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Yardsticks: Chapter 16

“If we mess up with this lace,” Yocheved went on, “you know what a loss that will be. You don’t want that to come off your pay, do you?”



he sewing room bustled with activity and noise. The radio blared, sewing machines rumbled, people shouted. I was skimming the schedule to plan the next few hours when Yocheved burst through the door. “Yelena!”

No — not that voice. My head started spinning. She’d just arrived, what was her problem?

And then I remembered: Yocheved was flying to Belgium in a few hours. She was always a wreck before traveling.

I gritted my teeth as I stood up.

Approaching the door, I noticed Anuradha standing behind Yocheved in the doorway, gabbling in Hindi. Yocheved was holding up a piece of fabric. I recognized the front panels of the Kohlman dress.

My mouth soured. Kohlman, Anuradha, and pre-flight Yocheved. This wouldn’t be good.

“You did this?” Yocheved asked. The you was dragged-out and accusing.

I swallowed. “Yes.”

Anuradha exploded. “I told you to start here!” She stabbed her finger at a point on the fabric. “And then go across here.”

My eyes danced. “That’s not what you said, Anuradha. And besides, I can’t start here, we need to balance the weight of the beadwork or it’s going to be dizzying.”

The Indian flung out her arms and let out another stream of Hindi.

Yocheved’s eyes blazed. “Yelena, I believe I told you to do as Anuradha says. Do you know how much this lace costs?”

I didn’t know and I didn’t care. “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about, Yocheved!”

“What are you saying? She’s a professional, top of the line!”

And I was…?

Yocheved caged her teeth. “I thought I made it clear that you should work together with her.”

Together? How was following brainless instructions considered together? This lady did gorgeous beading, okay, but she didn’t know the first thing about gowns.

My throat tightened. They — they didn’t make sense. If I cut the fabric the way Anuradha described, I would ruin her work. She was wrong, it would be a disaster, didn’t Yocheved see? But what was my opinion worth? I had to follow this crazy woman’s instructions because she billed a million dollars an hour.

“If we mess up with this lace,” Yocheved went on, “you know what a loss that will be. You don’t want that to come off your pay, do you?”

I stomped back to my table, blinking furiously. All the seamstresses stopped working to stare at me with pitying eyes as I passed. I saw Kate whisper something to Maria.

When I got to my table, I kicked a roll of lining away and grabbed my cell phone.

A professional, da?

I slunk out the back door and sagged against the wall. I stood there for a moment, breathing. Then I swiped my phone, and with trembling fingers, scrolled through my contacts.

Yocheved’s voice grated in my ears as the phone rang, once, twice. You don’t want that to come off your pay, do you?


“Mrs. Dratler?”


“Hi. This is Yelena Kozlov.”

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 660)


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