flannel

Conrad Altmann

There once was a scrap of fabric. It lay in a bin of other scraps in a small quilting shop owned by a kind old man. All of the other scraps were different from each other, some were striped, some had polkadots, some were silk or satin and shone in the light. Others had silver or gold thread woven into them and looked very fancy.

But this little scrap was none of these things. It was scratchy flannel and was patterned with purple and green with criss-crossed lines. It didn’t look fancy, it wasn’t even square; one side was longer than the others and it was frayed on the edges. To make matters worse, it was bigger than all the other scraps, and so the others ignored it and didn’t want to be next to it in the bin.

Every day, people would come into the little shop and buy things to make fancy clothes, flowery drapes, and other pretty things. Occasionally someone would stop by the bin and rummage around for a scrap to meet their needs. Sometimes it was to mend a hole, other times it was to choose a piece to make something very small.

But every time, the little scrap of flannel would be pushed to the corner of the bin because it was too big, or too scratchy, or just didn’t match. One time, someone even suggested that the old man should just throw it out because it was already falling apart. He had just smiled and said that someone would come looking for something exactly like that scrap someday, and so the little scrap of flannel held out hope.

Then, one day, just before the shop was about to close for the evening, a mother and her young son came into the shop. She went to the man and explained that she wanted to make a quilt for her son, and he was here to choose what fabrics to use for it.

The little scrap of flannel watched from its bin as mother and son went from shelf to shelf, flipping through all of the fancy rolls of fabric. Every so often, the mother would hold out a certain pattern for her son to judge, and he would take it into his hands, close his eyes and gently rub it up against his cheek. Then he would hand it back and shake his head. Each time he would have an excuse not to choose it, it was too smooth, or too flowery, or too fancy.

The little scrap heard all of these things and pondered them. Most people came into the shop looking for all of those things. It wondered why the little boy didn’t, and it hoped.

Eventually, the mother and her son made it back to the front of the shop, not having found anything that pleased the boy. But when the boy wandered over to the scrap bin and peeked inside, his eyes lit up at all of the different colors and patterns. He reached his small hands into the bin and squeezed and rubbed all of the scraps, delighted in their differences.

When he touched the piece of flannel, he paused. Gently, he lifted it out of the bin, closed his eyes and pressed it up to his cheek. Suddenly, the boy was at his mother’s side, tugging at her shirt and holding up the little scrap of flannel. His mother smiled sweetly and handed the scrap to the old man. He turned to the boy and commended him on his fine choice and explained that unlike fancy fabrics, the more you love flannel, the softer it gets.

The boy’s smile widened when he heard this and proudly stated that it was just like he was! He explained that he had been adopted, and when his mommy met him, he was bigger than other kids, and didn’t match and was even a little “scratchy”. But now he fits perfectly and is even softer too!

His mother smiled proudly as she heard her son say these things. She offered to pay the old man for the scrap, but he only smiled and put his hands into his pockets and shook his head, explaining that the scrap was meant for the boy, and his excitement was more than payment enough.

The mother stitched the little scrap of flannel into the very center of the quilt’s design so that it was the most important part. The boy loved his quilt, and the piece of flannel was happy and soft.

short story
2020-02-09 13:36:00

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