Experiment Number Five-Forty-Two | Meg Harris

I knew this woman, some called her contrary. She was my neighbor; I called her Mary. Bill called. Mary had called him.

She said, “I’m getting messages in my teeth. They’re after me and you, Bill.”

This woman I knew, mother of two, ex-wife of one, she called my brother and do you know what she said?

She said, “Bill you have to help me! The aliens are talking to me! The government is talking to me! Through my teeth! My divorce is final and I’m making a crazy quilt. Oh yeah, and they said you’re next Bill.”

Mary’s marriage was a good marriage until she decided to improve it. Mary and Dave, Mary decided, needed therapy. Dave fell hard for the therapist and Mary got the kids.

It was all a preparation, like the making of a quilt. Mary was textile. She was fabric. Okay—she was remnants, but she was a part of the plan. Hemmed in, you might say. You might say, stitched up.

Well, what about the children, you ask? They were boys, of course, miniature Davids. And when they went to visit their daddy and his therapist for the weekend, the big David asked the little Davids, “How is your mother?”

And they’d answer, “You know, dad. She’s acting kinda strange. She’s painting flowers on the porch. She’s hanging foil-paper in the foyer. She’s painting the woodwork, dad.”

“Actually, dad, I’m worried,” said the twelve-year-old little David.

“Me too,” said the ten-year-old little David.

“And furthermore dad, I think mom is, well—she’s just not well! She’s nutty as hell! Are we going to the movies? Will you buy me an iPhone 8? Dad, will you take me? Will you take me? Can I live with you?”

And the twelve-year-old little David said, “Yeah dad, me too.”

So Dave went to a Judge.

He said, “Your Honor, I knew this woman; I married her too. She was okay at first, then she just kinda blew. I tried sir, my therapist tried, too. And I don’t want my boys with her. And neither would you if you knew what I knew.”

Dave said, “She paints flowers on the floor of the porch. She grows herbs, Judge. And what’s even worse, when my sons come home from their school, she is dancing in the living room like a crazy fool. Or else she is sewing a quilt. Look at her eyes, Judge. Do you see them say tilt?”

The Judge looked into the eyes of this mother of two, he said, “Okay, I’ve heard from him, now let’s hear from you.”

Mary said, “I do this one stitch that looks like bird’s feet or maybe claws. I’ve stitched it all using just that stitch.” And after a pause, she said, “I’ve stitched and stitched, like a mad quilting fool. The yellow is sewn and the orange, too. But I’ve not found it in me to sew up the blue.”

The Judge said, “Mary,” in a most soothing voice. “I have a tear in my robe and I’m sure it’s your choice, but will you sew it? Will you mend it for me? And oh, by the way, I’m giving David custody.”

And Mary said back, in a yet milder tone, “I’ll be happy to sew it, Judge, sir. I’ll have lots of time. I’ll be all alone.”

It was planned that way. I read the script. Planned and saved up for, like next summer’s trip. The government planned it. The aliens too. They called it Experiment Number Five-Forty-Two.

And such a relief! Now they can control women using only their teeth! I knew this woman. Her story is true. She stitched in all colors—green, red, yellow, and orange, too.

And in the end, she stitched up the blue.

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