Contest #135 winner 🏆

Home of the Brave

Submitted into Contest #135 in response to: Write about a casual act of bravery.... view prompt

228 comments

Bedtime Western Indigenous

A mom’s job is never truly finished—Elise knew this instinctively when her son was born. For at least the hundredth time, she sat next to his bed in that chair mending his quilt. There was no way of knowing, the day she bought it at a flea market, that it would become her son’s most valued possession. 


To call it a quilt stretched the definition as it was nothing more than a thousand pieces of oddly shaped swatches stitched together, layer after layer, until the whole of it was thick enough to hold in the warmth of a small boy's body as he drifted off to sleep. The person who pieced together this labor of love must have spent countless hours shaping the useless remnants into a usable blanket. Elise felt it was her duty to repair the inevitable rips as an homage to the unknown creator and as a manifestation of her adoration for the little boy who cherished it.


“I love how cool it feels when I first get into bed,” her little man observed the first night he wrapped himself in the old quilt. “But before long, it warms up, and I’m snug as a bug in a rug. Where did you get it?” 


The question was one whose answer was too mundane to inflict on a wide eyed little boy, so Elise stretched the truth just a little. “It was brought over on the Mayflower by the Pilgrims,” she answered to her son's delight. “It’s made from pieces of fabric from all over Europe and is the first blanket used by the first Americans.”


It was just a little white lie, but it was also the beginning of a cherished tradition. As stitches unraveled and as tears ripped the quilt and the little boy's heart, Elise sat by his bed and mended the heirloom. Then she would continue the "true" story of how the quilt had found its way to her son. 


“During the Revolutionary War, your quilt was captured by General Cornwallis and used to keep his legs warm on the cold winter nights.” Elise said, weaving a story as intricate as the blanket itself. “It wasn’t until the surrender at Yorktown that it was returned.”


“Yorktown?”


“Yes, Yorktown,'' she said smiling, “George Washington took it from Cornwallis and used it during his eight years as president.”


“You mean my blanket has been to the White House?” 


“Of course it has,” Elise answered with a wink. “But not because of George Washington, silly. John Adams was the first president to live in the White House.”


“Who then, Mom? ``The little boy asked., “Who took my blanket to the White House?”


“That’s a story for later,” Elise replied, kissing her son on his forehead. “Now you get some sleep, and I’ll continue the story next time.”


Elise, unfortunately, had far too many opportunities to continue the blanket’s tale as her son was given to debilitating headaches. At first, the doctors thought he was prone to systemic migraines, but the truth was much worse. Many nights, too many, the little boy would curl up in pain, his teeth clenched in a faux smile. The headaches were excruciating, only soothed by a cold wash cloth, his mother’s gentle voice, and the telling of the quilt’s tale as he drifted off to sleep. 


There were also many a night where Elise would sit with her son as he slept, meticulously piecing back together the tears that threatened the blanket entirely, wishing there was a way she could also mend her son. The room would be completely quiet save for the sound of Elise’s song. It was something she had done since she was his age. Inadvertently yet intentionally she would let the air slip through her lips, creating a tune just for him that would live for that moment, replaced the next time by one equally beautiful and equally unique.


“As it turns out, the first time the quilt made it to the White House was just after Abraham Lincoln was elected president,” Elise said the next night, continuing the story from where they’d left off. The pain had become more frequent and more intense, requiring more chapters more often. The story's continuation, however, had the desired results, a distraction and a smile.


“Abraham Lincoln, he used my quilt, too?” her son asked, too young to doubt his mother. 


“Of course he did,” Elise responded, tickling her son just to hear him laugh. “It’s a little known fact, but Mount Rushmore was actually created to show all of the presidents who used your blanket.”  


Elise always had a basin of cold water by her side whenever she sat with her son. Very early on she learned that the coolness of the cloth would help quiet the pain in his head. It was her greatest joy to moisten the cloth keeping it cold throughout her story. The little boy’s head still throbbed, but while his mom was telling the story she would gently wipe his forehead with the cold cloth, and it was almost as if he forgot the pain for a time. If all went well, he would fall asleep listening to the tale of his blanket, as sleep was becoming his only relief from the pain.


“Did you know your blanket went to the moon?” Elise asked one day when her son seemed particularly down. “Neil Armstrong may have been the first man to set foot on the moon, but he laid out your quilt so he and Buzz Aldrin could have a picnic.” 


The idea of two astronauts having a picnic on the moon resulted in spontaneous laughter for both mother and son. 


“Is Buzz Lightyear named after Buzz Aldrin?” he asked his mom, as both continued to laugh.


“As a matter of fact he was,” Elise replied with a smile. “If you must know, Buzz Aldrin presented your quilt to Buzz Lightyear as a gift which means your blanket has been…”


“To infinity and beyond!” 


