We are profoundly excited and a bit giddy to have brought Druid, author, and knitter- Cat Treadwell to the Hopeless, Maine creative fold. This story gave me goosebumps (in a good way, if there is any other) on first reading and I have discovered that it still does so. Without further ado, I give you- Threads
The needles moved almost automatically through her fingers, cloth coming together from fragile strands into something solid and…
Well, not exactly warm. But it would provide cover. Protection. Solace.
Wen’s thoughts drifted as she worked the thread in and out. She had no pattern and wasn’t entirely sure what she was making, but just seemed to know what stitches went where.
The sound was hypnotic, though. Therapeutic, she’d heard folks say. She tried not to think too much about it. If she did, the image always rose up in her mind, of a spidery creature with metal-tipped claws, skittering across the room just out of sight. So many things went unseen here in Hopeless.
But she could hear them, sense them. Sometimes their rank smell betrayed them, but she did her special best to ignore those creatures. Let them go about their business.
< Dark, wet, slithering, glistening>
Enough. Focus. Things to do.
She wasn’t even sure where the thread had come from – it was just there, in her basket. Was it a gift, slipped into her belongings by a kind visitor? Unlikely. Folk round here didn’t do that.
She paused for a moment, letting the cord slide across her fingers. Thicker than gossamer, more solid than silk. It seemed to be organic, woven from something living, but definitely not fleece. No sheep, rabbit or goat grew this. Plant, perhaps? Almost fibrous… maybe.
It glistened as well. The skein wasn’t sparkly, but it held the slickness of something damp. Yet it was smooth, dry. Not quite soft, but pleasant to the touch.
Back to it. Must get on.
No – wait. The noise again. At the door?
She placed the work down carefully, safe on her side table away from the cats (where had they gone too, anyway? She hadn’t seen them in days), and moved to peep through the window.
The evening was grey, sunset holding on with a last glimmer on the horizon, but clouds moving in. The boats should all be in by now – looks like a storm’s coming.
No sign of anyone there, man or beast.
Suddenly a bird shrieked, frightened by something. Wen jumped, ducking behind the curtain.
Silly, silly. Just a bird. Probably been jumped by one of those cats.
Smiling to herself, she stood and took one last look outside, before pulling the curtains firmly, locking the world away. She had things to do, after all. Anyone out there could wait until morning.
The lantern flickered, casting shadows around the small room. It had seemed so cosy earlier, just her and her work. Cushions and firelight, the pleasure of creating something new. Chillier now. Maybe she should light the fire.
She pulled her shawl close around her shoulders, fingers lingering on these old threads. One of the first things she’d made, this. It had been green once, but the colour had faded over the years, the handspun wool becoming a little frayed at the edges, worn in places where it had been pinned.
She smiled. Yes, like me. But she enjoyed making treasures to comfort folk here. Hopeless had little enough of that, Lord knows. She’d never lacked for interest, and her neighbours looked out for her when they could.
She glanced around again, annoyed at the interruptions. Must get on.
The needles seemed warm as she picked them up, firm and eager.
Eager? Where had that come from? She chuckled quietly. This was going to be something, she could tell.
The completed fabric began to spread out across her lap, flowing smoothly, reaching out to cover her, row by patient row.
So many things around here seemed to move like this, Wen thought. The tides, of course, bringing folk to and from the town. The tendrils of relationships between us all, old-timers and newcomers. You could always tell those who were meant to be here. They came and stayed. Others didn’t last one night, but she knew. On her occasional trips to the market, she saw the look in their eyes, those that didn’t belong. Well, good luck to them.
This was her home, had been since she was a girl. She couldn’t remember anywhere else. Mother weaving to make ends meet, Father…
No. No Father. That’s why they were here.
The needles clicked. The fabric shimmered. Wen’s eyes began to drift close, but her fingers never missed a stitch.
Hopeless was its own creation, wasn’t it. A web, added to by everyone here. A bit tangled in places, perhaps, but with a definite pattern. An ‘evil-lution’, she thought it was called.
Some spun it with stories, inks and paint. Others with words in song. Even the fishermen used their nets to bring new life in, to keep us all going.
Webs didn’t work in water, did they? Wen imagined it – great layers of cobweb connecting the waves. But she didn’t think there were such things as sea-spiders. If anyone’d see that sort of thing, it’s be the folks here, and she’d never heard tell of anything like that, not in any of the mad fireside tales.
It was finished.
Wen held it up to the light, assessing the multitude of tiny turns, fractals, wheels and cogs, all held together with this fragile thread.
How long had this taken? She’d quite lost track of time. It still seemed dark outside – had she done all this in one night?
She blinked, gazing at the pattern again. So familiar…
She knew it. She had seen it before. No wonder her fingers had known what they were doing.
The web that held Hopeless, Maine together was clear before her. It didn’t cover the town across the rooftops, oh no. It grew beneath the cobbled streets, the fields and yes, even the waves. It holds us all, keeps us together. Tied together.
There – and there. She recognised the patterns of her neighbours. And… back at the start, the first few stitches clustered together.
There she was. Holding it all.
Art- Tom and Nimue Brown