One Long Thread

One Long Thread by Belinda Jeffrey

Book: One Long Thread by Belinda Jeffrey Read Free Book Online
Authors: Belinda Jeffrey
Tags: JUV014000, JUV013000
Mum’s religion that bothered me but I could never really articulate – either to myself or anyone else – why it seemed wrong. I just felt this uncomfortable throb, like the feeling you get when someone is dangerous or creepy. And, by comparison, the Aberdeen always had a ready answer and explanation for everything. They never stumbled, like I did. And I could see how that kind of assurance would seem convincing.
    Dear Mum,
    How are you? I hope everything is fine up north and your sewing is going well. I haven’t really told you very much but I’ve been doing a lot of sewing, too. We are the same like that, I think. I like to think I’m like you. I ’ve made quite a few dresses with my sewing machine and Mr Grandy was so impressed with my sketching and advice with . . .
    I was about to write about Mrs Pratson and Mabel and their wedding and I couldn’t. There was no way to write about that without seeming like I was comparing myself to her.
    . . . customers he’s increased the amount of money I earn for some services. Dad was cleaning out the garage today and we found a couple of boxes that weren’t ours. One box contained patterns and fabric and the other one had a red coat, a scrapbook and a book called The History of Silk . Dad thinks the coat and books belong to Grandma Pearl and the other box is yours. What would you like me to do with them? I could send them up to you if you like. Just let me know.
    Sometimes I try to imagine what it would be like to sew in the Darwin heat and I don’t know how you do it. Please tell Sally I said hello. I’ll write to her soon.
    I flopped on my bed and opened The History of Silk. It was a heavy book and I had to rest it against my knees as I started reading.
    The origins of silk were a mystery for thousands of years and, for a time, silk was so highly prized a commodity, ounce for ounce, it equalled the value of gold.
    When the western world finally discovered China, they stumbled upon an ancient and mysterious culture rich with customs, laws and history, like nothing they had ever seen before. Apart from the myriad of new sensations – small women with bound feet, a new mystical religion, rice paddies and exotic foods – people of the West saw the most splendid fashion intricately embroidered and embellished. This fabric emanated a sheen and lustre like no other. The fabric was silk and its secret belonged to a small, white worm, born of a tiny egg.
    Tales of silk lured men from their Western homes, travelling great distances through the exotic Orient to find these little worms. Men gave up everything in the hope of turning a basket of eggs into hanks of gold.
    The legend of silk begins with a fourteen-year-old Chinese Empress, Leizu, in the 27th century BC, drinking a cup of tea beneath a tree. A cocoon fell into her tea and she began to unroll the first golden silk thread, having the idea to weave it.
    I closed the book and decided to write Sally a letter and wrap her birthday present. I included her running ribbons and a much belated apology for taking them, as well as The Magic Faraway Tree, the blue dress – which I had managed to buy back – and money so she could call me from a public phone box. I wrapped the parcel neatly and placed it on my desk, ready to post, beside The History of Silk book. It felt as though I had been holding on to Sally all these years, by the tips of my fingers. Just holding on. She was like a moth, fragile and fleeting. One rough breath, one lurch, one tiny movement of your hand and she’d fly away from you.

    The first night after Mum and Sally left, Dad and I began a tradition involving Charlie’s Chinese Restaurant. And bad jokes.
    At first Dad and I didn’t know what to do with ourselves after their taxi had disappeared at the end of our street. We each sat in our own rooms and the house felt too quiet. Just before tea time Dad appeared at my

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