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The Wool Mistress
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The Wool Mistress
I removed this from the site a while back and thought I would put it up again. If I need to take some punishment for it...I can understand.
[1,256 words]
Popular Fiction
[August 2015]
The Wool Mistress

The Wool Mistress

Edda was becoming older, her moon face had deepened into wrinkles and her thin long body accommodated veiny hands and legs, although for all of it she was spry. She kept the marriage of a spinning wheel and loom in her house, a hipster by age and temperament. She disguised her character from the younger farm wives who bought those wares and admired her work as they did the old farmhouse, dead to modernity. She had worked years at the spinning wheel and still she came home to the task. She remembered the slow love that had accumulated between herself and her husband, Joseph. Edda remembered that she was getting older and thought of her own mortality. Why was she so afraid of it?

She was down to the last of the wool which she effortlessly worked in fat snakes to the spinning wheel and that in turn twined the wool into soft yarn. The separated her from reality and her thoughts and emotions so that she could remember Joseph without sorrow. She had a doctorate herself, though she had long given up teaching and they would sit at the dinner table and share advanced and liberally active political discussions, so full of declarations and so full of the words ‘I think’ and ‘I feel’ for the elder and creased. The thoughts brought her to her own impermanence as if the ghost of Joseph gently nudged at her to remember her age. She would hush the thought away, although they always turned on her become quiet, background fear that then touched at her so that she sometimes felt a wave of panic sweep over her. Sometimes she matured at an unconscious rate and all that was left were the questions. Where did the fear come from?

She switched over to the loom when the wool was finished and worked the shuttle that crept between the vertical strings that was a harder task, she was careful not to prick her fingers. She felt a sense of sorrow, though she couldn’t identify it specifically and didn’t realize it was the thought of Joseph working in the back of her mind. The weaving took longer than the spinning and she as completed another row the small rug started to look like it had taken its first two feet of being, time slowed and the work seemed useless as if there were nothing in life worthwhile. Where did the terrible feeling come from? She wasn’t depressed, but she was weary of her world. Why so?

Edda drove a beaten up and rusty Volkswagen square back along the gravel road that worked when climbing hills, creating a product of limestone dust behind the miniature station wagon. She looked at her bony and veiny hands on the wheel and then forced her thoughts back to the road with a will. She remembered when Joseph had sole use of the car, and drove the ancient machine to his own tomb of knowledge in the midwestern town where the large state university was located. She often felt like she wasn’t responsible for driving the machine, even though it had technically outlasted Joseph. She turned at an intersection in the gravel. It was only another marker in time like Joseph’s stroke, enough of him. Running the errand was a Godsend since work seemed to settle her emotions around the matter of her own demise. She ruled the thoughts morose and thought about the shearlings she was going to collect.

Edda hopped from the car and climbed the three four steps to an open porch on a perfectly square house and let her knuckles thud on the door several times. A younger man with curly hair and black plastic horn rimmed glasses pulled the door open against its insulated frame so that it gasped in surprise. She looked up at the young man her dark blue eyes squeezing above a smile.
“So Jeb, I hear you have new shearlings to sell.” Jeb smiled in return.
“I thought you would be coming over, so I put them in the kitchen closet for you,” he said “come in.” She followed him through the living room down a long hallway to the kitchen. He walked to a pantry built in a diagonal to the corner of the room he pulled rough wool that he had rolled and bundled and stacked it on the small wooden kitchen table.
“Well,” She said, “They’ll need some carding and washing, but they look pretty good.” She realized she was standing in his kitchen close to the young man and was surprised by small tug of sadness. They spoke for several moments and closed a deal and then she pulled a small wad of bills from the blue jeans which sagged against her thin frame and counted the agreed on number handing them to Jeb. Both of them gathered up bundles of wool so that the top rolls balanced precariously and carried them through the door to the hatch back of the Volkswagen. They crowded the wool into the small cargo space. She shook hands with Jeb and cracked the front door of the car,
“See you when the next batch comes in.” Jeb waved good-bye and she gunned the car to life. She looked at him in the rearview mirror. Why the small jab of pain?

It was a summer evening and all was still so that when the car entered the farm’s windbreak it cast a pall over everything. Edda followed the gravel lane from the house that divided two wide pastures, the thin road like the line of death that separated two like souls. The Volkswagen moved slowly so that the gravel sound beneath its wheels ground on in merciless labor, although the ping of the small stones didn’t yet strike its underside at that low speed. As she turned on to the gravel, she felt older and emptier. The empty feeling awakened her loneliness, it seemed all the others had dropped away and she once again thought of Joseph, remembering his long face and thin hooked nose. The feeling was counterbalanced by fear, knowing that she would soon follow them into shadow. She forced the thoughts aside, thinking about the effort ahead of her.

She had been two weeks at carding the wool with card brushes and a large and innocent cloud of cleaned wool floated in the corner. She needed a change and the loom that took up most of the room called for her effort. She stood up, stretching her back and looked absently at a picture across the room from her and somewhere in the blank space caught a small sense of impending metamorphosis. She walked into the neighboring room and armed the shuttle with thread. She started working a row and the unexpected thought of Jeb rose in her mind along with the same twinge of sadness she had felt in his presence, a needle that had barely stabbed the veins of her feelings. If she had born a son, Jeb would have been her pride and joy. Her thoughts returned to the work and soon she was thinking of Joseph, of the trick of circulation that had finally taken him. She looked passingly at the veins in her hands that would some day cease their purpose, and once again felt her mortality. She started to run the shuttle and in the process pricked her index finger. A tiny drop of bright, newborn blood welled up.


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August 2015

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