The townspeople knew when to avoid Zabrina. Her body, she would murmur, was a bundle of sharp sticks slowly splitting her skin. A darkness that was unnatural by some accounts. She would sleep in the mornings, which was, of course, the devil’s hour of rest. Unfinished hems of dresses were scattered about the floor of the mud-cake abode, needles left facing whichever way a foot may sheath it.
During these moments, any person would know where Zabrina was. A silent weeping, a shattering of something, a dry-faced Abuk running out of the doorless house shirtless and unfazed.
Her son, Abuk, would try to wake her up, try to make her move, in fear of something he could not see behind the dull almond eyes she wore like ornaments. Perhaps after this grand feat was attempted, the trophy would be a pugilist’s black eye, or a scratch from her claws. Dry-faced Abuk would leave the house anyways, the eye hidden by a hand, or the blood smeared to seem a sort of accident. “Sand will sting today,” he thought, and would wander around Jenna, in search of nothing in particular.
Sometime afterwards, the vile, uncomfortable aura Zabrina would give off would shed, and the new madness would take hold. “Aye, she, Lady Zabrina, be good with thread and string. A true performer or something of it, I could say,” said Minhejj, the local shopkeep. “But the lady is also a right bitch to her son and the townsfolk. Her son, that’s her fruit. But us? We give coinage, and if it weren’t for her work, to supply us when weddings arrive, or a pure cloth is in need for an elder’s death, her and that boy would be in search of a home elsewhere.”
Threaded string would fly past the air like tendrils, zipping into the attire she was making. Colors would meld into a cacophony of reds, greens, and yellows. Blues and violets were a rarity. This did not mean they weren’t used. Zabrina would twist a thin thread of azure she held from her mother, and her mother before her. She would make sure Abuk wasn’t there, which by her admission was ‘never a problem’. Now, in her hidden crevice beneath the bed, laid a thick bulb of blue thread. Such remained that two viziers could be outfitted with a noticeable amount of a deep, layered ocean’s-wave. That is to say, if sold to the Jennan Chief, a large home with doors, windows, a floor! But that’s something Abuk would want. A twinge of something in her chest moved, tickling her senses in an odd, jittery crawl. As soon as it arrived, it left, and in the black corner where she sat, the spool was the only thing that caught her eye.
A piece took anywhere between three days to a month. After it was finished, Zabrina would run to the shopkeep or the depot. Whenever a piece was crafted and shown to its customer, and praise naturally followed, Zabrina would hold back her emotions, and save them for closed doors. Abuk would be home again, reddened and blacked by the Koufti boys most likely, and while she noted that maybe she should do something, her heart was still in flight. Looking at her hands as a slow whimper came from Abuk’s cot, she thought, Your gift has not gone wasted, God.
About the Author:
Husien Hammad is a graduate of UW-Parkside. His work has been published previously in Straylight Magazine, as well as in Flexible Press’s 22 Under 22 Anthology.