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Knitting Fiction

Chapter 09: Deborah, Revenge

Published on: March 10, 2024

Deborah sinks down and heavy into the shop’s recliner. Her right hand makes an empty swipe for a handle that is not there. She reminds herself that this is not her home recliner. She places her hands on the arms of the chair, and with all of her strength, pushes back, forcing the back of the chair into the recline position, which automatically swings the footstool and her legs upward. She settles back, closes her eyes and settles in. This is your first day back to work, you are allowed to put your feet up. 

     She showed up at the yarn shop 30 minutes early, as is her habit. Good thing because it took her longer than usual to open the shop. Starting up the computer, signing into the sales software, and Ravelry, turning on the printer, checking for phone messages, even prepping the sitting area for knitters was not a problem. She did not realize, until she tried, that she uses two arms above her head to turn on the neon “OPEN” sign. Although the drain, stitches and dressing have been removed, the long incision made to allow the removal of underarm lymph nodes limits her range of motion. Try as she might, she could not reach her left arm above her head. So she dragged a chair over to the sign, and being careful to hold on to the back of the chair, stepped up. “Do not fall. Just please do not fall,” she said out loud to no one as she gradually, very gradually, unfolded herself to stand upright on the chair. “This is such a bad idea.” The added height enabled her to use both hands to turn on the sign’s switch. She could tell by the reflection in the plate glass picture window when each of the letters was dancing in its own brightly colored light. “Mission accomplished, now be careful on the way down.”  When she looked past the sign’s reflection, she could see that there were already two customers waiting in the lot. They were polite and waited in their cars until she unlocked the door and flipped the old-fashioned door sign from “CLOSED” to “OPEN.” 

     Her first two customers were typical of first customers on a school day. Doors on the school bus squeezing shut, with the kids safely inside means that mothers can go where they want. And some want to go to the yarn shop. One of the young mothers had two toddlers. The other must have worked retail at some point in her life because she said, “Take care of her first, because I just have a quick question about this pattern.” 

     “Sure thing. Just make yourself comfortable in the seating area if you like,” Deborah told her. “There is fresh coffee and tea. Help yourself.” 

     Then Deborah turned her attention to the other mother’s children. squatted down and greeted each personally. Easy to do. They were adorable, of course. Plus giving them attention first, increased the odds that they would not tear the shop apart. This customer had run out of yarn and needed to buy the same, matching yarn to finish her project. She had not brought the yarn sleeve, so Deborah used the computer’s sales software to look up the yarn and dye lot of her purchase. 

     “This is your lucky day,” Deborah said, “there is more left of this dye lot.” And because Deborah is nowadays a judgmental woman, which makes her a natural teacher, she adds,  “When I buy yarn for a project, I always buy an extra skein—just in case. You can always bring it back. But of course, in reality, no one ever brings yarn back, do they?” 

     The next customer’s question was not as “quick” as promised. The customer had lost her way in lacework, and Deborah had to match project rows withchart rows, and tear back, and re-seat stitches, explain and place a lace life-line, show her how to use a stick-on highlighter, identify her next row and watch her execute it. It took a quick 45 minutes. 

     Deborah lifts her hands from the armrests, places them on her belly and interlaces her fingers so they won’t slide down when she doses off. She is a confident napper. The front door of the shop is belled. The back door is locked. She knows she will awaken if either door is opened. In fact, it is likely that she will pop into full and bright consciousness if a car even so much as drives into the lot. Deborah is proud to be one of humanities night-guards. God, if I’m this tired now, what will it be like when I start radiation? 

     Genetic testing is in her favor. The oncologist had explained that adding chemotherapy to her treatment plan would add very little to her survival odds. So “no” to chemo, and “yes” to radiation.   She’d already met with the radiation oncologist. Starting tomorrow, for six weeks, every day, first thing in the morning, she would drive into Anchorage, lie down under the Cyber Knife, take a deep breath, hold perfectly still, and let The Knife have its way with her. She already had her tattoos. The first in her life. Three small, immovable, carefully placed dotes—one on each side of her rib cage and one square between her breasts. She was nervous, of course, who wouldn’t’ be, about her ability to hold perfectly still while the machine pierced her with a perfectly calibrated, aligned and lethal beam. He had explained to her that as the radiation built up she would become increasingly more tired. Her skin, through which the knife passed, would become increasingly more sore. He had left her to understand that exhaustion and skin damage would build for several weeks after her last treatment. And, Deborah makes a point to remind herself, and it is very, likely that this radiation will destroy any remaining cancer cells. The Cyber Knife will vastly increase her odds. Deborah has always been the kind of person that can do hard things. She closes her eyes and drifts off. 

     She awakens to the sound of a car engine briefly revving before it is turned off. 

To be continued . . . .

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