Stitches and Thread

       Her hand moves with the deftness of a surgeon (and perhaps at one time she might have been one) as the needle flashes–a thin white thread trailing behind it like smoke.

The woman is humming, a song that was already old when the world was young.

Glancing up, she catches her reflection in a mirror, surprised at it’s presence and a little uncertain when, (or if)  she had purchased it. Her hair is blue this time, and she smiles in the flickering light of the single bulb that hangs from the ceiling like a noose.

That’s a cheery thought she thinks–she hasn’t stopped stitching, her hands haven’t stopped moving. It was different from what she did before, but in the end, whether you are fashioning night lights, or sewing stuffed bears the dance is always the same.

She turns away from her reflection, and looks down at her current project. A bear–a teddy bear to be exact, (if being exact was something that you were prone to be).

The bear is of average size for one of it’s kind (whatever that meant) and, this one, is black and white,but she’s positive that it’s not a panda bear (which in her opinion is white and black…obviously.)

ThoKi2025 / Pixabay  white and black).

He has glassy yellow eyes, and his nose is pink.

She wrinkled her nose at it, and touched the it’s nose with her index finger.

“Boop,” she says, smiling.

The fur she used to make him had been found outside a fabric shop– cast-offs, of what surely had been intended for some piece of furniture (black and white furniture).

The stuffing though, that was special, because the stuffing had come from bits of torn cloth recovered from the cloak of Achilles, and also, because she had had it–a piece from the laurel that Hercules had worn on his brow as reward for slaying the  Nemean lion.

 Or was it the boar? She wonders.

Her memory is missing pieces, some are small and some larger. Occasionally she takes a step back from them and looks from above, like they are a jigsaw puzzle, assembled on a kitchen table. She can see where the pieces are missing but she doesn’t know what is missing, and she feels sad.

But I remember that damn eagle though she curses–her hand moving of it’s own accord to just below her chest. Her liver is fine, it just feels like it’s been chewed on.

She hears a chuckle, and is only mildly surprised to realize it’s coming from her own mouth.

“You’re getting senile old Titan,” she laughs with a fleeting touch of genuine happiness, her eyes catch her reflection in the mirror again. The face looking back at her is young, with smooth skin and red lips; she’s surprised at the softness in her voice.

“I’m a woman again,” she says, more for the sound then the statement. “I wonder why I chose woman?” She thinks aloud, chewing on the words and at the novel taste to them.

            Male or female, I guess it doesn’t really matter, although, I wonder if I am making up for something? Many years ago she had known a man named Jung, and a man named Freud. Perhaps they would be better suited to answering that question than she.

“Ugh, no more of those accursed ink blots,” she mutters as she returns to her stitching.

thisguyhere / Pixabay

Her hands dance over the mostly finished stuffed bear, and the needle flashes like lightning with each stroke.

She leans in, and she bites through the thread, it tastes like marshmallow for some reason.

Did Ariadne give me this? She wonders as she knots the thread–it’s finished. She tucks the needle into the cuff of her shirt, which looks red in this light but could also be orange under a different glow.

Reluctantly, she lowers the bear onto the worktable in front of her, there are thirteen other bears there as well, each different but each the same.

With eyes are shining in the flickering light and she takes a step back from her finished work and rubs her chin (an affectation from another life).

            “Now you need only two more things, and lucky for you they are mine to give.” She says to the black and white bear with yellow eyes.

“First,” she reaches into a box behind her, and there is a clattering noise (like when rummaging for cutlery in the dark). “You need a weapon,” and from the box she pulls out a spoon. She looks at it surprised, as if her choice had not been her own. She moves the spoon in her hand, spinning it between her fingers, which she notices are long and agile.

“Ah!” She exclaims, ‘I should have recognized this from the start.” She places the spoon in the bear’s paw. “This is the mace of Hercules, thought lost during the third Temenos war. It is a weapon of the just and brave and the Shadow Darkly shatter like old plaster at it’s touch.”

She smiles as the bear’s paw closes around the handle of the spoon.

“And now, gentle warrior, you need a name–one for which the Shadows Darkly will fear and flee back to the realm beyond the closet.”

She sifts through the piles of her memories, gathered at the foot of her thoughts like piles of old leaves.

“Ah,  yes,” she says finally, “Arctos,” and as she says this she looks at herself in the mirror, a lock of blue hair has fallen over her left eye. “You just named him Bear,” she snorts at her reflection and shakes her head.

“Well I guess that’s as good a name as any, and at least it’s descriptive.” She raises her index and middle finger, pressed together and moves them to her lips.

 She whispers a name–“Arctos.”

She touches the left foot of the bear with the same fingers; when she removes them, the name Arctos is stitched there in bright red thread.

The bear’s eyes glow momentarily and she picks it up to put with the other thirteen bears.

“Fourteen bears for fourteen children,” she rests her hands on her hips and smiles in weary satisfaction.

            “Bellerophon, Artemis, Heracles, Jason, Meleager, Athena, Perseus, Achilles, Theseus, Atlanta, Aeneas, Orpheus, Cadmus, and, now Arctos.”

She whispers, and as she says each name their eyes glow briefly.

nightowl / Pixabay

“I charge you all to choose a single child, one threatened by the Shadow Darkly, to use the weapons that I have gifted you, defend, protect and cherish.” Her hand touches the fuzzy stomach of each bear in turn as she delivers her charges.

There is a quiet growl that rumbles through the fabric of each bear–an acceptance of duty and a challenge to the monsters that lurk in closets.

She sits down, tired, the bears will be gone in the morning through an agency that is still unknown to her.

Each bear will chose a child, and will be for them a trusted friend, companion, shield and sword against the Shadow Darkly.

Prometheus cannot remember a time where he, or, she, did not fight against the darkness.

Throughout time she has worked behind the scenes, fashioning instruments, tools and weapons to help those that cannot help themselves.

She smiles at the bears lying on the table, armed and girded for the dark nights ahead. Furry little sentinels–a bright light in the dark.

“These are a lot harder to make than night lights,” she grunts. Her body is young, but she cannot escape the weight of years, and she feels every single one of them as she stands.

She is tired, and perhaps tonight, she will sleep. She glances down at Arctos, and her hand lowers to hover over his belly.

“Maybe, next time I will make one for myself,” she whispers  because they’re a defender she thinks, and not because they look so cuddly–she almost convinces herself. She raises her hand and runs her fingers through her hair.

“What is it with me and the colour blue?” She wonders aloud as she turns around and walks to the door.

“Be brave, be kind, be heroes,” she says to them as she leaves.

The light flickers and then sputters and then goes out.

A thing in the dark coils and twists–it makes a gleeful, awful noise, and it’s laughter is a wet sick thing.

In answer, from the table there is a rumble, as fourteen pairs of eyes begin to glow, and that rumble becomes a roar as fourteen weapons are raised,and then…and then in that dark, fourteen heroes stand.

            The darkness is about to learn what a thing it is to be afraid….