[This might be part of my upcoming #RiverNovel  .  I wonder if it is too detailed/technical.]

"My grandmother taught me to sew."

I don't know anything about his growing up. I pull up a stool and pay attention.

He had threaded his needle with two strands of thread for strong stitches. At the end of the seam, he secures his work by taking an extra stitch with one strand, and tying it in a knot with the other strand. Then he tucks both ends inside. He cuts his next length of sewing thread long enough to sew for a while, but not so long that the friction from the eye of the needle will cut the thread before he is done with the seam.

I watch his curved needle work back and forth, taking several small stitches close to the cut edges before he pulls the thread taut so the two sides join. I marvel as the seam disappears. He pulls on the two sides, working them up and down to show me that the stitches don't reveal themselves.

I used to sew. When I was a teenager, I used red fake fur to line a jacket. After I machine stitched each seam, I had to go back and use the tip of a dull needle to pull the fur's strands out of the seam. They had been bent across the stitching line to the wrong side. When I had gotten all of the fuzz to the right side of the stitching line, then I had to shave the fur off of the fabric on the hidden side of the seam, to remove the bulk. His technique was much simpler.

I look at him with appreciation for this lesson. I stand and walk to the door.

"Where are you going?"

"Back to the house to read one of the books that I brought."

"You are a seamstress. You can finish this seam."

He wants me to work on his project? "Oh, no, I'm not that good. I do some hand sewing, but not like this."

"It's not that hard. Come back and finish this one up. I'll get another one out."

I try to find a way to get to my feet to go to the house. My stomach cramps. I grab the doorknob to help me stay upright as the room sways. He has gone to the walk-in cooler. My rubbery legs move me back to the stool. I look at the squirrel that he was working on, and close my eyes to stabilize the wobbly room. I take a deep breath, open my eyes, reach out my hand, and open my fingers to pick up the squirrel. Its arms and legs are sticking out at weird angles. I grasp the squirrel with one hand, and the needle with the other. I settle my sitz bones on to the hard stool, my feet flat on the concrete floor. The fluorescent light adds to my jitters. I hold my work toward the window so I can use as much of the remaining daylight as possible.
He returns with a couple more squirrels. One is a cleaned skin. The other is in a bag, recently dropped off, labeled for the nature center.

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