Ignoring her sobbing grandchild, Moira’s knobby fingers deftly made a single backstitch. She tugged, ever so gently, and the fabric pulled close again. She inspected her work, seeking any flaw, but there was none. The unraveling threads were invisibly re-bound; the tapestry appeared seamless.
She looked down at the one who’d caused this mess. The girl cried, her empty hands clutching air where moments before they’d held scissors. Turning back to the cloth, Moira peered closer and assessed her repair. Nine stitches saved, preventing a hole in her life’s work.
Moira knew the child had meant to help. She had an aptitude for, and a deep calling to, the Threads. But meddling! It could not be tolerated. She made her granddaughter look at the repair — look deeply, below the surface:
ONE: In St. Louis, Eileen Campbell sat in her doctor’s office with tears streaming down her face. The cancer that had ravaged three years of her life — that had turned her thick auburn hair into a sleek skull, that had wasted her muscles frame while making her simultaneously puffy, like an overripe tomato — was gone. The lab results, and the follow-up ones, had come back completely clear. She dropped her face into her hands and wept.
TWO: Down the river in Natchez, Mississippi, Mae Simmons woke up in the middle of the afternoon. She’d been cringing, waiting for her boyfriend to come home and beat her. As she awoke, her spine straightened. Her head cleared, her eyes sharpened, and her stomach went hard and cold. Thinking logically for the first time she could recall, Mae tossed essentials into a backpack one-handed. Her other arm, still cradled in the sling the EMT had given her yesterday, burned with pins and needles, urging her to work faster. With twenty minutes to spare, she walked out that door forever.
THREE, FOUR, FIVE, SIX, AND SEVEN: Colby Dean Whittaker took a deep breath. The school hallway smelled of old sneakers and disinfectant that leached out of the restrooms where he’d been teased and taunted for three years. His hand, reaching into his pocket ever so slowly, met the coldness of the gunmetal and he shivered. Something within him, something hot and angry, curled up and died. The deep chill of the metal, so like the desolation of his grandmother’s funeral, changed his mind. Instead of walking further, of continuing his plan to waste the gymnasium full of students, he twisted around and headed back outside. He strode to the duck pond, where he threw the gun with all his strength and watched it sink, traceless in the depths.
EIGHT: Carlotta Ruiz weighed the pills in her hand, thinking, Surely this is enough? Isn’t it? Squinting in the too-bright bathroom lighting, she tipped a few more into her palm for good measure. As she did, the phone rang. Again. It had rung a moment before, and she’d let it go to voicemail without even checking the caller ID. She hesitated now, looking from the pills to her phone vibrating by the sink. It trilled again. Carlotta lifted the phone with her right hand, pills clutched tight in her left. This would be her final sign. “I had to call,” came her daughter’s voice, “and say how sorry I am. I love you so much, and I didn’t mean….” Carlotta’s hand opened, releasing the pills into the toilet. Shaking a little, she reached out and pulled the flush lever, while tears blurred her vision.
NINE: A dark shape yowled and raced toward him from the blackness, so Harun Bahir did not step into the alley. The cat brushed by his ankles in a panic, and he stopped, leaning on the wall beside the black mouth of the alley, and listened. The female voice he’d heard a moment before, the scared one, crying softly for help, was replaced by whispered guttural curses of three men as they bitched about the cat ruining their setup. Harun Bahir stepped back, away from the alley’s mouth, and hurried back into the safety of the brightly-lit streets of the city.
A frayed thread waved, pulling Moira’s attention to where it had been cut. Cut! Moira frowned as she pulled out her spindles to find the one with the severed thread. She pulled the roughly-cut thread from her spindle up to the tapesty’s cut end, wet her fingers, and rubbed the ends, twisting them irrevocably together. Then she made the girl look at that repair, as well.
As one being, the staff around the operating table relaxed as it became clear their patient would live. Seiichi Narita had been clinically dead for two minutes, but his heart was beating normally, and he was breathing peacefully again. A nurse cleaned and put the paddles away.
She gave a sharp nod of satisfaction, then looked down her crooked nose to her grandchild, who cried silently beside her.
“What have you learned, then?” she asked, keeping her voice stern.
There was no room for sweetness, not when this child might become the next Moira. After centuries at her craft, the current Moira observed forming patterns and judged them carefully before she wove them into Fate. Her grandchild’s next words would hold weight.
The child sniffed, then gazed up with wide eyes. “Grandmas really do know everything.”
M. E. Garber grew up reading about hobbits, space-travel, and dragons, so it’s no wonder that she enjoys writing speculative fiction, and dreams of traveling the world(s). She used to live near the home of Duck Tape, then near the home of Nylabone. Now she lives near the home of Gatorade. She’s a 2013 graduate of the Viable Paradise Writers’ Workshop. You can find her blog at megarber.wordpress.com.