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Chapter 10: Soulspun

April 12, 2013

Fatima had not expected spinning to feel like this.

At first there were too many things happening all at once – she kept losing control. There was so much to go wrong.

She’d concentrate on keeping the wheel going in the right direction and at the right speed, and then the fibre she was drafting between her fingers would get into a tangled lump, or catch in something. The whole thing would stop, clogged. Or she would give her attention to the fibre and it would seem to be going well – but then the wheel would be going too fast. The overtwisted yarn snapped like broken knicker elastic. Or the wheel would go too slow, or in the wrong direction, and the fibre would drift apart into soft, sad wisps.

Frustrated, she almost gave up completely. Birgitte, the spinner, was sweet and patient. Fatima did not want to disappoint her, by failing to spin. By failing to take pleasure in the spinning.

And then, slowly, she felt it all coming together. She found a steady rhythm with her feet on the treadle. Her fingers began to understand the wool.

Birgitte smiled, encouragingly. “When I began spinning,” she said, “I felt as though I had done it in a past life. It was so natural.”

Fatima nodded. Her great-grandmother on her paternal grandmother’s side had been a dancer. It was not spoken of in the family. But her grandmother had whispered the secret to Fatima one rainy day on a visit to their village in Pakistan. “You have been given her gift for music,” whispered Dadi Aisha, “And my gift for blasphemy.”

“You spin, too?”
She looked up, lost her rhythm all at once, and tangled the fibre.
“Damn,” she said, stopping the wheel.
“Sorry,” said Helen. “I was just passing and saw you. Thought I’d come and say hello.”
“This is my first try.”
“You seem pretty good,” said Helen.

“I think she did it in a past life,” said Birgitte.
“I’m not sure about that,” said Fatima, trying to smooth out the fibres she had tangled. “It’s not so easy.”

Birgitte took up a spindle, leaving the wheel to Fatima.
“Want a go?” she asked Helen.
“Not me.” Helen shook her head. “Trust me, I’ve tried before. Not my thing.”

She sat down on a stool near the wheel. There was a box of carded fibre and she began to look through it, examining the colours and textures.

Birgitte took out some sky-blue fleece and they both watched her start to spin with it. Her spindle blurred. She was fast. Expert.

“You think we really are re-born? That we have past lives?” asked Fatima.
It was what Dadi Aisha had believed, in secret.

“Absolutely!” Birgitte nodded emphatically. “I’m certain of it. I am Swedish now, but in my last incarnation, I was Irish.”
“Irish?” Fatima was intrigued. How could she know?
“A feisty red-headed washerwoman. Imagine!”

They laughed easily and Fatima turned to Helen. “What do you think?”
Helen paused. “I think we are all part of a grand creation,” she said. “And nothing ever truly dies, because the cycle of life is constantly renewing.”

“And our souls? When we die?” Fatima felt strangely anxious about the answer.
“I think our souls go to join with the Goddess,” said Helen.
“I don’t really know what that means. Is it like paradise?”
Helen touched her shoulder lightly.
“I’m not sure I know, either,” she confided. “But it sounds nice, doesn’t it?”
“Yes. Yes, it does.”

Fatima had at last straightened out the fibre and began to spin again.

Helen lounged on the tiny stool as though it were the comfiest of armchairs. She had a scruffy sort of elegance, in a cotton vest top and tailored shorts that would have suited a much younger woman. They suited Helen just as well.

The fibre drew out from Fatima’s fingers as though the Goddess herself was in the wool. She imagined the Goddess as a loving spirit, enveloping her and drawing out the fibre, through her fingers, through her soul. Settled about her shoulders, perhaps, like the lightest of shawls. Like a second skin. She imagined her soul stretching and spinning and combining with the souls of a million spinning women. It was a strange thought. Irreligious, and spiritual, both at the same time. She felt light-headed.

“What are your plans for today?” Helen asked. “Is your band playing tonight?”

Fatima recovered herself. “We’ve got a set at five o’clock.”
“Great,” said Helen. “I’m going to try and get there.”
“Zane has fallen in with some drummers,” Fatima went on. “He’s doing a drumming workshop or something with them this afternoon. I said I might go along.”
“Where’s that?” asked Birgitte. “I love a bit of drumming.”
“Oh, that place up on the main street,” said Fatima. “I forget the name.”
“Next to Lena’s place?”
“Yes,” said Fatima. “That’s the one.”
“Hey, let’s all go,” suggested Birgitte. “It’ll be fun.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 12, 2013 10:56 pm

    Word count – 833
    Prompt – Rebirth (bookreader)

    Please leave a comment with a prompt suggestion for Chapter 11
    (Check the sidebar for a link to more info about this interactive project!)

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