Tryptich

Beatrice

“Knit one, pearl two,” she mumbled through pursed lips. “Knit two, pearl one. Knit three, pearl three.”

Then she stopped.

“Wait a minute,” she told herself. “How did I do it on the last row.”

She ran her arthritis-twisted fingers over the edge of the red sweater.

“Damn it!” she said. “Missed a pearl. It’ll take me forever to get this done. I should’ve just picked up a gift card at Target for his birthday. They’ll probably never put it on him anyway.”

She began pulling out the stitches to get back to the mistaken stitch. Red yarn everywhere, dangling from the park bench, started twisting into knots in the breeze. “Damn these knots.”

She left off unravelling the sweater to untangle the mess, twisting up the spare yarn around her wrist.

That was when she noticed the couple walking toward her along the path.

They were holding hands. Neither said anything. Her long, dark brown hair blew across her face with the same breeze that had tangled her yarn. She tried to untangle it and hold it back with her delicate smooth fingers.

Blue nail polish. She could remember when her daughter used to wear blue nail polish. That was before she had Nicholas last year. After she’d had the baby, she stopped painting her nails. Stopped using make-up at all, really. Post-partum depression. Wouldn’t talk to anyone. Wouldn’t return her phone calls. Beatrice never did understand why her daughter couldn’t just get over it. She’d told her as much last Christmas. That was the last they’d spoken.

“Yes,” she remembered. “That’s why I started this damn sweater.” Maybe her daughter would see that she really did care after all.

She could see as they drew nearer that with this couple, it was the man who was sad. He wore a deep frown and his bottom lip was quivering as they passed by. He caught her looking at him and put his hand over his face.

She looked away as quickly as she could and pretended to go back to her knitting.

But she could hear him as they continued down the path. He was crying.

Beatrice shrugged. “You never know with people,” she muttered.

Then, looking back down at her work, “Where was I? Oh, yes, that’s supposed to be three pearls there.”