Anastasia had just sat down to her lunch when the world went silent. Not quiet like the night when all the carts and merchants in the street had gone home, but completely silent. There was not a sound to be heard, the ocean of noise that she swam through and navigated everyday was gone, was still, not a ripple.
She cursed those trickster gods. Of course they would take her hearing the day before her sixteenth birthday, they had taken her sight before she was born. Anastasia grabbed at her ears, tapped them, tugged on them, wiggled her fingers in them, but to no avail. She was adrift in a world with no sight and no hearing. In rage, she slammed her fists down on the table, rattling the plates and cups.
Anastasia stopped. She’d heard the rattling. She could hear the echoes of her curses still gambolling about the room. Perhaps it wasn’t here hearing gone, perhaps this was something else. Carefully, Anastasia placed her palms on the table to feel for the world around her. There was nothing, no vibrations, no rattles. She listened carefully, but there was nothing but her racing heart to listen to. No dogs or birds, no carts, no footsteps. No shouting in the streets, no squeals from children.
Just her ragged breath, her hammering heart, and her rising panic.
Anastasia had no idea what to do. Being blind from birth had made her somewhat pragmatic, and she knew that panicking – although perfectly reasonable under the circumstances – was not going to help her at all. She reached out carefully, found her plate she had placed her lunch upon, and began eating. The tomatoes and the cold meats, the lettuce; she sat and ate, deliberately, calmly, until her breath was more a touch frayed than ragged, and her heart was less hammering and more dancing an energetic two-step.
Her panic largely under control, Anastasia considered what to do next. An offering to the gods would normally be the way to go, but Anastasia was not in the mood for them right now. She cursed them again, and when they didn’t immediately strike her down, she cursed them in increasingly inventive ways, pausing less and less between each curse as they failed to do anything. The gods were silent as well. As far as she could tell, Anastasia was utterly alone both in this plane and those beyond. And as this realisation began to seep into her, something brushed against the back of her hands, and again her heart hammered and her breathing again became ragged.
With a force of will, and few more curses sent off in the direction of her absent gods, Anastasia calmed herself again. She was alone in this existence, she was certain of that, and so no one could harm her. Very carefully, she turned her hands over and now, in her palms, she could feel a thread. She ran her fingers along it and as she did, Anastasia felt not just fibre of the thread, but glimpses of – something.
She slowly drew it through her fingers again and as the fibres passed, as smooth fine sections gave way to rough patches and back again, she again glimpsed something, something too fast. Anastasia started again, drawing the thread through her fingertips as slowly as she could, and as she did she gasped for the glimpses coalesced into vision and she could see herself sitting before her, cursing at the gods in new and inventive ways.
The sight vanished as she dropped the thread, her world once again one without vision. Again, Anastasia calmed her breathing and brought her heart under control. She reached again for the thread and passed it through her fingers again. Here, she was but a baby, her parents desperately waving toys in front of her as she gurgled contentedly to herself, oblivious of the concern on her parent’s face. Here, she was older, lying on the ground yet again having fallen, having tripped on something unseen, unheard, but with the laughter of her peers echoing down the alleyway as they ran off. Here, older still, thrusting her hand in a bucket of water after attempting to cook. Everywhere she went on the thread was pain, humiliation, grief.
About to cast the thread aside, it being yet another jape from the trickster gods, her fingers linger on a smooth section, a fine silken thread between two parts of rough hemp. Her peers astonished as she skipped over an unseen broom handle left there for her. She had known it was there, she had heard it. Her fingertips scanned down the thread again, another silken section, her parents proud as she serves up a meal, one slightly singed and partially falling from the plates, but one she has prepared from scratch.
This thread was the thread of her life and as she held it and contemplated its rough areas and its silken smooth ones, another thread fell across her hands. She ran her hands along this one, and this was not her life. She saw the life of a small child, someone who lived a quite life, one not too silken, nor too rough, but a life nonetheless. Without a thought, Anastasia took that thread in deftly wove one end into her thread.
At that, she heard the cry of a child begin outside in the town somewhere and another thread fell across her hands. She entwined that one as well, and as she did so, a she heard the rumbling of a cart down the street. Another thread, another entwinement, and yet more sounds of life outside her door. The threads started drifting down in flurries, and without thinking, each was entwined, cross threaded, woven through the threads of the others. The village sprang back to life as Anastasia sat at her table, an empty plate before her, threads falling down from above. Her hands moving and twisting and entwining and threading together the strands, those silken and rough threads, piecing together the fabric of the world.