A Muse's Tapestry: Part One
Cover Photo © Rosalie Thorne
Editor – Z. V. Ezell
A Muse’s Tapestry
By Rosalie Thorne
“To deny our own impulses is to deny the very thing that makes us human.”
- The Matrix
To all the storytellers out there,
Our minds are a beautiful thing,
And I will be forever grateful.
A Muse’s Tapestry
When Queen Eadyth filled The Solar Realm with nothing but darkness, killing the last chance for salvation, Laocoon and his family fled to Earth not only with the hopes to survive but to thrive. Luckily they found they were not the only Fae among the Humans and were in fact a part of a bigger group of Others. And so time passed... so time was wasted... until one particular Winter Solstice....
“Why did we have to come here though?” I whisper carefully, “I’ve already seen it in your mind.”
“I want to make sure you get the exact right thing.” She throws a glance at me as we cross the threshold of the store, “I hate not getting exactly what I want.”
Of course. Not my sister. She always explains it’s because she hates exchanging things, hates going to stores, but that’s a big fat lie. Any excuse to shop, she takes it. What it really comes down to is others not following instructions, not following the rules.
Even though she knows exactly where the bag is in the store, she has to wait for that particular wall to show me that particular bag, because there are too many Humans in the way. So, she waits, lazily eyeing the new display up front and center. Which, she thinks very clearly – though did not show outwardly in the slightest – ‘hideous’.
There is an awkwardly low, square, leather, plush-ish bench in the middle of the store. I suppose it is meant for people like me; for the males that don’t care. I sit down, only because it is empty, and close my eyes with a sigh.
“Hey, Calli, can you please gift wrap this?” the female at the check-out counter asks.
There are small footsteps. Slow breathing. No words exchanged in handing of the package. Everything about the whole moment is rather forgetful.
Except for her mind…. Oh, it is beautifully quiet. Unlike so many dreadful minds in this too busy mall. That are all so loud this close to Christmas. Panicked. Panicked because what if it wasn’t the right gift or what if they couldn’t find what they were looking for or because they were running out of time or because they knew they didn’t have enough money.
But her mind is quiet. Methodical. She does her job extremely thoroughly, as I suppose is needed for a place like this. She is careful to remember every step she needs to take. Make sure there is no plastic. Make sure there are no flaws. Make sure the price is ripped off the tag and place what’s left of the tag with the care instructions in a very specific pocket. Make sure there is no sensor. Then, grab the correct size gift box.
Only now, do I realize she is seasonal, new… having to hold the bags over the boxes to know for certain. She is a little proud when she chooses correctly the first time. She takes out the ribbon, the sticker, unwraps – no, unfolds the tissue paper. In her mind I can almost see her frown as she remembers making this box last night, desperate to be done, and the tissue isn’t exactly right.
But – shoot! The dust cover. Relief washes over her as she carefully, correctly places the product in the protective bag. Then, in the box it goes. Tissue over tissue, sticker, lid. Then… oh, she is flawless with the ribbon. Perfect little bow, and she feels a tinge of pride. Then the slight hesitance returns, trying to figure out what size shopping bag for that box. The labels – small, medium, large, etc., did not match – smalls do not always fit into smalls, mediums do not always fit into mediums, and larges do not always fit into larges. Finally, box perfectly in the shopping bag, even with the holiday tag, her soft steps return to the counter, and there’s another silent hand-off.
The male who completed the purchase thoughts become disturbed, even though the wrapping is perfect, ‘man, does the bag and the box have to have the logo’? And I try not to get defensive.
She – my she – goes back behind the back wall. Now with nothing to do, she sighs. Well, I don’t hear her little sigh among the slight chatter and soft music… the sigh is in her thoughts. Then, slowly, she thinks of earlier in the afternoon… almost too worried to get too carried away with those thoughts in the workplace.
What thoughts? I can’t help but wonder.
I take a single, inhuman moment to look at my sister, she found something she is mildly interested in, trying to find matching items for the endless list of things in her closet. Her motto: if you like it, get it in every color.
The quiet mind I am still tethered to, that is an easy focus against the crowd beyond the semi busy store, is still in the same flow as I left it, still the same thought – only a fraction of a second difference. But then, she lets it go, knowing it is hopeless to fight it, ‘That’s what my mind does, after all’.
