First Memory

Our landlady on Ash Street was Mrs Morvic who I remember as having flaming orange hair, bright red lips, and unnaturally surprised eyebrows. One day she tried to teach me to say “Fred” which was the name of her boyfriend who was home on leave from the U.S. Navy. I knew without a doubt that Mrs Morvic was saying his name incorrectly because my step-mother had a basket filled with a million spools of thread in many colors which she used to sew and mend my droopy cotton dresses. My step-mother had shared with me the secret that tiny gremlins lived in a silver cubby-hole directly under the stitching plate of the old treadle Singer, which cubby-hole some people called a bobbin case. Even though I never once caught sight of a single gremlin down there, it didn’t shake my certainty that a whole family of magical gremlins did in fact live in that silver cubby-hole. Neither was my certainty shaken by Mrs Morvic’s insistence that her boyfriend’s name was Fred, and not “thread.”


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