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This Is Just Another Yarn
by Ann Walters

In which the grand old themes of love, death, and knitting are explored while our heroine makes a classic journey of self-discovery and a hero is strangely absent.

It begins with Moira, who didnít think it would be like this, with a hundred skeins of yarn and a restless kitten. There is wool looping through the house, winding in and out of chair legs, through drawers, over and under tables. There is wool spilling from the ice dispenser in the side-by-side refrigerator/freezer. It looks like a childís game of Catís Cradle on a cosmic scale and Moira tries hard to remember which strand to pluck next, which finger to fold or raise.

Every so often the kitten yelps or squeaks or makes soft mewling cries for help and Moira follows the sound, stepping between lines of fluffy beige homespun, straddling delicate strings of silk laceweight pulled taut at waist level. When she finds the helpless creature strung four feet off the ground like a morsel in a spiderís web, she takes her time, pulling threads one by one until only a knotted piece of plied cotton remains. Moira takes a notepad from her pocket and writes in it to remind herself that this is where the yarn for the six matching placemats has gone, even though sheís never set the table for more than one.

About halfway through the story, Moira has a dream. Or maybe itís a hallucination brought on by extended hours of knitting coupled with too much chocolate. Whatever the case, the vision is surprisingly devoid of wool. There is no clack of needles, no gauge swatches in random blues, purples, and creams. The only sound is a manís snore, rumbling low and even like the train that used to pass downtown thirty years ago. The only texture is smooth, bare skin.

When Moira wakes up, the kitten has grown into a cat that uses its claws to knit Ė five projects going at a time and not a single one is for Moira. Is this gratitude, or retribution, she wonders.

She goes back to sleep and dreams of cold clear ice, of mountains shrugging glaciers from their shoulders like lacy white shawls. The shawls are whispering as they float away and Moira thinks she catches her own name just before laughter begins. When she wakes up this time, the cat has thrown down the knitting needles that used to be her claws and is packing a suitcase. Moira sneezes while the cat folds mohair sweaters, the fine hairs flying up her nose. There is something familiar about the catís laugh as she leaves, bumping luggage down the hall and out the front door.

Near the end of the story, Moira wanders the rooms of her house squeezing balls of yarn like fresh fruit and rubbing an unfinished sweater of soft angora/wool 20-80 blend against her cheek. She sniffs for something other than the fresh scent of handwashed knitwear, yearns for a moment that doesnít snag on rough walls or sharp corners. Moira reaches into the leather scabbard at her waist and pulls out sharp embroidery scissors. Yarn begins to fall like a plague of promises.

Also near the end of the story, there is music. It is subtle and unexpected. Moira wonders if the sound is new or if her ears have always been stopped with wool.

Just before the words THE END, Moira lets the scissors fall from her hand. They drop point first, stabbing into time, wedging themselves into the heart of memory. They land without a sound on a cushion of years.

Moira dances on a knitted grave.

All content in SmokeLong Quarterly copyright 2003-2014 by its authors.



Ann Walters lives in the Pacific Northwest. She occasionally steps away from her desk to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Her fiction has appeared or will appear in Flashquake, Kalliope, Staccato, The Hiss Quarterly, and others.

Read the interview.
Issue Sixteen (March 15, 2007): Heaven by the Highwayside by Mike Amato «» There Swells and Jets a Heart by Rusty Barnes «» Miss Hempstead's Brother by Myfanwy Collins «» This Is What You Left Behind by Tod Goldberg «» Ten Very Short Stories by John Leary «» Photographer and Model by Stefani Nellen «» On Mondays, Francesca Takes the Stairs by Cami Park «» Seven in the Morning by Max Ruback «» Baby in a Jar by Tom Saunders «» The Color of Moths by Holly Selph «» The List by Paul Silverman «» Glasgow Lullaby by Rob McClure Smith «» Night Birds by Craig Terlson «» Quake by Beth Thomas «» Deep in the Heart of Texas by Robert Travieso «» Disappearances by Jeff Vande Zande «» This Is Just Another Yarn by Ann Walters «» Travel by Nancy Zafris «» Interviews: Mike Amato «» Rusty Barnes «» Myfanwy Collins «» Alicia Gifford «» Tod Goldberg «» John Leary «» Stefani Nellen «» Cami Park «» Max Ruback «» Tom Saunders «» Holly Selph «» Paul Silverman «» Rob McClure Smith «» Craig Terlson «» Beth Thomas «» Robert Travieso «» Jeff Vande Zande «» Ann Walters «» Nancy Zafris «» Cover Art "A Gathering of Matisse" by Marty D. Ison «» Letter From the Editor
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