Tale of a Weaver by Sara Dobbie

A thousand years ago, now, and a thousand years from now, I lived, live, and will live. In a stone cottage on the bank of a hill, I stand in doorways and look out of windows. My hill is covered in wildflowers, and merges with a sandy expanse that stretches a million miles east, and a million miles west. I walk under full moons and burning suns, I wave my hand and cities spring up, towers and steeples gleaming, where nesting birds gather to feed their young. I draw lovers to me through time and space, who pour secrets into my ear with voices of filtered honey. I move on, and wherever I step bridges appear, arching over dreams and nightmares. Deserts become gardens, until I tire and ignite, disintegrating into ashes that fly on bitter winds, to the sill of my own stone cottage.

Once, a man came to tell me he recognized me. “You are a weaver,” he said, “so weave something for me.” Column by column a portico arose, and I flicked a feast with my wrist to lay before him. “This is all bullshit,” he said, “show me what you can really do.” At my refusal, he swept the feast away with rivers of disdain flooding from his eyes. The water eroded my skin and I knew he wanted to strip me of something, so I dropped into the earth at the speed of light. He hurled the name bitch in after me, which buried me alive, but left a thin space separating me from the soil, and I froze with terror.  So I became incorporeal, permeated through sheet-rock and magma, until I bloomed as a wildflower on the hill below my own stone cottage. Stem and petals became flesh and bone, and with a wave I un-stitched all traces of that day.

Another time, a child appeared in the barren field behind my cottage, a small boy who asked, “What do you like to do?” I smiled a bright bouquet into his palms and he told me I must be a witch, which delighted me, so I beckoned him inside for soup. But the boy began to shrink and soften until I carried him in my arms, and his questions became infantile cries. I lay him in an ivory crib at the top of the stairs and went outside to gather stardust for him. I saw him wailing at the window, I opened my mouth to scream as he jumped through it into thin air, and when I caught him he was an embryo receding into nothingness, pulling the fabric of my weave. It tore asunder and I drifted up to a canopy of stars, tiny pinpricks of light, and I wriggled through the wormhole which leads down the universe, right to the back gate of my own stone cottage. In memory of the boy, whom I loved, I birthed the barren field into a forest of fir trees as far as my eyes could see.

When the woman came and stood at my door, she asked me, “What do you really want?” I tried to tell her that I wanted for nothing, but my tongue was a rock and a shroud formed around me, a double sided veil. I struggled to escape, but the gauzy veil was thick, and slowed my limbs. A great tide rose up from the beach and the woman said I must be lonely.  She shook her head sadly back and forth, which caused an enormous wave to overtake me, and I sunk through the surface of the sea in the chrysalis. Slowly the ocean seeped in to fill my lungs, and I evaporated into steam that spread into a cloud. I plummeted into the gutters of my own stone cottage, dripped out of the eaves trough to dampen the steps at my door, which I leave ajar in case the woman returns.

Now and again, I am and will be, stitching strands into streams and creeks, hollowing caves to hide from wandering strangers. If I see an unwelcome wayfarer I unravel my threads, a centrifuge in reverse, for I am everything and nothing. Centuries are seconds as I mend and straighten the fabric of everywhere, until I arrive in the nowhere that is my own stone cottage, on the crest of my hill covered in wildflowers, at the edge of a million miles of sand, bordered on the back by a forest of firs.

Sara Dobbie is a Canadian writer living in Southern Ontario. Her work has appeared in Re-Side Zine, The Spadina Literary Review, and is forthcoming from Crab Fat Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @sbdobbie.

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