Grandmother’s Strings by Catherine Connolly
Bidziil wants to tell Spider Grandmother before it is too late. The strings bound in – out – across his lips prevent him, as he quails. They are taut on his numb lips. He imagines they bleed, though there is a gap where the truth should be. The missing minutes – hours? – gape black in his memory when he seeks them. With them they have taken the daylight, leaving only pitch in place.
“What you say?” Grandmother demands, waving gossamer attached at her fingertips before him.
Bidziil gazes at the wizened woman, helpless. The threads – criss cross –– across his lips prevent his answer.
“No matter,” she says, as his tears fall. “Talking God told. His winds whispered well. You wind into my weaving or I boil your bones, yes?” She pauses, considering. “Your choice. You speak?” she asks, sharply.
Bidziil watches, wide-eyed – webbing straining across his mouth; hands tied to the tree forks splayed right and left behind him.
“Bad child!” Grandmother says, frowning. Creases form deeply on her brow. “I teach you to heed before your bleaching! Then you join my collection, no? Your bones shine on Spider Rock.” Thin fingers clutch Bidziil’s own, though he cannot feel it as the bindings are snipped from his hands by claw-like nails. He stumbles to his knees.
“Up!” Grandmother demands. “You work or you boil. Yes?”
Bidziil nods fervently, his mouth remaining bound.
“Perhaps I cut other strings if you behave,” the woman says, eyes hard. “You prove not a bad boy first. You see?”
Bidziil nods again.
“We weave with shadow,” Grandmother says. “Quick now! ‘Til fingers bleed!” She holds her hand towards him – thread floating with the movement. Bidziil grasps it clumsily.
“We wind together – yes?” Grandmother says. “I show. You watch. Close now!” The woman laces web with dew from the tree’s branches, where it glistens in the moonlight. Throwing it high, it catches – pinpricks forming amidst the black. Bidziil watches, eyes raised. “See? Stars, yes? We make our Glittering World, nightly. You try now,” she bids.
Bidziil casts his thread skyward – seeing patterns created; concentrating. He only glimpses the long bones by his feet from the corner of his eye.