“Exactly,” Elise confirmed as she refreshed his cloth and placed it back on his head.


Day after day she would take her boy to doctors and then specialists and eventually to the hospital. Then, night after night, she would sit by his bed and tell the story of the quilt. Elise did everything she could to stretch out the story, and as each new adventure was passed from mother to son so too was hope, in the only way she knew how.  


The night that she finished the story was, in so many ways, just like most of the other nights. Elise was home in her favorite chair next to her son’s bed. Her breathing was labored and her voice unsteady. “And then I stopped by a flea market on my way home from the store and there it was, your beautiful, wonderful blanket. I knew you must have it, so I scooped it up, paid the nice woman, and brought it home to you.”


Tears filled Elise’s eyes as she sewed the last stitch on the old quilt. Holding it up, she remembered the first time her son covered himself with the blanket. I love how cool it feels when I first get into bed.


“It’s finally fixed. It’s perfect.” Elise said out loud, tears continuing to flow. “I love how cool it feels, too.” 


Summoning every bit of her strength, she lay the beloved blanket on the empty bed in front of her. 


Being a mom is a job that is never truly finished, at least she had hoped so. With nothing else left to do for her son, she sat back in the chair and silently sobbed. 

March 03, 2022 19:56

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228 comments

Shevach Obahor
22:33 Mar 30, 2022

Great story, Love the story writing. It's especially interesting and heartbreaking how she never really got to tell her son the truth.

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Jawad Ali
06:50 Mar 29, 2022

Just stepped in and melted the heart. Thank you for this wonderful story. Congratulations, it just descends with such grace that you have not just written but have contributed, educated at the same time.

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Kate Winchester
16:46 Mar 27, 2022

Wow! This story is beautiful! Congrats on the well deserved win!

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Farida Sherif
09:27 Mar 27, 2022

Incredibly well done, smooth flow

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Gail Meeker
20:15 Mar 23, 2022

This story absolutely pulled every string attached to my heart. I have four children and I can't imagine the pain of losing one of them. Very well written.

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Nyla Herd!
00:08 Mar 23, 2022

Good job with this story, I really enjoyed it.

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Jerrie Jerrard
14:59 Mar 22, 2022

Your story is so beautifully told - it brought tears to my eyes. Congratulations.

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15:42 Mar 20, 2022

It's such a beautiful story! I never made one though, but I'm glad reading this.

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Palak Shah
14:19 Mar 19, 2022

Well done. Congrats on the win!

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Thom With An H
14:39 Mar 19, 2022

Thank you so much.

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Indi Elliott
06:25 Mar 19, 2022

this made me cry very good story and very detailed keep on with these wonderful words and super stories

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Deb Broughton
19:28 Mar 18, 2022

How tender and touching, capturing a mother's love. Wonderful

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Hannah Mitchell
17:30 Mar 18, 2022

Did the boy die-? :<

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Thom With An H
17:42 Mar 18, 2022

He did.

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21:34 Mar 17, 2022

I did not anticipate the ending and it made me emotional. Thank you.

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Thom With An H
22:29 Mar 18, 2022

That warms my heart. Thank you.

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Sarah Kreiger
18:35 Mar 17, 2022

Congratulations on the win! :D

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Thom With An H
22:29 Mar 18, 2022

Thanks so much!!!!

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Fiery Red
03:48 Mar 16, 2022

Beautifully written. The stories of a quilt and the quilt itself were perfect, made out of a thousand pieces, built together. The quilt is a memoir of love and pain for the mother. A much deserved win. Congratulations!!!

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Thom With An H
22:29 Mar 18, 2022

You are so kind. Thank you.

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Story Time
19:33 Mar 15, 2022

This was a heartbreaking and gorgeous story. Well done.

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Thom With An H
19:43 Mar 15, 2022

Coming from you, this is a very high compliment. Thank you!!!

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15:29 Mar 15, 2022

Congratulations! This story was so emotional and I must say very well written.

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Thom With An H
20:33 Mar 15, 2022

Thank you so much!!

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Mackaylah Waibel
15:21 Mar 15, 2022

Wow, the absolutely beautiful and brilliant story it truly is a casual act of bravery to keep a happy face for a suffering loved one. Love it.

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Thom With An H
20:33 Mar 15, 2022

So very sweet, thank you!

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Crows_ Garden
12:36 Mar 15, 2022

Well I'm tearing up now- Your story is beautifully written.

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Thom With An H
20:34 Mar 15, 2022

This makes my day, Thank you so much.

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Kori Willows
07:22 Mar 15, 2022

Hey, I love your story so much. Would you have a problem if I rewrite this story by giving you credits. Not for economic purposes of course. Maybe just like post it on ig

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Thom With An H
09:58 Mar 15, 2022

I’m not sure I understand exactly what you would be doing. Could you give me more information? And thank you for the kind words.

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