Fiction: Unraveling by Gregg Williard

During the cold snap the RV was unheated and filled with your stuff such as it was, and a pair of old yellow galoshes on the floor and a Charlie’s Angel poster on the ceiling and trying to warm things up by burning the poster set everything on fire. Singed and smoking the boots warmed your feet but melted holes in the snow, and while beating sparks out of your denim jacket a You Tube video showed the story of the Gordian Knot until the firetruck came. How do we untangle it? One after another tried, and finally somebody in a cloak just cut it open with a sword. You couldn’t get the smoke out of any of your clothes and had to throw everything away and start over. How to get corporate logos and labels off of bags and clothes you have to buy from Goodwill without ruining them? Patiently, with a little seam ripper tugging out threads without damage, it’s slow but possible, what with the new patience. A lap full of pulled threads piled up looking like spiraling incense ash, something to read your fortune in. Later you started making your own clothes with a Goodwill 1950’s sewing machine built like a tank, a soviet tank (though the machine was German, a “Pfaff”), the design 1940’s Rocket Man helmet, Eisenstein-Alexander Nevski Germanic helmet, meant for being bashed in by Russian peasants with cudgels and bludgeons and axes and laughing beards in the Battle on the Ice while learning that Cinema was love. The Pfaff’s spindle was up and to the left of the machine’s head, like threads of thought, though not ballooning out from the head but tugged down to the needle to turn thoughts into deeds of stitch. It was Alexander (The Great, not Nevski) that cut the knot after burning down the RV! Penelope was the one with the loom. She kept pulling out the threads too, so she’d never finish the burial shroud and marry one of the suitors who were all betting that Ulysses would never come back from the war. She stalled and unraveled for three years. Or Ariadne outside the maze, who gave Theseus the ball of twine to get back out of the maze. The Pfaff machine fed the thread to the needle while learning that myths are everywhere and books and movies are love. You can unravel a lot in three years. And still not ruin everything in the process.

Gregg Williard has been published most recently in New England Review, Free State Review, Litro, and Petigru Review, among others. He teaches ESL to refugees and does a late night book reading show on WORT community radio.

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