by Amanda M. Hayes
The woman wants a gift for her daughter. She has brought the dreams, sunshine yellow, summer-sky blue; they twine around her fingers and threaten to cling as she passes them to the weaver. There is a man with her. His hair is straw. His eyes, pale brown. They watch the weaver without words.
Later, the weaver spins dreams into thread and marvels silently at its softness: the shining floss is smooth and gentle as satin. She stitches it onto a small pillow. When she rests her cheek against it, she finds that the pillow holds the scent of a newborn puppy.
A man comes. He thrusts a handful of black at her and demands a garment for his enemy. She touches the nightmares but gingerly, for they are the shade of mortified flesh, and names a prince's price. The barbed thread stains her fingers with blood. When she runs her hand down the finished cloak, the sound is like that a knife makes when it slides between ribs.
The next is altogether different, hardly more than a boy despite the dreams he holds. The slippery red thread she makes from them tastes of sweat when she brings it to her lips, and each pass of the loom wrings from it a tiny gasp, the hint of a sigh. That straw-haired man is there again with the other as he claims his scarf. Watching.
Finally he comes to her alone. "Make me something from your dreams," he says.
She hesitates, unsure. She thinks he is joking. But he flashes gold at her, and so that night finds her stepping slowly out into her backyard.
A scan of the tree boughs reveals nothing, and the weeds where flowers once were are empty of glimmering film. The dreams have caught on the blackthorn bushes instead. Thorns prick her fingers as she picks her dreams free--she fears that they will unravel in her hands. There is no color in them. Their edges are tattered. How many might have blown away since last she thought to look for them, she cannot guess.
It is a slower weaving than most, but eventually a long, pale coat is ready for the man. It weighs next to nothing. If he notices her hands trembling as she passes it to him, he does not say. He wraps it around himself, and closes his eyes... and sighs.
Then he reaches behind her to claim the scissors and distaff from her table.
"Go," he bids her. "I'll fill your place awhile."
She only stares. He pulls the coat free and puts it over her unresisting shoulders; he takes the three gold coins from his pocket and slips them into hers.
"Go on," he says again.
The weaver looks at him, finding understanding in those eyes--maybe something more, but she can't think of that, barely notices it now. She reaches to touch his hand with her own and then glides out the door, lost in her dreams of freedom.
Amanda M. Hayes moved to Oklahoma City in April, 2004; the weather channel reported four tornados on the night she arrived. It was a daunting form of welcome. She has a BA in English from Indiana University, a collection of pewter dragons, and no pets whatsoever. Her fiction has appeared in Jackhammer, SDO Fantasy, and Peridot Books, with a chapbook forthcoming from Scrybe Press.
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"Dream Weaver" © 2006 Amanda M. Hayes. Used by permission
of the author.
Raven Electrick © 2000-2006 Karen A. Romanko.