THREAD • by Tim Boiteau

I noticed a loose thread on the collar of her blouse — god, I can’t stand that — and I began to pull on it, couldn’t help myself, couldn’t not do it. “Leave it.” She slapped at my hand, but I ignored her.

Just kept pulling and pulling until the collar had vanished, a handful of delicate thread piled up in my arms.

“You’ve done it now.”

The blouse looked a complete mess, so I continued pulling until it had vanished completely, a soft red pool of thread around us, and I discovered the thread had been entwined with her skin, and now a hair of that was loose, sticking out of her wrist.

I looked into her eyes. She was furious, shaking her head. “Don’t you dare. This was supposed to be a romantic evening together.” Candles, wine, a chocolate fondue.

But I just had had had had to. A tiny tug — and to my surprise her skin began to unravel. I had always noticed she was soft, but had no idea it was so wooly inside. As the warp and weft of her skin loosened, I could see that even the fat and blood and bone were also fabric, everything woven together so intricately, you really had to lean in close and have a good study of it before you noticed the pores, the tiny imperfections where the sewing had not been so seamless.

Her arm was practically gone, just a pile of string and wool, before I looked up at her again and wondered why she let me continue. Just as I was stuck unraveling her, she could only shake her head back and forth, tsk tsk tsking me.

“I’m so sorry,” I said, “but I can’t stop. You understand, I’m sure, but I must know what happens.”

She continued shaking her head no, and I went to work. Taking her apart was surprisingly easy; the whole process only took about ten minutes. And I was thorough. Wanted to make sure she was completely totally utterly reduced to string. And at the end, on the rug by the couch was the strangest mass I’ve ever seen — white and red and peach and black and gray and greenish-blue (her eyes), a beautiful rainbow explosion, as if someone had gone wild with cans of silly string.

But the result was not as satisfying as I had hoped. You see, the thread of her thigh was connected to the couch.

Now I’m going to have to unravel you as well, couch.

Half an hour later I was left with another strange mass, this one mostly beige and white. And wouldn’t you know it? The couch was connected to the rug.

I began to sing as I tugged on it: “The blouse bone’s connected to the… girlfriend bone. The girlfriend bone’s connected to the couch bone. The couch bone’s connected to the rug bone.”

I was hot and sweating, but I kept on my jacket and tie. I worked tirelessly: first the rug, then the walls, the pictures, every piece of furniture, the window, even the scene beyond the window — the sea at night — amassing a hill of thread of every color and shade imaginable — Crayola angel hair — and I was amazed to discover that the last thread connected to my ankle.

“Of course!” I shouted at the nothingness that surrounded me, at the giant eyes staring at me from beyond all that nothing, at their giant hands waiting to lift me up. “Why should I be any different? Why shouldn’t I be made of the same stuff as everything else? Why shouldn’t I be stitched together with the same shoddy workmanship?”

And by now you must surely have guessed that when I find a loose thread, I pull on it, even if it will be my undoing.

Tim Boiteau lives in Michigan with his wife and son. He is a Writers of the Future winner, Pushcart nominee, and author of the dark fantasy novel The Drummer Girl.

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