The memory filters in, with such vivid detail I can almost see it as if it was one of Zen’s visions. The quiet girl had been sitting at the window, mindlessly petting a cat when a man walked across the street with a Huskey.
My brows come together, why was this so bad….?
There was no attraction, he was far too old. There was no… anything, between her and him.
But then! From this single moment – the very single moment to the next, it is not them at all. A woman sitting in front of a window with a cat and a rugged man walking a Huskey, yes. But a completely different woman and a completely different man.
Truthfully, I am a little startled by what happens next. Human minds don’t usually work this way. Maybe with Zen’s visions… as they were finalizing… but….
That single moment turned into a string. A string that leads to a yarn ball of thoughts. But instead of getting jumbled or confused or lost, these threads began to move… to weave themselves. And after moments, SECONDS, actual Human seconds – the time for a single Human heartbeat, I see the tapestry she creates.
A love story.
Not in progress. Not a daydream. Not for her.
They would be next-door neighbors. They would have been eyeing each other for a while. She, a proper Southern lady from her window, with her Maine Coon (not the girl’s cat, hers was a tabby), with her tea. Her house was vintage, homey, and everything had a place. That was very important to the lady. She would watch the man sometimes. The tall, handsome, rugged neighbor, with his sleeve tats and flannels and hiking boots and Huskey. Sometimes she would see him making a fire in his backyard. And this is often when he saw her…. He always saw her when he was outside. That’s why he liked the backyard. That’s why he walked the Huskey down the street, not in the woods. Because the beautiful woman in the window. Delicate, but… strong. He knew that from the very few times he had seen her eyes.
One night, she wouldn’t have her key. It was raining. These were the only reasons for the meet cute. Cold, wet, spent, the girl would have to go to her neighbor that had the key – she had done the proper thing and given it to her for emergencies; that’s what she was taught. She went over, shivering, drenched. He would have been… working out? (I wasn’t sure… this was from the girl's POV.) Shirtless, nonetheless. Later, from his POV, he would have been stumbling over himself because she was so beautiful and small and polite. She would come in, and get warm. Invite him for lemonade as an apology.
That’s where their love story would start and continue to bloom. The crux of it all, though…. So, the woman, apparently, had moved into the house because her parents died, and was unsure if she should stay. But it was home… so she, in all her Southern charm and traditions, would not want to upset her parents. The problem though… as she was falling so desperately in love with her opposite – which is what she needed to finally feel… ease and joy and adventure and freedom, he was planning to leave. He had moved into the house for his fiancé. Who left. He had moved in with a temporary job – which, well, yes had lasted three years at this point. But… three years always seemed to mark exactly when he felt restless and flighty and would move. He was in love, oh yes. But scared. After the ex-fiancé left… he couldn’t, completely believe his heart was mended and he was right for the girl next door.
The fight was going to be hideous. … and doing what she was taught, she would close up. She would tell him that he was a free man, after all.
Hm. That edge of the tapestry… it isn’t quite as complete.
In these holes, I am thrown back – pushed back into the quiet, still waters of the lake of the girl’s mind. She grabs her phone, pulls up the note app, pulls the section labeled Novels and types: Raining Cats And Dogs – opposites attract, girl next door… and a few other things that slip by, perhaps a repeat of what I’ve already learned.
So… she’s an author, then? I wonder –
I have to force myself to look at my sister. Finally standing at the wall, she looks at me expectantly. As I get up, she doesn’t even wait for the salesperson and takes down the blue bag and meets me in the middle. As we’re almost done at the cashier, though, I feel alarmed. “Wait.”
My sister looks at me, so confused and now starting to get angry because this is exactly what she wants.
“Can we get it gift-wrapped?” I hear myself ask.
“Hey Calli,” the cashier asks in the same exact way, same exact tone. Pleasant but non-descript.
The girl comes around the corner, and their exchange happens more quickly than before. So quickly, that while Faith is also trying to have a silent conversation with me on how the gift wrapping doesn’t matter and I’m forced to be turned away, I hear:
“Can you please gift wrap this?”
