A Bahrain Writers’ Circle Creative Workshop Exercise
Secreted from the underbelly of the moth caterpillar called Bombyx mori, it sat in suspension for thirty-five days, a single filament one and half kilometres long. The cocoon was plunged into a hot bath to loosen the glue that held the threads together. Then it was cooled so that this thread could be unravelled. The caterpillar died in the process. That fine single strand of silk, for which a life was sacrificed, then joined three other martyrs to form a thread of one of the finest, most prized fibres in the world.
It shone in the light with a gentle glow, blushing as each of its minute three-sided faces caught a sunbeam that exposed its lissom length and supple sinews. It glowed as a moonbeam caressed its tresses. And it stretched in pleasure almost to its tensile limit pleased at its own resilience as one of the strongest natural filaments in the world. Its pride was short-lived.
Before it could revel in its own existence, the thread was trapped. Caught and wound into a skein. Then, enslaved in a ring, the yarn was packed off to a fabled land, Turkey. Here in the dyer’s harem the skein lost the innocent cream of its youth and was plunged into an indigo dye.
The indigo whispered its own sad story of capture, beatings and torture. The two strangers in a strange land wept and embraced each other. As their tears mingled the indigo imbued the silk with the softest, most beautiful hue of sorrow – blue; the kind that shines bravely in the sun and glistens pensively in the moonlight.
Today, a three denier thread of that silk waits suspended, rigid with fear, as a lady’s fingers clutch its neck and aim to push it into the oval eye of a sharp metal spike. At the last moment the thread flinches and dodges the eye of the needle.
The lady looks at the thread, then gently slides it over her tongue. The wet muscular rough appendage arouses an old memory – the glue that once held each strand tight and safe in that cocoon of the Bombyx mori caterpillar so long ago. The recollection makes all three deniers cling to each other now stiff with anticipation as they fly through the eye of the needle. It is threaded.
And the slavery of the silk is complete as the metal spike pulls all three strands together through the squared fabric to form a blue daisy in the lady’s embroidery. The silk sighs as it succumbs to its eternal punishment, forever bent, never free to flow and dance in the light again except in minute parts of its length as it weeps across the tapestry.
Note: This was another exercise through the Bahrain Writers’ Circle – Creative Writers’ Workshop. Back then we had a different format: we’d do exercises and were then given homework to share at the next session.
I remember it was given to us by Shauna Nearing Loej when, as a group, we were mendicants going from one refuge to another. At the time we were kindly granted a spot in a bookshop in Adliya. Shauna gave us us all a choice of subjects to write on. As usual I, ever the ‘teacher’s pet’, had done my assignment – the above post. It was an inspired piece although written frantically the night before we were due to meet. The atmosphere was perfect: dim lights, leather sofas and a slight chill in the air. I intoned my piece and at the time felt my voice sounded almost sepulchral, later I was told I sounded poetic! Anyway, this was met with such enthusiasm that I sent it to the Flaneur, where it still resides as a story under the same title! I’m hoping it’s okay to publish it here after almost two years. And I hope you will enjoy it.
Thanks to Morgen Bailey, this is the first time a story of mine has been Podcast!
And, here are the links
Just sharing the info… don’t feel obliged to listen to it 🙂
Other links taken from Morgen’s email to me:
I’m pleased to say that the podcast of your flash fiction is live. The direct short link to the relevant blog post is http://wp.me/p18Ztn-8Kp and long link ishttp://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/2014/04/27/baileys-writing-tips-podcast-short-stories-episode-no-39. Feel free to use them wherever and whenever you like. I’ve also added the details to the Podcast Short Stories, Flash Fiction Fridays and Contributors pages.
The links to listen to the podcast are on the blog post but they are…
iTunes (the first item), Google’s Feedburner (scroll to the end), Podbean, Podcasters and Podcast Alley.