Sinead Delaney: “Needing to Knit”

Needing To Knit

I knitted another you, a tinier you, tiny for a variety of reasons. I wanted to make you big enough to hug but not so big that I couldn’t conceal you in my handbag. I couldn’t knit your feet, I hope you don’t mind. It seems strange to see you now, staring at me judgementally through your one button eye. I knitted you baby blue so you could be kind, like I imagined you were. I know you are calming because you’ve shushed me in my dreams. I’ve screamed out and tried to clutch you.

“Ssssh!” you hushed, your face scrunched up tight in disgust. You hated me then but that’s alright. I understand.

The room is scattered with many yous, all half-finished and crumpled on the floor. I wanted my first, and only you to be perfect. I know you wanted a body. I can feel your burning resentment following me from room to room. I couldn’t give you a body so I knitted you this. 

I’m regretting the colour now. It seems cold and reminds me of the sky, the vast space above me that jeers when I look up and try to look up and search for you.  I know you’re there but the sky has eaten you up. Some time, some place I will forget to look up and you will float by. You’ll think I don’t care. I care that you care whether I care, if you do. I’m just finding it tiring to search the sky.

Once you crawled on my bed and my chest filled with a sweet ache. You left as soon as I felt you, but I know you were there. If you return, I’ll still be sorry, I won’t act as if all was forgiven. You can hate me, as long as you stay.

I wanted to have you but I couldn’t. I sometimes wonder if my fear made you leave, before you were ready, and the thought makes me ashamed, that my baby couldn’t have a body.

Please accept my offering, Live in the doll. Even if you don’t move, I’ll know if you’re there. I’ll take you to the park and round the shops. I won’t just leave you in a shoebox.

You’ll be my doll. My tiny, knitted you.


Sinéad Delaney is 30 and from rural Ireland. She enjoys languages and writing. She also enjoys stargazing when cloud cover allows. After lockdown, she hopes to go to beer gardens in the sun, and walk around the shops without fogged up glasses. “Needing to Knit” first appeared in Lockdown BabyBabble.

Pieper Roderick: “Ashtray Memories”

Ashtray Memories

The insistent smell of cigarette smoke has always given me nostalgia, not for my father, who had never had a cigarette in his life (after tenth grade), but for my uncle, who had smoked a pack every day (after tenth grade). I loved the smoke, silver like his hair, exhaled like a whisper, like a secret, like the punch line of a joke my father would have said I was too young to hear. He would glower at my uncle who would look back, sheepish eyes over a wolfish smile so you knew exactly who was wearing whose clothing.

The nostalgia isn’t worth walking behind this old man on the sidewalk as he meanders in a lazy zigzag. I try to scoot past him, but I’m worried I’ll burn myself on his cigarette. I guess memories are like that, impossible to dodge past without singeing yourself.

My uncle is smoke now. Cremated. You are what you breathe. My father caught me in tenth grade burning a cigarette. He yelled at me for it, but my mom told him that he was being too hard on me, that I was grieving, growing, going through a phase. I didn’t feel like explaining that I just wanted to smell him again, that the end glowed like his eyes catching the porch light and tossing it my way. America’s pastime. Passed time is all I want back, when he would finish a final story and stab out the stub of the cigarette in an ashtray, as full as my head was of memories. He’d give me a final hug, smelling stronger than ever, and send me home on my way.

I look closer at the man in front of me. Hair silver like smoke, built like my uncle. Suddenly I don’t want to pass him. If I pass him, I’ll see his face, but this way maybe I can tell myself I’m following my uncle’s ghost through the night, through one final, stolen night before he pats me on the head and sends me across the street to go to bed, walking past my father whose nose wrinkles at the smell of cigarette smoke still leaking off of me. How like my uncle to cheat death for a single night, just to give me another story.


Pieper Roderick grew up in India and Indonesia before moving back to the United States where he was born. He attended university in Florida where he still lives, teaching high school English. His favorite color is purple, and all of his uncles are still living, though many of them do smoke.