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The Green Cardigan

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					The Green Cardigan

Maisie sat in her chair after lunch. It had been a very nice lunch and she had
enjoyed both courses. She surveyed the room – most people were fussily settling
down, adjusting cushions, glasses, newspapers. They would probably be asleep in no
time. Maisie looked across the room to where Judith sat. There she was – reading
a book or pretending to. Judith was wearing the green cardigan again. Maisie
stared enviously. The green cardigan looked so like the one she’d had, oh, so many
years ago. It was exactly the same shade, with six buttons and just two rows of
cable down each side with a pocket on each side as well.
Maisie remembered her mother knitting the cardigan and how each evening she
would watch the progress of the sleeves, the two fronts and finally the back. It
seemed to take ages before being stitched up…
She recalled going to the wool shop with her mother to buy the wool. It was at the
end of the war and she was just 12. The coupons needed had been begged,
borrowed or bought and Maisie could remember how excited she felt when they
went to the old wool shop in the High Street. Long gone now, of course. There
didn’t seem to be any of the old shops left. Her mind wandered, remembering the
bell that tinkled when you opened the door and how old Mrs Crouch would appear
from out the back of the shop. Mrs Crouch was ancient even in those days but she
always knew where everything was and what stock she had.
There seemed to be a bit of a disturbance at the other side of the room – nothing
to worry about. Someone snoring and their neighbour complaining. Only to be
expected in a warm room after a good lunch. Maisie settled back again into her
comfortable dreamy state. It was so pleasant to remember that lovely warm
cardigan her mother had so lovingly knitted. It had fitted perfectly when finished.
She remembered that she had been a bit worried about the cuffs – they had to be
folded back a few inches but her mother said this was to allow for growth. She
thought she could remember the first time she had worn it. It had been to her
Aunty Doris’s wedding. Her Aunty had been married before but her husband was
killed early on in the war and she got married again, to Bert, when he came home
after being demobbed. It had been a lovely wedding Maisie remembered – not as
extravagant as they seemed to be these days, though, and there were nowhere near
as many people to cater for. Just immediate family and couple of friends. They
had all gone back to Doris and Bert’s house afterwards for what was called a
wedding breakfast. Everyone had rallied round and helped with preparing food and
Maisie remembered in particular the wedding cake which her Mum had made. She
had helped with the preparation and mixing, pinching a few precious sultanas and
currants along the way, and she was allowed to mix up the dried egg and pour it
slowly into the cake mixture. Yes, that had been a lovely time and she felt so smart
on the actual day wearing her new outfit – the cream dirndle skirt her mother had
made and her new green cardigan, patent leather shoes and new white socks. She
remembered how grand her parents looked – father in his demob suit with his hair
smothered in brilliantine and her mother in her best grey costume and wearing
gran’s fox fur that she had borrowed. Maisie was fascinated by the fox fur. It
was worn over one shoulder and fastened with a clip hidden under the fox’s head so
that it looked as if the fox was clasping his own body.
The rattle of teacups disturbed Maisie’s train of thought. Tea already – my
goodness how time flies. She got up out of her chair and stretched her legs.
Judith was doing the same thing and Maisie noticed she had rolled up the cardigan
sleeves. I used to do that to my cardigan, she though – especially when it was
getting a bit small for me. She smiled to herself, remembering how she was so
loathe to part with it. Even when it was really much too small for her and the back
seemed to have shrunk so much that it would always ride up. No amount of pulling
or stretching would lengthen it. Eventually, of course, she had to stop wearing it -
it was much too small for her. What happened to it in the end? She couldn’t
remember. How sad. She tried to concentrate and think what had happened to it.
No, it just wouldn’t come.
A few days later Maisie’s favourite carer, Mary, came into her bedroom while she
was getting dressed. “Here you are, Maisie,” she said, “why don’t you put this on
today. It will keep you nice and warm and the colour will certainly suit you.” Maisie
couldn’t believe her eyes – it was the green cardigan. She held it in her hands and
brought it up to her face, snuggling into the warm, sweet smelling wool – a clean
smell, freshly washed. How lovely, she though, my green cardigan. She hurriedly
finished dressing and went along to the dining room for her breakfast, though she
was much too excited to eat.
The lounge was quite full when she went to sit there after breakfast. There was a
little discussion with the carious groups – what they were going to do, who was
expecting visitors, what was on the TV later in the day… Maisie felt very contented
and warm. She was wearing her cardigan and she felt secure. She looked around
the room and noticed, vaguely, that Judith’s chair was empty.

(Pamela, November 2006)

				
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