By My Voice I Shall Be Known
The backing fabric is thick and my needle blunt – I cannot afford a new one, nor the sharpener’s fee – so I put too much weight behind my thrust and force the point through. Not only the quilt but also my pointer finger are impaled. I do not cry out, though I long to, determined not to make the hideous grunt that is the only noise left to me – in my memory, I still hold the sound of my voice, but each time I bellow it lessens that memory, chips away at it. Slowly, carefully, I draw the thread fully through, then pull my injured digit off the silver shaft. A scrap of spare cloth is wrapped around the glistening blue-ruby drop, then the needle itself is assiduously cleaned. I set the thick bundle of material aside and limp to the basin in the far corner of my tiny attic room. Washing the injury, applying a salve, then bandaging the deep wound I look out the sliver of a window, not really seeing so much as remembering what is there before me.
Bellsholm sprawls along the banks of the wide river, loose-limbed as a sleeping giant. Up the foothills along the edge of the town some few ramshackle houses have crept, not too high, and certainly nothing up on the majestic outcropping of the Bell Rock. At the furtherest boundaries there are farms to supply the markets, businesses including a carriage maker, an iron works, the marble worker’s studio, three carpentry and joinery firms, and the coffin-maker’s emporium where she employs four apprentices, and the hostelry, where travellers who do not wish to enter the town can rest, eat and exchange their horses for fresh ones to continue on their journeys. Down by the river are the docks, brimming and bobbing with great ships from afar filled with all the finest things a prosperous town requires, and small local boats that bring in fish and travel up and down the reaches too narrow for the caravels and barques.
The stab in my finger aches and throbs and drags me back to the cramped space of my room. I must ignore the pain and get back to my work. To the quilt, the wedding quilt; the wedding quilt that was meant to be mine.