The Cross-Stitched Cryptogram

Flash
Jamie L. Sawyers


Photo Credit: Cross-stitch Ninja/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

The needle and thread were like a mallet and a chisel in her hands. Each stitch carved out her long-awaited accomplishment. It was a success she wished she could proclaim to the world. Recording what she had done would be as detailed as the crime. She had single-handedly managed to right a wrong done to her family. Maybe she did not do it the right way, but she was running out of time, and she had made a vow. At 82 years old, she could not spare a single second, so she pilfered the very rare coin, and no one had suspected her.

In fact, she was so unlikely a culprit that she was barely even questioned by the ambitious young detectives investigating the theft. No, they just saw her as an elderly, semi-retired seamstress to the stars, who was hired by a wealthy coin collector to sew a dress for his dog. The coin had been protected by a very high-tech computerized security system that someone like her would normally have no clue about.

“Do you know how to use a computer, Miss Jackson?” one of the officers had asked.

“Not really,” she had laughingly answered. “My great nieces and nephews keep trying to teach me, but I never really get it!” she fibbed.

The officers did not need to know that she could do just about anything on a computer, or that she had been hunting the coin for about sixty years. They also did not need to know that the coin in question originally belonged to her grandfather, and that it had been swindled away from him by the great-great-grandfather of the man who had reported it stolen. The loss of the coin was a great embarrassment to her family, and it was a devastation that her beloved grandfather never got over.

Now that the coin was in her possession, she had to figure out a way to let her family know its whereabouts without telling them. She was smart enough to know not to write everything in a diary under these circumstances. It always gets read by the wrong person at the wrong time, and the writer ends up in jail and the stolen item is returned to the owner. She was not going to risk her family losing that coin again. Therefore, she came up with a clever solution.

She combined two of her favorite hobbies to conceal and one day to reveal the whereabouts of the special coin. She loved working cryptogram puzzles and cross-stitching, so she created a cryptogram that, if solved, would tell where she hid the coin. Then, she used silver metallic embroidery floss to cross-stitch the cryptogram onto black 14-count aida cloth, framed it, and hung it on her wall. She marveled at her handiwork and knew that her grandfather would finally be able to rest in peace.

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Jamie L. Sawyers is a poet, writer, and author from Tennessee. Several of her poems have been published in Nerve Cowboy magazine. She is the author of four volumes of poetry and three word puzzle books. Email: jamiesaw618[at]yahoo.com