Elaine Kindred pulled back the drapes and looked out onto the street. The sun was just beginning to set between the silhouettes of three tall palm trees. The image was strange and romantic. She still wasn't used to the sight of palm trees and oranges . . . and living in an apartment. It made her feel cooped up.
The days weren't so bad. She could get out and walk through the neighborhood, and there were plenty of household chores to keep her busy. But the evenings were long and restless.Blaine had not been accepted in the military. Because of his specialized training, he had been sent to Los Angeles, where he worked on warplanes at North American Aircraft. He was glad for the job, excited in fact. It made him feel good to know the work he was doing was a vital part of the war effort. Much of it had to be done in cramped quarters and awkward positions. Not everyone could do it. But Blaine had a knack for it. He worked hard, and enjoyed it.
But often he had to work night shift. He didn't mind. During the day, temperatures in the huge working bays soared. At night it was much more comfortable. Often, a cool breeze would slide in through the huge, open windows. The constant rattle of riveters was like music.
But Elaine didn't like it. She could never settle when Blaine wasn't home at night. She would listen to the radio for a while . . . Jack Benny, and Fibber McGee and Molly. But mystery shows like "The Inner Sanctum" and "The Green Hornet" made her nervous.
To take her mind off the loneliness, she would pull out the tiny, six-sided quilt blocks and work on them. Blaine's mother had given them to her after she and Blaine were married. At the same time she showed her how to sew them. "Someday," Blaine's mother had said, "you'll look at these quilt blocks and they will tell you stories."
When they moved from Utah, Elaine almost left the quilt blocks behind with the few things they had stored away in her folks' chicken coop in cardboard boxes. At the last minute, though, she had put them into the back seat of the car along with the sparse belongings they had taken with them to Los Angeles.
She hadn't thought much about it at the time. But now the hundreds of little pieces of fabric were a godsend. She always had to have something to do with her hands. One restless evening, she pulled the quilt blocks out and started the meticulous process of sewing them together.
Because of the threat of possible attack on coastal areas, there were often blackouts of the city. When the air raid sirens would sound, she would pull the blinds down tight and huddle under the kitchen table. There, in the glow of a small lantern, she would work on her quilt blocks. It kept her from thinking too much about the danger of bombs and the eerie mood of the dark city outside her window.
Just the other evening, Elaine got down the big plastic bag she kept the quilt in to protect it from getting dusty. The Relief Society was having a quilting demonstration the next night and had asked her to make sure it was still OK. The quilt spread out across the sofa and over her lap, spilling waves of color over her knees and onto the floor.
She thought of Verland Beck, who several years after they had moved to Alpine, had finished off the quilt for her, binding the front with a soft, thick layer of batting. Verland was gone now. As she studied the delicate needlework, Elaine thought of her.
Elaine remembered the nights in Los Angeles when she had sat under the kitchen table sewing quilt blocks together in the dim light. That was 45 years ago. Why, she was no more than a girl at the time.
And Blaine. A wave of loneliness swept over her for a moment. She thought of the apartment in Los Angeles. She could picture Blaine coming in the door after night shift, tired and dirty. If only she could see him now, she wouldn't mind if he were black with grease.
She looked at the pattern of the quilt itself. Blaine's mother had cut out those tiny strips of colored cloth.
Suddenly Elaine remembered something Blaine's mother had said to her long ago, when she had given her the quilt blocks. For some reason, the words came back as clear as crystal.
"Someday," Blaine's mother had said, "you'll look at these quilt blocks and they will tell you stories."