When Daisy was seven years old — and untouched by the crippling fear that would later narrow her life down to nine hundred square feet — going with her grandmother to the little yarn store downtown was one of her favorite things in the world.
Daisy loved everything about Knit Me with Your Best Shop and the weekly meetings there of Grandma’s knitting circle. She loved the soft murmur of the women and the clicking of their knitting needles. She loved the store’s owner, Mrs. Nancy, who had an endless supply of hugs and peppermint candies. She loved the way all of the old ladies fussed over her. Most of all, Daisy loved the yarn.
Walking into Knit Me with Your Best Shop was like climbing into the belly of a fuzzy rainbow. Neat, diamond-shaped cubbies lined the walls from top to bottom, and each cubby was packed with a different color of yarn. Mrs. Nancy let Daisy play with the colorful skeins as much as she wanted, as long as she didn’t unravel them and she put everything back where she found it when she was done.
On the day of The Incident — the day she would revisit over and over again in nightmares and therapy sessions for the rest of her life — Daisy sat cross-legged at the back of the store, organizing black and yellow balls of yarn into tidy rows like the stripes of a bee. She was so deeply engrossed in her project, she missed the beginning of the end for the women in the knitting circle.
It was Grandma’s exclamation of “Goodness gracious!” that got her attention. Daisy turned to see her grandmother shaking her head and half-laughing in disbelief. The scarf Grandma had worked on for many careful hours was now heaped at her feet in a pile of unraveled squiggles, like a mass of furry, brightly colored worms.
Then, all of the women were crying out in surprise. Baby booties and hats drooled from the ends of knitting needles, puddling on the floor in shapeless tangles. Mrs. Nancy’s hideous hand-made Christmas sweater gleefully ribboned off of her body, leaving her large, no-nonsense bra in plain sight. Within seconds, the carpet beneath the knitting circle’s feet was covered in wild snarls of unraveled yarn.
The skeins in the cubbies that lined the walls began exploding, flying through the air like a storm of streamers. Daisy lifted up her hands, dancing and giggling as the rainbow of yarn rained down on her. She didn’t understand what was going on, but she was delighted by the silly chaos.
The creature that crashed through the picture window at the front of the shop shattered Daisy’s laughter. Her brain frantically tried to make sense of what she was seeing, snagging on the nonsensical idea that she was watching a cartoon.
There certainly was something cartoonish about the strange being. It was a large brown ball covered in thorns that nearly brushed the ceiling. A pair of googly eyes glared from amid the spikes poking out of its round body in every direction. Its mouth was a jagged line, clumsy and simplistic in shape, like a child had drawn it. It reminded Daisy of the jack-o-lantern she had carved for Halloween with her father’s help. By far, the most cartoonish thing about it was its ridiculous arms. They were stubby, useless things, jutting out from its sides like thin sticks. To Daisy, it looked more like a Pokémon than a monster.
The women in the knitting circle were as stunned as Daisy, paralyzed by confusion as they struggled to understand what was happening. Perhaps those few seconds of stupefaction were what cost them their lives. And perhaps nothing would have changed a bit if they’d immediately tried to flee. Daisy instinctively crawled beneath a mound of yarn at the back of the store, hiding herself.
The thorny monster rolled toward the women, becoming more colorful with each rotation of its body as yarn tangled on its thorns. Afterwards, Daisy watched this scene play out over and over again in her nightmares. In her dreams, she screamed, “Run! Run!” instead of quietly hiding — but everyone always died anyway.
One of the knitters tried to sprint toward the door, but her feet snarled in the thick drift of yarn on the floor, tripping her. She made a gruesome sound as the spiky creature ran right over her. She stuck to its thorns, her blood darkening the cheerful mats of yarn already trapped there.
Mrs. Nancy flung her arms in front of her face in a pitiful attempt at defending herself as the monster smacked into her. Its thorns impaled her body in multiple locations. A woman tried to dash around the creature, but it changed direction, catching her on its spikes as well. It barreled through the knitting circle like a bowling ball colliding with pins in a perfect strike.
It managed to catch Daisy’s grandmother in its mouth before she became stuck to its burry body like the others. Her entire torso disappeared between its jaws. Grandma’s twitching legs stuck out of its maw like meaty antennae.
Soon, the beast’s movements were wobbly and uneven, its body festooned with too much yarn and too many dead old ladies. It sucked Grandma’s legs into its mouth like noodles and let out a gusty belch.
From under the pile of yarn at the back of the store, Daisy could see its googly eyes narrow with frustration. Its ridiculous little stick arms spun uselessly as it tried to dislodge the tasty morsels stuck to its thorns. It rolled from side to side, roaring and flailing, managing only to skewer the bodies more firmly onto its spikes. After a few minutes, it gave up and lurched through the broken window, disappearing.
Daisy didn’t come out until the monster had been gone for a long time.
In the ensuing months and years, a morbid fear of yarn and knitted objects coiled around her like a boa constrictor. Agoraphobia squeezed her existence down to a sliver, until her apartment and her therapist’s office were the only places she could stand to be.
In a way, Daisy never came out of Knit Me with Your Best Shop at all.
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