DIGGING underneath a pile of unused clothing in my room one day last year, I came across a plastic bag containing an assortment of familiar-looking objects. I opened the bag and discovered my long-ago and forgotten cross-stitching projects which I started way back in 1998.

“I’m going to finish this in 10 years time,” I remembered telling my friend Janet who taught me to cross-stitch.

“First work on something small, like cartoon characters that require only about one fourth meter of cloth, then move on to more elaborate designs after,” Janet instructed me.

I paid no heed to her advise because I already have my eyes on a pattern depicting a bride and groom with one flower girl in a light blue motif. The pattern required one whole meter of cloth and yards and yards of multi-colored threads but I had too much confidence that I can do it.

To make it more complicated, I changed the motif which proved much harder because I have to change every piece and color of thread indicated in the pattern.

At first my cross-stitching was so tight, I kept breaking the threads but when I got the hang of it, there was no stopping me. I became a fanatic. Buying patterns, needles and threads became an obsession.

I was so engrossed in finishing my project that I found myself cross-stitching even in bus terminals, in restaurants after eating, before sleeping and immediately after waking up. I even wished I had a few more hands to finish the job faster.

However, I never learned to work as neatly as Janet did. I would only shrug my shoulders in resignation as I look at the jumbled mass of multi-colored threads crisscrossing and intersecting each other. From the back, you cannot determine what design I was actually working on.

I tried to finish the job before a very close friend got married. I planned to give it as a gift on her wedding day but it was harder than I thought.

I was still 80 percent finished with my wedding pattern when my friend’s wedding day came.

And went.

One morning I woke up and found that I lost complete interest in it. Just like that and I felt the urge to start another pattern, this time a fat baby girl blowing on a flower. With the same enthusiasm, I worked on the new pattern day and night until it was 80 percent finished.

And the same sickness hit me.

Three-babies-and-a-legal-separation later, my supposed-to-be wedding gift for my friend slumbered inside the plastic bag 80 percent unfinished.

Only the face of the flower girl and the portion near the neck of the groom remained unfinished but somehow I could not seem to understand the pattern or what was left of it after it was marked, cross-marked, criss-crossed and had grown yellow with age. The same with the little girl design. Only a small portion in her neck and face remain unfinished.

It has been over seven years since Janet taught me how to cross-stitch, and the prices of threads and designs and Aida cloth had quarupled.

I sat down with my creation, started to wind some thread on to test it out and was devastated as one of the now-rusty needle snapped in two.

Uh-uh, too late to buy another needle as it was nearing two o’clock in the morning and besides, it was nearing my usual bedtime. I could feel the cross-stitching bug slowly creeping back into my system once again I wanted to go out and buy a needle but had to wait until the stores open.

I spread the wedding pattern on top of the table and went to sleep with excitement over the prospect of finishing the two projects very soon.

Morning came and when I laid my eyes on the unfinished work on the table, my feet almost gave way and I wanted to vomit with revulsion for there, on top of the bride’s face and all over her white flowing gown are the mangled and bloody remains of the ‘spare parts’ of a big rat, gracefully arranged by our cat I’m sure, to display his accomplishment.

Had it not been for the almost P1,000 I’ve poured for the whole cross-stitch project plus the time and patience, I would have gladly thrown it away.

By now it’s now resting peacefully inside a plastic bag (already washed, of course, not by me but by my mother) and buried underneath a pile of unused clothing. Probably, in another seven years I will be interested to dig it up again.

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