By Tony Simmons
The ancient weaver works her loom in darkness, though the morning sun warms her face. A girl, not her daughter, sits beside her, invisible but for the scent and sense of her presence, a mass with little gravity and no voice. The child feeds the crone’s dry fingertips the threads from spools arrayed on a wooden rack like rainbow pools as the weaver requests them.
”Give me the blue of the sky on a summer’s morning,” says the weaver. ”The sun not yet at zenith, as it is now. No clouds or haze. The blue of an infant day.”
Taking the thread from the girl, the weaver feels its texture, recognizes its touch upon calluses that time has smoothed from the youthful swirls once etched in her skin like the weaving of a fleshy fabric. She nods, feeds it into her loom. Flexes her back, moves with the machine, building visions she glimpses only in her darkness, visions only the unseen child can confirm.
”Give me the emerald of the shallows,” the woman says. ”Waveless. A reflecting pool fashioned from crystal, revealing the sugar carpet where stone crabs scuttle. The emerald of a swimmer’s salty perspective.”
Once more, the girl delivers the thread into the old weaver’s grasp, and she in turn provides its thin materials to her contraption, working the narrow hairs into wide swaths of texture and hue until drops of sweat run off her nose and the day’s light softens upon her head.
”Give me the white of ghosts, of a virgin’s wedding dress, a saint’s halo,” she says. ”White of sugar, white of salt, white of quartz or bone bleached by the sun of a billion years.”
The weaver takes the thread she receives into her fingertips, and she pauses. The texture is incorrect. She sniffs the material, gathers a clump of it rolled like webbing in her palm and strokes it against her sunken cheek. She drops it in the empty, black space between herself and the girl, feels the cool of evening descend as the sun disappears, Apollo abandons his orbit.
”Girl, this is not the white thread I wanted,” she says. ”This is not my thread at all. What are you trying to do? What game is this?”
The darkness is quiet, though she senses the child still sitting beside her, like a breath in the night. The weaver waits as the air turns cool on her face, her fingers go cold, and the ache in her bones becomes a steady moan only she can hear.
”Try again, child,” she says. ”Find me the thread though your sight be rendered black as mine.”
Something moves then. A sound of air and soft contact, of wood scraping. The old weaver knows the noise like she knows the cry of her own muscles – thread in the loom, the sweep of the arm, the action of the machine.
And she moves aside, her day done, someone else picking up the thread of her life and working it into images she cannot even imagine.
(This is the story I wrote for use in our short film, "Stringing a Yarn." It was designed for use with a typewriter font that only had working end quotes, and no apostrophe.)