The Last Shawl of the Bannotow Matriarchy

"Oh my god! WHERE IS IT?!" Jessica screamed. She jumped up from the table knocking over her chair. Everyone in the restaurant turned to stare. David, her date, jumped up from the table as well, partially out of shock and partly out of embarrassment.

"What? What??" He yelled as she scurried under the table.

She popped back up from the other side of the table flushed and breathing heavily. "It's NOT HERE!"

"What? What's not here? what's happening?" David lowered his voice to a near whisper in the hopes she would follow his lead. He scanned the restaurant at all the eyes on them and felt blood rushing to his cheeks. The maitre d' was walking toward them.

Jessica was looking under the table next to theirs, and the people at that table quickly collected their things to leave.

"My shawl! MY SHAWL! Where is it?!" Her eyes were wide and darting frantically around the restaurant.

Before David could respond to her the maitre d', host and two other staff members were upon them, escorting them out of the restaurant. Jessica was more carried out as she screamed and fought them until they placed her outside on the sidewalk.

Out on the sidewalk, crowds of people pushed past them like a river. He scrambled to help her up before she was trampled. She jerked away from his grip and ran back to the window of the restaurant, cupping her hands around her eyes to look in.

"My shawl! My grandmother knitted it while my mother was pregnant with me!"

He stepped back just a little to process this information.

"Oh." he said, "Well, if you had it when we came into the restaurant, maybe..."

"My shawl!" She interrupted him. "You don't understand! It's my life!"

He stepped back a little further from her and looked down at the sidewalk. "I'm... I'm sorry, Jessica. I mean, we've just met." He paused, searching for the right words but saw that she was back at the window and not even listening to him. "I think I need to go."

She didn't acknowledge him. Instead, she poured her purse out on the sidewalk and dropped on to the pile tearing through it.

As he walked away, he heard her scream in pain. He turned back to see her grabbing her left wrist. At first, he thought she was making a fist, but then he realized that all of the fingers on that hand were missing.

She screamed again so loudly that he shuddered and he watched as her entire hand disappeared to the wrist. The river of people started to slow and crowd around her. Some paused to see if they could help, some paused just to see.

If David had turned to look down the alley next to the restaurant, he might have caught a glimpse of the twisted old man crouched in a ball next to the trash dumpster. In his hands was an ornate shawl and with two thin needles, he was meticulously unraveling it.