Suggested by: Dawn Chapman
-before her arranged marriage
-an enchanted tapestry
"The Weaver's Child"
The morning dawned cool and heavy with dew. Just three days and I would be wed. I rolled over on the massive bed and took a glance around the huge room that was itself twice the size of our little cottage, knowing that it would very likely be the last time I saw any of the small, important items my father had brought from home to make the parting easier.
My father's spinning wheel stood at the side of the room, its clacking rhythm silent for now. There was a skein's worth of freshly-carded wool, ready for him to spin. I loved to watch him, ever since I was young. His fingers fluttered, and his hands cupped the wool ever so gently, with the fine balance of grip that kept the thread consistent throughout.
There over the fire, his old brass kettle rested. I could see by its shiny-slick sides that there was hot water for me inside. Galvanized out of bed, I swathed my body in the ornate silk dressing gown dedicated for my use. Cupping my hand just like my father, I held the fiercely warm handle gingerly as I took the kettle off of the dancing flames.
I brought the kettle over to our table, where a cup and saucer waited—not just any cup, but the one I had claimed personally as a wee child. Something about the cracked brim had appealed to my romantic heart, and I had immediately asserted that no one else should use the chipped cup. My father had laughed at me, but then again, forever after that, he never failed to set the cup out for my use. Reaching for the cup, I glanced again at the huge cut ruby gracing my finger. Three days, and I would be bound in covenant to the man who owned this ring. He hadn't even bothered to come himself to deliver it, but sent a contingent of messengers to present on his behalf. He had not even used my name, Rayanne, but merely referred to me as "the Weaver's Child" in his letter stating his intention, that he wished to be married to me, in return for some favor bestowed upon my father. I was nothing more than a pawn in a business transaction to them. A pawn that would become the Queen of this land, Queen of Fortunu—and for what? Once again, the question unsettled my mind; what had been so important to my father that he would be willing to repay with the life of his only daughter?
I sipped my tea as I watched out the tall windows of this grand bedroom. My father and I had arrived the day before, and the King had received us with all due ceremony—meaning, he held a banquet and placed us in the seats of honor as he announced his forthcoming marriage to the petrified waif sitting at his elbow. I had glanced at my father, but he wasn't looking. He stared at something at the other end of the room, but I couldn't quite figure out what that was. He seemed to be gazing over the heads of the crowd, so it could not have been a person; the only things over in that area besides the massive floral arrangements (which, again, would not attract his attention) were the mirrors on the wall. So what was he looking at?
I sighed and glanced at the dress laid out for me: a tunic of light purple, with green and crimson skirts, and a blue kerchief to style my hair like the other Fortunan women. Finally dressed, I emerged from the room.
The evening torches lit the otherwise darkened halls of the castle when I finally found my father. He stood in the great hall where the banquet had taken place, in the very corner that had so captivated him before, and muttered to the wall. At least, I thought it was the wall.
I came closer; he seemed to speak and act as if a person stood right in front of him. As I stood a few paces away, he suddenly have a jerk.
"No, don't go!" He begged, but the mysterious other party had apparently departed. He wore a disappointed frown when he turned, but his face cleared when he saw me.
"Rayanne, my child! How fortunate we are!" He cried.
"How so fortunate?" I demanded. "Has he made you more than a weaver? Did he offer you a rank or title, that you would deem it important enough to trade your daughter?"
"Rank? Title?" Father shook his head. "What would I want with those? I am a simple man, I enjoy the freedom of a simple life not complicated by servants or serfs or taxes or crops."
"Then why?" My father surely had gone crazy; I had never known him to talk to persons who weren't there. Not even when he spun. "What are you hiding from me?"
"Nothing!" My father put his hands on my shoulders and turned me to face the wall. I saw my reflection in the mirror there; I looked like a little girl trying to play dress-up in her mother's evening gowns.
"I am hiding nothing from you, my dear. See? This is what the King promised to me."
My stomach turned. "A mirror? You traded my life for a mirror?"
My father lifted a gnarled finger. "Ah, but not just any mirror! This is an enchanted mirror, inhabited by the spirit Erised, and it will show me what others most desire! Don't you see?" He came around to face me again. I saw that old gleam in his eye, the one I hoped never to see again. "If I know what people want most, I can make better bargains to be able to give it to them, and get exactly what I want in return!"
"No!" I pushed him away, feeling sick to my stomach—and not from all the cakes I had samples that day. "Bargains? That is what you traded me for?" I backed away as I spoke. "You gave away your only daughter so that you could make stronger bargains?" When I saw he didn't have anything to say in his own defense, I turned heel and ran.
I ran back to the room. I grabbed the spool of golden thread from my father's spindle, and I grabbed the loom he kept folded in the corner. I had never used any of his things, but I had watched him for so long that as I set up the loom under the night sky, beside a still pond in the palace gardens, every movement felt like an instinct.
I threaded the golden yarn onto the sparkling weft, and began to push the shuttle back and forth. I could hear my father calling to me as he searched the castle, but I wasn't going to answer. If The Weaver could spin straw into gold and make young strangers' wishes come true, then perhaps his daughter could weave an enchanted tapestry to wish away her own personal nightmare.
"Ah-swish, ah-swish" went the shuttle.
"I wish, I wish," went my heart.
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