Marianne came back from tucking Charlie in. “I think his blankie needs to be retired soon,” she said. “It may not make it through another wash cycle.”
“Oh no,” Isaac said. “He’s going to be so sad. It’s been such a good blanket. He’s had it since before he was born. It’s even older than Socks.”
“Yes, well, socks hasn’t had to go through the wash nearly as often,” Marianne said.
“Good thing too,” Isaac said. “Cats hate water. We’d probably wake up covered in scratches.”
Marianne laughed. “It’s a good thing his claws are just painted on then.” She sighed. “The blanket wouldn’t get dirty so often if he didn’t insist on wearing it to breakfast.”
“You’re probably right,” Isaac said.
“Well, it’s too late now.” Marianne picked up her book. “Luckily we don’t need to worry about it just yet. I think it might last a few weeks longer.” She found her page and started reading. Isaac picked up his book and joined her.
Unfortunately, two days later, Charlie didn’t notice he was shutting the corner of his blanket in the door. When he started to walk away, the blanket tore, leaving a jagged zigzag gap from corner to corner. Isaac came running when he heard the dismayed yelp.
“Charlie, what happened?” he asked.
“My blankie!” Charlie said. He started to tear up a bit.
Isaac started to put an arm around him and realized that he was still holding his toothbrush. He hugged Charlie with his other arm. “Come on. Let’s take it to Mom and see if she can patch it up again.”
Marianne was in the kitchen rinsing the pot Isaac had used to make the oatmeal. She shut off the water and turned. “Why the sad faces?” she asked.
“My blankie got caught in the door and it tore,” Charlie said.
“Oh dear,” Marianne said. “Let me see.” She examined the tear. “I don’t think I can fix this. The fabric is just too worn out.”
Charlie started to sniffle a little. “Can’t you put a patch on?” he asked.
“It will just tear again,” Marianne said. “Probably while I’m trying to sew it. Why don’t you wrap yourself in it for breakfast one more time and maybe this evening we can give it a funeral.”
Charlie slid into his seat and arranged the torn blanket around his shoulders. Marianne tried to help. Isaac rinsed his toothbrush and put it away and came back. The blanket still wasn’t tucked in quite right.
Isaac tried to help tuck an end under so that the fluffy tear wasn’t tickling Charlie’s face. “Well, that sort of worked,” he said. The blanket managed to untuck itself and slide down Charlie’s shoulder. Charlie giggled. “I spoke too soon,” Isaac said.
The blanket kept trying to resist their efforts to tuck it around Charlie. In the end, they finally managed to get it to stay put. By that point, they were all laughing. They left the house smiling.
By afternoon, Charlie was sad again. “Can I bury my blankie in the back yard so that I can visit its grave?” he asked.
“It’s made out of cotton, so I guess that would be fine,” Isaac said. Charlie looked confused. “Natural fibers should be safe for the animals that live there,” Isaac explained.
“Oh, okay,” Charlie said. “I’ll get my shovel and dig a hole under the tree. You ask mom if we can pick some of her daffodils.”
“She’s more likely to say yes if you ask her,” Isaac said.
“Then tell her its me asking,” Charlie said.
“All right.” Isaac found Marianne. She agreed to donate the flowers for the funeral and picked them herself.
After an appropriately solemn funeral, they went inside for a quiet evening. Charlie had a hard time falling asleep. Isaac read him four chapters from their book, and finally he heard soft snores. He turned out the light and whispered goodnight.
He went to the kitchen for a drink of water. After that much reading, his throat felt really dry. He stood in the dark kitchen that was softly illuminated by the light of the streetlights outside and looked at the tree in the backyard.
Something was moving in the shadows at its base. Was an animal digging up Charlie’s blanket? Isaac stepped closer to the window and looked out. He couldn’t tell what it was. He pressed his face to the glass.
It was the blanket. Somehow, it was pulling itself out of the dirt. Ragged and torn, it rose from the ground at last, suspended from its center by an unseen thread like a Halloween ghost.
As Isaac watched, it began to fade. It grew lighter, and lighter, thinning out like the edges of a bank of fog. Then it was gone.
Isaac opened the door and looked out. The yard was quiet. He walked over to the edge of the grave. The earth looked turned up at the center.
Isaac patted the dirt back down. He wasn’t sure what had just happened. He hoped the blanket was happy wherever it just went. It had been a very good blanket, after all.