Love in the Knots of the Coptic Stitch | Beth Kephart

*Selected for the Best Small Fictions anthology*



It is important to assemble the pieces. It is important to have pieces.


Blank Sheets:

You can make your own paper from your own existing paper. Add pulp to screen, add the dried hulk of flowers, add more flowers, press, press, press, leave in the sun to dry. Be aware the flowers will fade, that the fibers in the new paper are the fibers from the old paper, that whomever you were in the original will be whomever you are. There are no blank sheets.


The story is never the story. The story is the adjacency of story. What comes first. Who decides. What comes next. Who can save it.


The annexation of spooling lengths of exhaustless compromise.

Cover Design:

This is the art of four corners. Asymmetries. Composites. Color. Vary your textures.

End Papers:

Use your imagination—marbling, stippling, tearing, thieving. For best results, you’ll want two. One for when you open the book. One so that you might never close it.


In case they ask you for a reason.


Cutting Board:

So that you can press hard when you cut. So that there will be an annealing when you do.

Xacto Knife:

Damage will be done, especially if the slice is slant.

Metal Ruler:

Nothing will be even. Plumb is an illusion.


You will need to hold tight. You will need tight holding.


When you punch through, punch through until you see the other side.


Keep the blades sharp. Keep them handy.


The promises you promise not to break. The forgiveness when you do.

Curved Needles:

Because every seam is awkward and it is hard to see in the dark.

Work Space:

Their room. Your room. The room in between.

Stitching Pattern—

Start on the inside.
Move to the outside.
Pull taut.
Return to the inside.
Move to the outside.
Pull taut.
Continue, and adjust.
Continue, and adjust.
Hitching the ends as you work.
Knotting in.

Beth Kephart is the award-winning author of three-dozen books in multiple genres, an award-winning teacher, co-founder of Juncture Workshops, and a book artist. She can be found at and