The Sweater (A Short Story)

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The bell rang slowly as she walked into the shop. The assistant rushed forward her winning smile plastered over her face, and enquired how she might help. I want to see some balls of wool please. The lady smiled and led her through the many aisles to the furthest corner of the shop, beside the window, where they kept all sorts of sewing materials. She would get everything she wanted here, the assistant assured her.

Sarah looked at the different colour threads hanging as samples on the window, glittering in the winter sunlight. She stared at the various colours, mesmerized. It seemed to her as if someone had collected all the colours of the world and arranged them here for her perusal. And why not? Her Teddy deserved only the best. Again, she remembered his last letter. She had read it so many times, that she could by now recite it word to word. It is so cold here, darling. At night, when the snow falls, we feel as if we would freeze to death.

It was at that very moment that she had decided to knit a sweater for him. Now, again she glanced at the rainbow in front of her – the reds, the blues and the greens. All of them were so beautiful, which one should she buy. The dark red one, like the roses he used to give her everyday; the light blue one, which reminded her of the colour of the sky of the day when he proposed to her, the light yellow like the honeysuckles under which he had first kissed her, the dark emerald of her eyes in whose depths she could see the reflection of her face; the choices were endless like her memories, each a treasured jewel within her chest. Three months, was all that they had spent together. Three months of infinite joy, of tender love and wild passion. Three months before this infernal war started, before he left her. Her lips still tingled from his last kiss; his parting words echoed in her ear, Wait for me, my dear. I will come back soon.

In the end, she chose the white wool. White like the fluffy clouds they used to watch together, and imagine shapes in; white like her wedding dress; white like the rose he wore in his buttonhole on their wedding; white like his teeth, when he smiled; and white like the snow-flakes which fell around her, the day he left.

She knitted the sweater every day, patiently weaving all her love and care with the wool. If she made any blunder, she would go back, undo it and knit again, until the pattern was perfect. She would accept nothing but the best for him. At each stitch, she would imagine his face, his delight when he would see the sweater. He would swing her in his arms, so fast that the wind would race by her hair, and then they would fall down together on the lawn, laughing so loudly, that the sound would carry to the seven heavens.

Finally, after a fortnight, the sweater was ready. Only the last few stitches remained. In her enthusiasm, she pricked her hand with the knitting needle, and watched with growing dismay, as her blood seeped on the sweater, staining it a bright ugly red. Oh, she cried to herself aghast, Teddy’s sweater is spoiled. Unspeakable grief overwhelmed her heart. She could not help the tears running down her face, and she cried, burying her face in the sweater.

The doorbell rang, harshly, discordantly. Hastily, she wiped her face, and dusted down her skirt. She walked with composed steps to the door, and opened it. Two soldiers in uniform stood outside. Her heart fluttered wildly, like a trapped bird and even before they spoke, she knew, and the terrible knowledge, made her knees go weak. She collapsed on the floor, even as the soldier started to speak, We are sorry to inform you………….

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