When he was two, his mother started the blanket. She used the heavy needles her mother handed down to her when she was a young girl, the same needles her grandmother and her grandmother’s mother had used for their children’s blankets. She gathered the yarn from various places and markets, but always in the colors of rust and mustard-yellow. She followed no pattern or design except for what her mother had taught her and what her own heart felt to be right.
When he was four she put him in the blanket; just for a short time, to let him grow used to its weight and feel. The blanket was heavy and scratchy, pulling his young body down and making angry rashes on his skin. He tried to push it away at first, but his mother only smiled and wrapped it tighter.
Later, he grew accustomed to the weight, and the irritation became an odd comfort. He took to wearing his blanket everywhere.
When he was older, he sought his first job. The manager of the town’s largest industry took an immediate liking to him. “That is a wonderful blanket,” he said, admiring the stitches and the weight of the hem as he held it in his hands. The manager told his assistant, “I think he will do just fine; perhaps a place in Human Resources.” The assistant wrote a note and the young man had a job.
Later, when he was older, he looked for a wife. The girl next door took an immediate liking to him. Her parents had always approved of him, particularly in light of his blanket. “If he should continue to wear that blanket, you should marry him,” they told their daughter. He did, so they were.
The years went by; the man and his wife had a child. His wife inherited the needles from the man’s mother and she began to make a blanket for their little girl.
Later, when he was an old man, he looked for understanding. The blanket was now old and frayed, its red and yellow colors faded to a dull gray. He would sometimes take the blanket off and look at it, hold its weight in his hands, brush his hoary hands along its worn remains. He was often heard to sigh at such times and look to his daughter, her blanket tucked neatly under her chin, irritating and pulling her young body down with its weight.
“Don’t bury me in this,” he told his wife near the end. But this was foolish, he thought a moment later. What did it matter if he were buried in the blanket or not?
And then the cold wind rendered his core…and he pulled his blanket close without thinking.