Breaking Fate

4 minutes, 27 seconds

Sometimes I can still see the bright lights of Vegas. The flashing bulbs that reflected off the glossy streets at night visit me in the darkness. I was strutting out of the Cosmopolitan in a gold-sequined cocktail dress when the colors converged and exploded, leaving me blind and pissed. The old hag wasn’t supposed to die for another ten years, but there I was, just shy of thirty and the newest blind Fate.

Some women are born with the gift of sight, but I’m not one of those. I was born with a special gift of touch, which up until that point just meant that I had a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Some dresses felt warm and slick when I touched them and made me nauseous with remnants of the last cheap whores who tried them on. Some felt soft and comforting because they were handled with care, but they generally looked like they were made from a Do It Yourself kit. Needless to say, I grew accustomed to wearing unsavory things that looked fantastic. 

As far as Fates go, I was one of the best. Granted, my perceptions were a gift from God, but I had a certain talent for storytelling that made life worthwhile for anyone who crossed my loom. But it wasn’t always that way. Realizing that my life as Anna Snow was over and I would be called Sister by a room full of blind lunatics made my first few years a little tense.

It was during my first week that I met our young protagonist. I had been weaving souls flawlessly for hours before coming onto one that I couldn’t place. I knew that souls were like veins. It took a practiced touch to distinguish one from another and even more, practice to know which ones should cross for a moment or a lifetime. As a Fate, my job was to braid these fragile souls together and form their Story. I was a divine tool. I was supposed to just know … without knowing. The contradiction wasn’t lost on me.

But hers felt like a dandelion. It was soft and vulnerable, and I had no idea what to do with it. I spent hours with it cradled in my left hand while I strummed and stroked the other souls with my right, looking desperately for others like it.

My stomach growled. No matter how many times I ran over the other souls nearby, the only ones that stood out were ones I thought were incompatible. One felt like a bizarre guitar string… It was discordant. The other felt crisp but smelled like burnt wood.

When I finally snapped, my stomach was growling impatiently, and my grip on her soul was less than gentle. “When can I get a fucking burger?”

The old weaver that I dubbed Hagniss for reasons that will become obvious later, chuckled from the left behind me. Being blind was a bitch.

“Why is that so funny?”

“We don’t eat anymore, Sister.”

One reflexive jerk, and she was gone, nothing but a soft fuzzy soul dangling from my hand. I must have made a noise because everything stopped and became quiet. No one moved. I wanted to run my hand along the length of her soul to make sure it really snapped, but I couldn’t risk the noise. These women had been Fates for a long time. They could see better by sound and touch than they could when they had eyes. Besides, I could feel her lifeless thread in my hands.
I was in deep shit.

I heard Hagniss push her chair back and the whisper of fabric and the crackle of old bones as she stood. “What’s wrong, Sister?”
“Nothing.” I would never admit fault. If God didn’t like it, he could have replaced me in a heartbeat.

When a few minutes went by and I remained unpunished, I cleared my throat and shifted in my seat to give the illusion that I was going to continue. The sound of the looms resumed and I heard Hagniss sit back down. “Very well, then.”

I had no idea what to do. I had her severed soul in my hand and no idea where it came from. With the busy looms and somewhat psychotic hums as background noise, I ran my right hand along the thread. Too long. It was too long. It must have snapped from another lifetime altogether. I felt along the woven cloth and my hand shook. There was a feathery ripple along the cloth where her absence had unraveled the souls. At least a handful of souls were barely laced together. There was no fixing it without unraveling the whole thing and starting over. I may have been naïve and reckless, but not stupid.

I suppose that was where my stubbornness came in handy. If I couldn’t fix a mistake that was already centuries old, I could at least fix it from that moment on. As I wove her carefully between Guitar String and Burnt Bark, I occasionally pulled in an array of other souls that while I was sure didn’t resonate, would push and pull her to others that did. I didn’t realize then the full extent of my mistake.