“Yes, of course. Only one left, isn’t it?”
I turn back as fast as I can, only to see her hidden by a wall of hair as she looks over the product. Because… her voice? Oh, her voice! Always the mind I hear is exactly the same as the voice, but hers is different. Fascinating.
One step towards the back, she turns a fraction back to me and my sister, which is when I jump at the opportunity to ask, “If there’s a sort of holiday… ah, card, could you please write that it’s from me?”
Faith very subtly elbows me, drawing my attention away, right when the author asks, “Sure! What’s your name?”
I look over long enough to say, “Laocoon Espoir Vagrer,” before giving an expression to Faith to calm down.
“Of course,” said one voice, aloud. But the other went, ‘hmm, what a beautifully strange name. That would be perfect for something… supernatural’ she decides.
Which is fair. All Humans make stories about us. We have too many things that are a little too… off. Their subconscious mind, their humanity notices. I have heard, regardless of really wanting to sometimes, so many of their little stories prattle off.
But. That was it. ‘Hmm, what a beautifully strange name. That would be perfect for something… supernatural’. And then she doesn’t think of me.
…. I want to know though. I want to see the tapestry.
Who would that name belong to? Would he look like me? Would she do something so typical as a Vampire, maybe?
No… no, I know for certain. She would guess correctly. Maybe not from this world, exactly, but that name would belong to a Fae.
And I am going to wait… however long it takes, to see that tapestry form.
To see our tapestry form.
I focused on the love story. I focused on Raining Cats And Dogs. I kept going through it, trying to figure out how she would write the ending. After reading so many books, seeing so many movies, tv shows, and plays, and hearing so many songs, I am very good at predicting plots and endings. Ninety-eight percent of the time, I am right. Recently, only two movies shocked me: Knives Out and Red Notice.
So, all the way through the rest of the mall and the parking lot, I keep trying to guess. But… everything I try never seems right. He didn’t feel right for her and was leaving, and she told him to go. How would they – how could they reconcile?
My Mustang’s doors shut; I turn over the engine –
“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?” Faythe screams as if I had killed Zenzian right in front of her.
Thank the Gods, my foot is now lead on the break, not the gas.
I turn to her, in shock.
Her eyes glow white, her extended fangs shimmer, her skin is vibrating, little static visible even through the fabrics. Though, it is her voice that clinches the fact that she’s gone full Fae. Not the language of our people, but the way it echoes, “What have you done-one-ne?” she repeats.
Her mind is stone, stuck on that thought.
I look around for Humans and scan for minds. We are far enough away no one would see her like this. For now.
“Faith?” I use her nickname to try and ease her.
But she doesn’t respond.
“Faythe… I don’t understand,” I would not hide, I would not manipulate. I can’t when she is like this and I am not – her power too strong, mine too hidden.
Finally, “No-o… you don’t, do you-ou?”
Shifting to ‘do you, do you, do you’, her mind echoes just like her voice.
The phone rings between us. Not knowing what else to do, I answer it, “Hello?”
“Hey, Lance,” Zen starts carefully.
“… yes?” ‘cause what exactly had he seen?
“… just bring her home. She won’t do anything stupid. But she’s also not going to say anything more.” He wouldn’t have called if it wasn’t set.
I sigh and get the car going.
“I’m surprised you want to go back to the mall,” Faith comments carefully, her mind completely guarded – she’s been going through her eidetic memory of every textbook she’s ever read.
“I told you, I need something for Mom,” I emphasize the Human word lovingly.
“Coach though? I think she would much rather a Tiffany charm,” she starts leafing through a biology one next.
I shrug. “I want to surprise her.” Of course, I had gotten her exactly what she’d been trying not to think around me, to try and give me the chance to pick something out myself. But, regardless, I need to get back into that store.
As we bob and weave amongst the Humans, the fact that the Human race is so similar is bothersome. The fact we Fae can’t really see them… just like when Humans see a litter of puppies, seeing dog and cuteness, but no differences – to us Humans are sort of blurry and nondescript. (Which can make it even more frustrating and confusing when interacting with them in a group, sometimes making us get lost with who’s speaking and who we’re meant to be responding to. I’m so glad I can hear minds and know I am indeed talking to the correct Human.)
