The Cutting Table

By Patrice Sarath

As soon as you walk in we know you don’t belong here. This is our house, our time, mid-morning on a weekday. We continue browsing the shelves for notions and fabric, clutching coupons and 50% off offers, but we cast sidelong glances at one another, predators sensing prey.

Our territory.

You can have the weekends, when amateurs like you crowd the aisles, poke the yarns, having decided on a Thursday night that you want to start knitting like all your friends. Or you handle all the paintbrushes and squint over the paint, only to buy the wrong ones. You have a closet full of abandoned crafts.

Yes, Saturdays are yours. Tryers. You’ll try decoupage.

But here you are on a Tuesday at 10:15, blundering in as you try to suss out where to go for whatever bit of wood or stencil or beads or frame or stickers you are looking for on this unexpected day off from whatever important job you have.

We watch you. Oh yes, we do. You don’t even see us, do you? You dismiss us, because you think we are not to be taken seriously, those of us who craft on weekdays.

You don’t see the smiles we share behind your back, as you roll your eyes at the doodads and the tchotchkes. You don’t see us accidentally-on-purpose fall in behind you.

Herding you.

Surprised, you look up, when you see where you are.

In fabrics.

Where there is a group of us at the cutting table. We are in place now, next-in-line numbers in one hand, rolls of muslin and cotton and chiffon in our baskets, waiting.

The scissors run through fabric with a whisper of menace.

You walk through the aisles of fabric and think, I could sew.

You contemplate the velvets and the satins and the rayon and the wool, and we wipe the bit of wetness at the corner of our mouths. The waiting is excruciating, but also, almost the best part.

And you choose. A plain red cotton blend– it doesn’t matter. It’ll stay in its plastic bag at the back of the hall closet until it goes to Goodwill when you Marie Kondo your house in six months.

We are all there. We are all waiting, but you don’t see us. You just see the empty cutting table, the girl with the scissors and the apron.

You plunk the material down on the cutting table. You ask for a yard. The girl looks as if she wants to say something, but gives a tiny shrug, and with a practiced movement, rolls out the fabric and smooths it flat.

We move in. We don’t need words to convey our disgust. We tsk, or sigh, or flounce, or yank our baskets around out of the way. You look up, startled, as you realize the disorganized group around the cutting table was actually a line that you just barged past.

You start to speak, but it’s too late.

When we cut, we don’t draw blood, but we are deadly just the same.

The End

Copyright 2019 Patrice Sarath. Please do not copy or share.