Mother knew how to escape the world with embroidery floss and fabric. We lived in a room with no windows, but it didn’t matter; she made her own. She stitched us portals to forests gleaming in shades of emerald and to shimmering lakes full of sailboats. There was one that led to the Amalfi coast, with its rows of houses like colorful little boxes, and one that took us to the ancient streets of Jerusalem. Her work glowed with its own light on every inch of the walls, in framed squares, on flowing curtains, even rippling down her body.
I liked to watch her while she worked. She would spend days designing, drawing, experimenting, picking out just the right fabrics. And then she would thread her needle with a glowing strand of light and begin.
Mother ran away from her family before I was born. Sometimes Grandfather came looking for us, and when he did, Mother would set down her needle and escape with me through one of her windows. I would look down and see my skin suddenly textured by silk stitches, and look up into a world made entirely of string. Deep into her realm we would wander, away from the opening back into our little chamber, where Grandfather and his men tore apart the room in search of us.
Mother never told him what she could do. She liked to remind me of this. The two of us—we would be the only ones ever to see the sun glowing in a silk sky, or pray in a chapel with stained glass windows made with thread that glowed like fire.