Another trick I have – we have when dealing with Humans is bumping into them on purpose, to seem more uncoordinated. So, when I’m so lost trying to find the author’s mind, my truly accidental bumping into a Human doesn’t faze Faith. She only slows when we are in eye shot and her mind finally slips away from textbooks as she remembers something else she wants to buy.
Even though it has only been twenty-four hours, the entire store has changed. Everything is in a different place… except for that square bench. As I leave Faith to hunt for a present for Mother, and herself I’m sure, I purposefully try to be extremely casual as I go to the middle of the store. While thinking about it all night, I decided I have to act like yesterday, rather disinterested. (Instead of being intense and perhaps unsettling as I act way too eager looking into faces I can’t really see.)
After a deep breath, I try to find her mind. Unfortunately, I am too hasty; I can’t focus on the small room. I keep jumping too far… streets away sometimes.
So, I slowly, lazily scan the room. One Human is at the cash wrap, another is helping a guy trying to find something for his wife. Though, I do suppose… if she is here, she would behind the wall again…?
I keep trying` to find her mind. Too far again. Down at the bookstore now. God, this is frustrating. I close my eyes. Maybe if I start with Faith, I can seep ever so carefully away to the next mind, until I circle to the back room.
A loud thud, too loud for my concentration, startles me. I look over to see a mess of brown hair falling towards a box being cut open. Brown, yes, but not a Human brown – a beautiful hickory. Hickory with a low burning cinnamon in the shadows, and as her hair shifts, the lights catching it differently, there are sparkling highlights of caramel.
Damnit,I practically growl, does another Fae really have to be here now?
Of course, a Fae would love to work here. So close to so many pretty things. And, of course, as is our way with manipulation and endless time, the ‘waste’ of time working would be worth the discount. But: I hate running into other Fae. Faith gets way too excited. And then, with the three of us? It draws too much attention.
As I try to calm, trying not to draw Faith’s attention to me and therefore the other Fae behind me, I close my eyes again. Four people could be working this close to Christmas. If she is the gift wrapper… maybe she is making boxes or stocking the backroom.
I start with Faith again. Wallets. Whatever. Okay… there is the male next to her. He speaks aloud, which makes it easier for me to find his mind. Okay, next one… the sales female.
“You look like you’re having so much fun,” she giggles.
Her voice was the same as last night! So, I look over, feeling a calm spread through me physically the way her inner voice spread calm through my mind. But… wait….
I look around.
The voice had come from my left. But only the Fae is to my left now. Had she said it in passing? I stare at the back wall.
“… do you like any of the backpacks?” Calli asks.
My head whips a little too fast, directly at the sound. Mahogany bourbon eyes look at me cautiously. With the connection – the connection I carefully never make with anyone unless they needed to speak with me nonverbally – I am in her mind unbreakably. ‘Maybe I should tell him I’m new… maybe… oh gosh, I wasn’t trained for this. Hmm, the men tend to start with the wallets…’.
The same voice. The one that made the beautiful tapestry.
“… we have some new wallets in, for the semiannual sale,” Calli weaves the words carefully, trying to sound confident but not invasive.
I can’t breathe.
Have I finally gone insane?
… it happens sometimes, Fae too long in the Human world….
When I don’t respond, she breaks the eye contact, a very soft shade of peach pooling in her freckled cheeks. Her skin is… golden, I decide. Even though the Summer is two seasons behind us, the Summer hasn’t left her body. The golden skin is freckled with tiny little tawny spots like stars in the night sky.
Her skin has texture. I have never seen texture like it. Fae skin too smooth, too perfect, even under the beards of males. Texture… well, I wonder if it would still be soft and smooth under my fingertips?
She keeps her eyes down, focusing on unwrapping new products. Her hands work as methodically as her thoughts. Thoughts that explain that she likes being careful. She appreciates the items. And not in the way my sister does… not because it is beautiful and new and would look nice on a shelf or her arm.
I follow her hands with my eyes and very, very slowly let my mind lift just enough to know, for sure, I can stay linked without interruption.
