Saturday 22 June 2013

'Safety Pins' by Sebastian Soare

The cat moves an inch further in the amber light. She watches something from behind the dirty glass. Some quinces are lying on the earth, prematurely turning ochre, but the branches are still heavy with fruit. Among the yarrow growing wildly in the garden something silently makes its way, shaking the dried stems. There are seeds at the top of those stems, waiting for this movement and some of them fall. Some will wait for a stronger wind. Some will rot in the rainy days to follow.

The cat’s tail moves like the needle of a lazy metronome. Somewhere not far behind there’s the blurred silhouette of an old woman. She’s close enough to the window, but her features have always been unclear. On the window sill, next to the rusty latch, there’s a cup of tea that has been sweetened twice. She doesn’t remember about it. She’s too busy knitting a scarf. It’s dark brown and it’s traversed by a virtuosic pattern of intersecting cables. She uses a safety pin to suspend the stitches. Another three are resting on the saucer, tense in their clasp. The scarf is already too long. It has been too long for a long time now. Sometimes, when she finishes a row, she looks up, over her glasses, in the same direction as the cat.

A muffled sound disturbs her thoughts. Has there been a knock on the door? The cat darts in that direction and she’s the first to know there’s nothing to get excited about.

‘Oh, look, Mizzy, there’s a letter for us.’

She picks up the envelope from the carpet along with a ball of ginger fur.

‘Oh, Mizzy, I do wish you wouldn’t leave your fur all over the place.’ And then, in a more subdued voice: ‘Oh. It’s just another bill.’

She leaves it on the telephone table. She lifts the dusty receiver to check for a dial tone. Her heart skips a beat. The sound from the receiver is continuous. The cat is back on the window sill. She doesn’t look through the glass anymore. She watches an ant walking on the brim of the teacup and then she curls up her body ready for sleep.

‘I think I should bind off now. What do you say, Mizzy? What should our next project be? Do you need another cover for your cushion?’

Outside, a blackbird is eating from the quince. As the sun goes further up, the woman casts on new stitches, loop after loop, second after second, heartbeat after heartbeat. The drawers are bursting with knitted baby clothes, hats and socks and enough scarfs to keep a whole village warm. Sometimes a stich falls from the needle unnoticed. Sometimes she loses track of the time. Sometimes a heartbeat happens too late. The cat purrs, the woman purls. A simple stockinette pattern. Four safety pins on the saucer, coils silently pushing to break free.


  1. Oh my. What a wonderful story. The descriptions of the quince and the seeds are perfect. The passing of time is so well depicted. I could hear it ticking onwards. Lovely, lovely stuff.

  2. Beautifully evocative story telling. I can hear the silence.

  3. A wonderful story, and very visual. Well done!

  4. Emotionally indepth, superb intensity, curiosity loomed in every sentence, anxiously anticipating the powerful absorbtion of what ever next? You can almost feel the sun and warmth pounding in through the window. One can almost smell the juiciness, if not taste the pulp of bitter, sour-sweet quince before the black birds peckings. Feeling the yarn of thee over-knitted-ness..... Mizzy's purs like clockwork of heartbeats in sync with our own and her masters thought process of ideas ticking away nonchantily. All in suspense of the safety pins silence, but coil sprung truths, just waiting to burst their mechanically bound coils to continue ........................a story further.

    Great food for thought. So perfectly put!!! Thank you Seb S. Great read, loved it.


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