by Willow Vanderling from the Threadville Mysteries by Janet Bolin
I was six years old, and staying with my grandparents for Christmas vacation. My mother was a physician. She and my father planned to come for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, and would take me home in time for school.
I don’t want you to think I felt abandoned. Not at all. I’d spent my vacations with my grandparents all of my life, and was as comfy in my little room up under the eaves as I was twenty miles away in my pink room with the white frilly canopy bed that had been my heart’s desire two Christmases ago. With that bed, I felt like the luckiest girl ever.
I leaned against my grandmother’s knees. She held an embroidery hoop on her lap and was embroidering linen guest towels for my mother.
“Why don’t you use pretty colors?” I asked her. “Did you run out of pink thread?”
“This thick and shiny type of thread is called ‘floss.’ I thought about what your mother would like best. She uses white towels in her guest bathroom, doesn’t she?”
“Yes, but wouldn’t she like pink if she had it?”
Granny smiled over the tops of her glasses. “I don’t think so. Not for her guest bathroom.”
“She lets me have pink in my bedroom.”
“That’s because she knows you like pink. You like the warm colors. She prefers the cold ones.” She concentrated a French knot.
“I wish I could do that,” I said.
“What you’re doing with that floss.”
“You will, some day.”
I thought about what she’d said about my mother’s color preference. Slowly, I concluded that Granny was right. All the rooms in my parents’ house were white or pale tints of gray, green, or blue. Only my room was bright, beautiful pink, and it wasn’t because they hadn’t gotten around to painting the other rooms pink. That was the way they liked it. Maybe I could change their minds, but I’d already learned they were resistant to changing their minds.
On Christmas Eve, I got Poppy to take me shopping. I knew just what Granny would like. I stood before the display of embroidery floss for a long time, choosing the right colors, then changing my mind, putting them back, and choosing them all over again. I ended up with shell pink, baby pink, hot pink, and fuschia.
Up in my room that afternoon, I wrapped the tins of cookies I’d made (with Granny’s help) for my parents and for Poppy. I was almost more excited about the pink embroidery floss for Granny than I was about whatever might be under the tree for me the next day.
My parents arrived. We had a Christmas Eve feast, and I was hustled off to bed.
In the morning, I made Granny wait until last to open my present, and she gave me one from her to unwrap at the same time.
I gazed in wonder at the things nestled in that tissue paper. An embroidery hoop. Pieces of white fabric. Pieces of pink fabric. Embroidery needles. Small scissors with real blades. And embroidery floss in shell pink, baby pink, hot pink, and fuschia. I looked up into my grandmother’s eyes. “I love it!” I cried. “This is my favorite present!”
“And this is mine,” she said. “You knew what I would like.”
Suspicious, I looked at Poppy. “Did you tell her what I got her?”
He shook his head. “No. She’d already put your little kit together. You both chose the same colors of that embroidery thread for each other.”
“Floss,” I corrected him. I threw myself into Granny’s arms, and we all laughed. Granny laughed so hard she cried.
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You can read about how Willow solves a murder in the latest Threadville Mystery, THREAD AND BURIED, available from these booksellers. Read the first chapter here.
Janet Bolin’s first Threadville Mystery, DIRE THREADS, was nominated for both an Agatha Award for Best First novel and for the 2012 Bony Blithe Award. The second in the series, THREADED FOR TROUBLE, was nominated for the 2013 Bony Blithe Award.
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Janet's next Threadville Mystery, NIGHT OF THE LIVING THREAD, comes out next June.