Monday, May 28, 2012

The Ace of Spades

A while back, Jenna from Sew. Happy. Geek. posted up a mini quilt challenge.
It's called Play.

The idea was to pick a playing card and translate it (however you saw fit) into a mini quilt.
I toyed with the idea of picking a card at random.
(I still have a plan for the Queen of Hearts.)
I asked the Pirate, who likes metal.
He immediately said "The Ace of Spades" because of the Motorhead song.
While a mini of Lemmy might be awesome, it was beyond my skills.
A spade seemed fitting, though, as I was teaching traditional card games to a group of kids at the time.  My partner taught Hearts, and I taught Spades.
So, Ace of Spades it was!

I researched the card.  Turns out it's the Death Card.  (I've dabbled with tarot, but never made the link back to the original deck of cards.)
Also, a happy accident.  I have a short story I've been writing with/for my students featuring Death.  As a character.  He's a man in black.

Here's my quilt.  I tried reverse applique, which I had never done before.  WOooo.
I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

Play Challenge, Ace of Spades
Play Challenge, Ace of Spades
Play Challenge, Ace of Spades

Here's my story.  I haven't finished it because I still have to grade a stack of my students' short stories.  They've asked me to post the final version, so it will get done this month, probably after all my grades are in.
Here's the story so far.  It doesn't have a title, but I'm open to suggestions.

The wind howled as the cloaked figure strode through the trees. He moved like a shadow, graceful, almost dancing in the half light.
Though the wind tugged at his hood, his face bore no signs of the cold or discomfort. He creeped. First in light, then in darkness. Neither seemed wholly pleased with his presence. A gesture of his hand and the wind ceased suddenly. And in the stillness, with the darkness creeping over the land, he came.

The doorbell rang, followed immediately by a knock at the door.  The bell, slightly out of tune echoed through the house.  The little girl, clad in a red skirt, a flowered shirt, and two pigtails answered the door.

“Dad!  There’s someone at the door!”

“I’ll be there in a second, honey.  Who is it?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Well, ask!”

The girl turned to the figure and asked, “Who are you?”

The cloaked figure, in a voice almost too low to hear, murmured, “That is complicated.  I’m here for William McCaffrey, your father.”

“He says he’s here for you!  His name is Compi Cated.”


“Compi Cated.  That’s his name!”

“Actually, that’s not what I said,” interrupted the figure in black.

“But that’s what you said.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

“But it’s what you said.”

The man in black cleared his throat and tried to regain his composure. “I really need to see your father.”

The girl turned, angling herself toward the stairs, “DADDDDDDDDDDDD!”

“I’m coming!!!”

Her father came down the stairs, adjusting his T-shirt as he came.

“I’m sorry to keep you waiting.  I just got back from the gym.  Who are you?  Are you selling something?”

“In a manner of speaking.  My name is not important.”

“I’m sorry.  I’m not really interested in joining another religion.”

“What?  Um, that’s not what I’m here for.”

“What are you here for then?”


“Huh?  Me?”


As her father appeared puzzled, the little girl tugged at her pigtail, twirling the straggling ends around her finger.

“What would you want me for?  Are you some kind of recruiter?  Is this a sweepstakes?  Because I’m really not interested.”

“I, you see, I….I am Death.  I’m here for you.”

Her father blanched.  “Is this some kind of a sick joke? It’s not really funny.”

“It’s not.”

“But Death isn’t real.  It’s not a person, certainly.”

“Why do you assume that?”

“I don’t know.  It just seems like something from a fairy tale.  I mean, really.  Death is an event….not a person.”

“I’m not really a person.”

The little girl tugged hard on her left pigtail.  “But you look like a person.”

“I’m not.”

“But you look like one.”

“I’m not.”


The man in black sighed.  “I’m not.  It’s just true.”

“Well, even if you are, why are you here for my dad?”

“He’s on my list.”

“Uh huh.  Right.  Let me see.”

“It’s not an actual list.  It’s a list that appears for me to see.  It’s not something I can hand to you.”

Miranda turned to her dad, who sputtered,  “Sir, you’ve given us no evidence that you are who you say you are or that you are here for why you say you’re here.  So, I’d kindly ask you to leave my house.  Right now.”  He pushed forward to usher the man in black from his home.

“I wouldn’t touch me, if I were you.  Not even if you think I’m not who I say I am.  The kiss of death is a thing of myth.  Just my touch would be enough to sever your soul from your body, if my intention is that it do so.”


“Daddy, don’t touch him.”

“Well, then I’ll ask you again to leave, sir.”

“I could say that you have no choice in the matter.  But, I’m slightly ahead of my schedule.   I’ll be back in a few hours to claim your soul…and I’ll give you time to make arrangements for her,”  the man in black nodded toward the little girl.  “I know her mother has already been claimed.”


“You heard me.”

“I did.  I just don’t believe you.”

“Believe or not.  I will return.”

The man in black swept his cloak around him.  The wind, as if on cue, swirled leaves in his wake.  He stepped sideways and vanished into the shadows.

“Kind of a melodramatic exit,”  Miranda muttered.

“Shhh.  He’ll hear you.”

“What does that matter?” she asked.

“He doesn’t know who you are…or he’d never have acted as if you were an ordinary child.”

“I see.  We are planning something, daddy?”

“Yes, yes, my dear, we are.”  His voice dropped to a murmur.  The two figures sat at the kitchen table, filling out their plan.  At the end of the hour, Miranda nodded, pigtails bobbing.  Both figures separated and went in search of supplies.

Death, meanwhile, bided his time.

The next night, the man in the black cloak returned.  At the doorway, he hesitated.  This didn’t feel right.  He sighed.  He had a job to do.  Shaking his head to clear it, he raised his hand to knock on the door.  Before his knuckles could rap it, the door opened, two beady eyes and pigtails greeted him.

“Hi.  We’re been waiting for you.”  She pivoted.  “DADDDDDDDDDYYYYYY, he’s back!!!!!”

She turned, pigtails flipping behind her.  He sighed again, stepped over the threshold, muttering to himself that this job was thankless and never ending.  Perhaps he should retire sooner rather than later.  Ah, who was he kidding?  Death was his business; it was all he knew.  Who knew if the unknown would make him happier or less?  Nevertheless, the nagging feeling that tugged at him, that told him something was off, returned.

The girl had stroke without hesitating into the kitchen, and she was presently perched on a kitchen stool, peering at him again.  Her father, clad in an apron that said “Kiss the Cook” put the finishing touches on a plate of food.

“We were just eating dinner.  A last meal, so to speak.”  The father laughed nervously.

“Ah, yes.”  Like he’d never heard that before.  

“Are you hungry?” The girl perked up.  “I know I am.”  Before he could blink, she’d snatched up one of the plates and grabbed a fork.

“Yes.  I may be marked for death, but I haven’t lost my manners.  Can I offer you a plate?  We’ve got dessert as well.”

Ah, the smell.  It smelled divine.  If the man in black was capable of salivating, he should be.  Miranda cocked her head, watching the man’s body language.  Ah.  He shifted, angling himself slightly toward the plate.  His nostrils twitched.  Yes, he was hungry…or at least interested in the dinner.