Saturday, August 27, 2011

Story: Winnie's Pantyhose Window Screens

I think that you will really enjoy this. It is not a hosiery story about some guy wearing it in public, and yet hosiery is still a significant part of the plot. It is very family friendly. Bear in mind, though, that it was just a writing practise, so it might not be very well written. Read the remainder of my post for the story.

During supper, Mrs. Jones said, “What's the matter, Winnie? It's lasagna, your favourite.”

Winnie said, “I'm not hungry, Mom,” as she nibbled away.

“Are you not hungry, or just not in the mood to eat?” Mrs. Jones said.

“It's that art competition, Mom,” Winnie said. The last high school spring art competition was four months ago. Everybody else used oil paints, which Mr. and Mrs. Jones couldn't afford, so Mr. and Mrs. Jones encouraged Winnie to use pencil crayons. She had made a serious effort to draw a realistic picture of plants and a few animals. As soon as the students saw it, they laughed, and teased her. One thing that really bothered her was the fact that many of the students, who laughed, had parents who were laid off as her dad was. “They've already announced this year's competition in school, and as soon as that happened people started laughing at me again.”

“Why don't you make a quilt or a patch for a quilt?” Mrs. Jones said.

“That's old fashioned,” Winnie said.

Mr. Jones said, “A lot of nice quilts are being made these days, and they win big awards.”

Winnie said, “For quilt competitions, right?”

Mr. Jones said, “Yeah...”

Winnie rolled her eyes, and said, “Well, this ain't no quilt competition, Dad.”

Her parents shook their heads and sighed.

After Winnie finished off her homework, she took another look at Mr. Smith's window screens. Winnie would often stare at a window screen, and then try to form pictures in her mind using the pieces on it. Once, she imagined that some suntan pieces appeared to be a lion. Another time, the navy blue pieces appeared to be a dark waves mixing debris on a stormy ocean. The latest change made one of them look like the Virgin Mary. She began to wonder if he did it on purpose, because it looked just like the stained glass at her church. She thought about all the effort that Mr. Smith put into patching the damaged window screens, and all the effort that the artists put into staining the glass.

She ran into the living room, almost tripping. She said, “Mom!”

Mrs. Jones, not bothering to look up from the novel that she was reading, said, “What is it, Winnie?”

“Do you still keep those old pairs of pantyhose? The pantyhose with the runs,” Winnie said.

“Yeah, of course,” Mrs. Jones said.

“Where, Mom?” Winnie said.

“Why?” Mrs. Jones said.

“Because. I know what I want to do for the art competition,” Winnie said.

“They're next to the quilting supplies,” Mrs. Jones said.

Winnie ran to the attic, and found tons of shopping bags full of washed old hosiery. Her mom had kept all the pink and light blue tights from when Winnie took ballet, before her dad and a whole bunch of the town got laid off at the factory. There were so many suntan pairs. There were also black, grey, navy blue, brown, and white pairs. Some were sheer and some were opaque.

Winnie suddenly remembered that they didn't have any window screens or the frames for them. She thought that Mr. Smith might spare a frame, but she realized that he probably could not help, because he only repaired them and never bought them. Just like Winnie's family, the other neighbours never had any window screens at all. She pounded a bag, and crossed her arms.

After a moment of self-pity, she searched among the clutter in the attic, in hopes of finding something similar that could be used as a frame. At the back of the attic, she found a torn painting of the Virgin Mary. She grinned and nodded her head.

She brought downstairs the painting, all the hosiery, and a sewing kit. She cleared out some space on the coffee table. When she compared the picture frame to her bedroom window, she thought, “Too small. Good enough for the competition, though. It'll have to do for now.”

Mr. Jones asked, “What are you doing, Winnie?”

She said, “I'm making our home look nicer, and putting this hosiery to good use.” She took out the painting from the frame, and left it on the coffee table. She began cutting the hosiery into different shapes to match different parts of the painting, and then sewed them together.

Over several days, she discovered that she could make the shapes have gradient colours, by stretching some parts of the fabric, and letting other parts of the fabric relax.

Over the next months, she had to remake and resew several of the pieces, because runs started forming along the sewn edges. She soon discovered new ways of sewing the pieces together, which helped to prevent runs.

The night before the competition, Winnie said to her mom, I thought that this would be easy, but it turns out that there is a lot of work in planning and preparation.

Yeah, sewing is the smallest part.

You mean that you have that problem too?

Oh, yeah. With any sewing project, measuring and cutting are the hardest parts.

I used to think that you were being lazy when you took so long to put a quilt together, but I guess I was wrong.

With a wink, Mrs. Jones said, I think that you now understand why I take pride in a completed quilt.

Winnie slowly nodded with a smile.

At the following art competition, the judge took one look at the screen, and immediately furrowed his brow and shook his head.

Winnie dropped her head, and sighed in frustration.

He said, “I can't believe this. The pieces are so well proportioned. The colours are so interesting. This must have been very difficult.”

She won second place. Nobody laughed at her ever again.

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