and she sews and she sews. Her stitches are near impeccable; the fabric shears now almost an extension of her arm. No more need to go slowly now, she knows, she has enough practice. This is where her obsession takes her. 

Years become decades. Her mother passes, a patch-work quilt draped over her shoulders. She mourns, throwing her sadness into her sewing. Her stitches have not diminished in quality; the fabrics feel familiar to her touch. It's okay to go slowly now, she thinks; you can never have enough practice. She still wonders exactly how long her mother took to be so good at patch-work.

Days become weeks, weeks become months, and months become years. She has her own daughter now. The child watches her sew, eyes widening and the corners of her mouth twitching. Will this become an obsession? Only time shall tell... 

Slowly now, she tells her child, until you get more practice.

By Courtney Gill

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