Short Stories and Essays

Essie’s Sewing Machine


Essie’s sewing machine needed retrieving. She’d gained weight during the winter months and wanted to make herself a dress. Gathering the super bright flashlight and pulling the stairs down from the ceiling for the second time in two days was as much as she could do to remedy her problem. There was a light up there, but she could never find it quickly enough to ease her skittish feelings. Going up into the black space was not a happy thing for Essie to do.

Instead of stressing or fussing about it, she decided to ask her husband, Matthew, to bring it down from the attic. Essie wanted to inspect it and begin working on a new Spring project. On most days, he came home for lunch, so she didn’t feel the need to phone him at the shop. The urge to have the machine brought down was overwhelming, but she convinced herself that she could wait. It was already nearing the end of February, and so the deliberate aim was to finish her sewing before the March winds gave way to the spirited, warm Spring weather.

She and Matthew owned a resale shop and were once featured in their local small business magazine showcasing the store and their expert bargain hunting prowess status. They were always on the lookout for free or nearly free things to add to their inventory. They skipped no possibilities for priced items including items from family, friends, neighbors and on occasion their cast-off.

Pulling focus away from the attic Essie started preparing a light meal for their lunch which was not a tiring chore. It gave her a chance to glance at an occasional playful squirrel or a low flying bird. She could see Spring budding throughout the backyard. The view from her kitchen window was beautiful. March was a calming and peaceful time of year. It ushered in the blooming daffodils quite nicely, and the spectacular view even gave her the idea to shake up her otherwise drab closet and insert an eye-catching infusion of bright colors. Pondering the idea that maybe a yellow and orange girlish outfit would urge her to lose some of the unwanted pounds.

Memories of her last sewing project gave her pause, but she shook off the negative feelings and resolved to overcome the dreadful try. It had taken her a long while to finish the design, and she vowed never again to tackle a dressmaking task. So the sewing machine remained in the attic for well over ten years.

Suddenly the front door opened. It was Matthew. “Why are you home so early, Dear? It’s only 10:30.”

He could hardly wait to tell her about their good fortune. “We’re not rich Essie, but we just made a great sell!”

“Oh? So early this morning?”

“A gentleman came into the shop and saw your old sewing machine and made me an offer that I just couldn’t refuse.”

“What old sewing machine? ”

“You know. The one that’s been sitting in the attic all these year gathering dust.”

She now had to sit down on the nearby sofa. Taking a sip of coffee, she finally exhaled. “You mean my Aunt Tresa’s old Singer machine; the one that’s been in the family for three generations? The one that my Mother used to make my wedding dress?”

Matthew sat next to her and put his thick arms around her heaving shoulders.
“I’ll get you another one, Essie. Besides the newer ones are programmable, lightweight, faster and can stitch market quality stitches. All the ones you like, Honey. ”

“Yes and they break easily, cost a fortune, and they’re made everywhere except in American.”

Moments had passed before Essie spoke again. “My Mother made me promise that I would never sell the machine or get rid of it for any reason. It was the most prized possession of her Mother. Now it’s gone and I will never see again.”

Matthew wiped the moisture from his eyes. His heart now weighed several pounds more than it did when he arrived home. He thought his news would go right along with the bright, sunshiny day.

“Why didn’t you ask me if I wanted the machine?”

“It was just up there. So that told me everything that I needed to know.”

Essie shook her head in disbelief while deafening silence competed with the low tones of a nearby grandfather clock and a whistling tea kettle.