needlework

needlework
with a whoop of joy, moondragon snapped the last thread, plunged the needle with its remnant of thread into the pincushion along with the last of the pins and stood up, flinging the finished cloak into the air like a roustie throwing a fleece, so that it spread itself in the air and fell to the floor almost fully expanded, exhibiting its intricacies and subtleties to full view. she swept away the wrinkles and stood, arms akimbo, smiling widely, waiting for praise.

well, there was no denying its richness of shape and texture and colour. pieces of all shapes and sizes had been painstakingly hand-stitched together to create the thing. there was no counting them – it could only have been a few hundred, but they were arranged so seemingly haphazardly, with the colours so screaming at each other, the shapes jagged and chunky like shards of something shattered, forming such weird twists and turns, spiralling inwards like a staircase here, and juddering off into crazy visual cacophonies over there, each strenuous writhe of shape and shade vying with the others for focus and form. but could you call it beautiful?
but then, as its maker had said, aesthetics weren’t the point so much, although once you understood the functionality, the beauty of the metaphysics became apparent, and you’d look upon it with the eyes of love and see at last its adorableness.

janvas was willing enough to take her word for that. he was wiccan enough to know not to enquire too deeply into another path’s mysteries if you’re only casually interested. he kept a respectful distance and circled it slowly, his hands spread palms out before him for protection. it was a jumbled tumble of shattered patterns of glow and glitter, smooth shine and texture, and among the melee of mostly deep, jewel colours there was a lot of black, silver and gold. light flashed and sparkled from strings of diamantes, beads glinted and glimmered and mother of pearl glowed mysteriously, tiny skulls grinned and goggled and doodahs and geegaws dazzled and danced amid the glancing glitter of tiny mirrors stitched in firmly with gold threads and hair-thin silver wires. in the slow shift of light as janvas circled, symbols and signs, zodiacs strange and wild, chimeras and serpents and magical devices of all kinds seemed to appear slowly, blaze brightly for a moment and then vanish gently in the general dazzle.
seemingly haphazard, yes, but replete with a kind of keen cunning, of purposeful attention to detail, of magical savvy – supplied by the needle, at least in part, because moondragon had enchanted it and charmed it, and invoked its dreaming soul; and if the darned thing has winked a lot, is winking, will be winking, will have been winking, and wills to be winking still, in candlelight and firelight and oil lamplight and firefly light and daylight and electric light and by the light of the seeing fingers of those who’ve sewn on into the dark of night, and of the memories of blind seamsters, over so many generations that its sense of humour can scarcely be doubted, so too did moondragon’s. for it’s true, even the well-defended janvas suddenly caught himself viewing this newborn cloak through the magic needle’s eye. he shook it away with a laugh. such are the hazards of having a druid wife.

he said cautiously at last, ‘good needlework,’ and so it was, nine stitches to the inch, three good tight little stitches one on top of the other at the start and finish of every thread. every seam straight as a die. best work she’d ever done. he was still regarding it critically, a strange smile on his lips, so she waited to hear more. eagerly, gazing attentively into his face so as not to miss a single nuance of his reaction, which is why she saw the ever so slight startle that was almost a twitch although he remained expressionless, perhaps his muscular tension increased a little, and his hand slowly rose to stroke his beard. she saw him shift the focus his gaze, soften the energy of the radiance of his eyes, soft-gaze for a moment and then bow his head ever so slightly, and though she couldn’t now see them, she guessed he was in conversation with the elves who had helped her with the design.

she was not wrong. there were three, the tallest a little man about nine or ten inches high, thinnish, bearded, not yet middle-aged, wearing a tall hat and a soft dark cloak which sometimes lapped open a little to reveal much bright clothing underneath, and high boots wrinkled at the ankles and buckled over the instep. he had nodded and smiled and presented the tallish elf woman who was on his left, who wore a skirt of busy patchwork almost as vibrant and glitzy as moondragon’s and a dark cape that covered her arms to the elbows. she waved a huge needle, the size of the one moondragon had used, trailing several times her own length of thread thick as a rope at him. that was where moondragon had seen janvas smile.

the elf had danced excitedly around a two foot section of the hem of the cloak, pointing out the superlative features with the tip of her needle, the acmes and epitomes, fancies and exquisitudes, so pleased and proud it was bursting out of her in gloriously radiant smiles and giggles of glad mirth. the third was to the right, and presumably too doubled up with the excitement of it all to be included in the introductions, rolling about on his back on the cloak’s broad hem, waving feet and fists in the air, shaking and rocking and rolling about with tears of laughter streaming from his eyes. he was smaller, and so perhaps younger than the other two and the thought occurred to janvas that that elf was probably best ignored. the tallest elf’s eyes flickered briefly towards him, amused, and janvar nodded again, and even forgot himself so far as to smile back. the merest glimmer of a smile it was, but moondragon saw it and smiled too.

‘very nice,’ he said, pulling himself back to his own centre of self with an effort, because the elves’ enchantments are seductive, and anyway, he wanted to see more. ‘put it on.’
‘i will,’ said moondragon, swooping forward and snatching it up. ‘i’m going to the lugnasadh festival in the hills grove this evening. oops, i’m running late. gunna do big magic for planet earth, you know, the way we do. kiss me, my love. i must fly.’

in a single movement she landed a kiss on janvar’s lips and, flinging the cloak over her shoulders, spun off into a wild pirouette. the cloak, a-jangle with its bells and beads flew out in a full circle around her like saturn’s rings and then as she stopped, it speedily wrapped her in many tightening spirals like tentacles, and POOOF!
she vanished.
and how she flew, and how she flew, and the elves flew with her, clinging to the fringes of her cloak . . .

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