Calm… like a lake at dawn. But instead of floating at the surface like last night, I cannonball with intent. And… there it is. Her idea of rich is being able to fill her gas tank. She is desperate to keep this job because it pays fifteen dollars an hour – more than she’s ever made before. So, she truly appreciates the merchandise that I had never cared to look at before; she knows how much time and effort had gone into making the handmade items.
I also hear how desperately she had wanted the bag Faith picked out yesterday. She had been hoping that all the things she had sold on eBay – that all the money would get into her account before the end of the sixty-five percent off the employees get until Christmas. It hasn’t yet. But, that’s why she had asked, “Only one left, isn’t it?”
She had dreamed of that bag since her interview. She loved the color… blue I had called, ‘sage’ she had sighed. She loved the detail of the darker color on the seam and the sort of pewter grey hardware instead of shiny silver. She had loved all the pockets. And ‘for once’ she would have a ‘big bag’, a ‘nice bag’.
I pull up, unable to take her sadness. I could kill my sister for taking that bag away from her.
Without realizing it, wanting to comfort her, I am now hovering over where she had bent down for another plastic-wrapped product.
‘LANCE’! Faythe mentally screams at me.
She had seen, about to get my attention for the gift for Mother. I had moved too fast, and I am much too close. Just as fast, before Calli can even start to uncurl herself, I take a single step back, the length of my shoe.
“Excuse me?” I try to act casual again, though everything, including panic, burns within me.
She pops up. When her eyes meet my face, that lovely peach color comes back. “Oh! Hi! Yes? Did you want to see something?” her eyes dart to the back wall.
“A wallet,” I answer. That’s where she said most men started.
‘Lance, what are you doing’? Faith’s mental tone is sharp.
I lift a shoulder for her to see and walk a full step behind Calli as she guides me to the men’s wallets. Inhumanly, I turn enough to say, “Shopping,” as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
Calli looks at my clothes and then pulls a black leather wallet from the display. I look down, not really having thought of what I had put on. Faith had filled the closets of everyone in the house. She also made clear mental pictures of outfits for me to choose from. She likes fashion, so I trust her sense of it in the Human world. I notice my leather belt is black.
Hm. Calli is rather… clever.
“So,” she starts casually, unfolding the wallet for me. “I really like this one because,” and she slips out a folded part from one of the inner pockets, “two wallets in one.”
Her smile is kind, and she is proud of getting this far. “That’s very cool,” I try to sound like some of the male Humans.
“It is a little bulky, though,” she admits, reaching for a thinner, still black, one. “This is a very popular item.”
As I look down at her, I notice the little way the tip of her nose moves when she speaks certain words. Adorable, absolutely adorable.
I wonder though… I look at the wall more closely. Everything except something so grossly lime green, is black, navy, or brown. “I don’t suppose there is anything sage, is there?”
This catches her the way I want it to. She looks up at me and then at my sister. ‘Oh’, her thoughts mourn, ‘the Lori bag’.
But, still, perhaps for the sake of being professional or for the sake of conversing with me, she smiles, “No, not for the men… it is a gorgeous color though, isn’t it?”
I like this. I can now compare when she is speaking from a script, doing her job, and speaking from her heart.
“It is…. Ah, my mom was quite fond of the one I got for my sister,” which is true. “Is it possible to order another?”
I can see the stress in her eyes before I can hear it in her mind, ‘shit, what is her name’? she glances at her coworker. (Human, black hair, still a blur like a nondescript background figure in an Impressionist painting.) “Ah, yes… my associate should be able to do that for you.”
Her thought is so quick, I almost miss it, ‘it’s still online, I checked last night’.
My lips thin. I don’t want her to spend her entire paycheck on the bag. I am going to order this one for her and… well, hand deliver it to her address, maybe? Or… well…?
I follow her to the other girl and realize very intensely that I don’t like black clothes on Calli. The deep, dark, solid color doesn’t look right on her. No one would wear black in the Summer.
“Hi,” Faith’s voice startles me, and she steps very carefully on my foot as she naturally sways to put the product on the counter.
I don’t want to look away from Calli because I don’t want her to disappear into the back. But it’s impossible not to read the… rage rolling off my sister. My jaw twitches as I look over.
“Did you find anything you like?” she asks conversationally in front of the Humans.