“Very nice, dear,” murmured the teacher as she glided past the small child. Martha frowned at the obvious lie, but continued her stitchery without comment.
This morning’s Creative Arts class had the theme “The Fall of Terra”. Each student was allowed to illustrate the theme in whatever way they liked, then go to the arboretum to play. One small boy had decided to paint a picture; it hadn’t looked much to Martha, just a central blob with red and black swirls and silver lightning almost covering it. Since she was quick with her needle, she had chosen to portray the ending with embroidery silks on a small sampler, despite the fact that some of the more superstitious folk said that spells could be woven into samplers. She had managed to create the stars with silver thread, and flames with scarlet were easy – but there was still a central hole in her canvas where Terra would sit.
Martha considered the problem. Anything blue was banned by the government. Green was frowned upon. Even the words were only used as swear words or for playground nastiness. So how was she going to sew a blue-green planet? She stared out of the window at the copper-coloured sun in its beige sky and the golden sands spreading across the park. They said that, once upon a time, there had been grass there – and it was green. That the sun had been yellow. Some even said the ultimate heresy – that this planet was actually what was left of Terra itself. But that was whispered, rather than said, and the older people, who still believed in religion, muttered prayers under their breath to ward off evil spirits – sounded like O’kangan, or some strange word.
She looked back at her sampler, and sighed. Maybe she should have done as Freddie had done, and painted black and red swirls. Painted, she snorted. He just tipped the pots onto the paper and slapped the brush around aimlessly. Glance out the window, back at the sampler. Back out the window…
But when she glanced back at her sampler, her heart quickened. There, lying diagonally across the fabric, was a slender skein of vivid blue silk. Lying next to it was a skein of deepest green. Martha looked around her, wondering how the skeins had got there, but there was nobody sitting near her.
Then she heard a man’s voice behind her.
“Just sew,” it said.
“Who are you?”
“Doesn’t matter,” answered the voice. “Nothing matters anymore.”
The voice sounded bleak, as if it didn’t even have any room for sadness, yet it made you ache with anguish – and then wonder why you felt so wretched. Martha bent her head over the sampler, and threaded her needle with the beautiful blue embroidery silk. She paused to admire the shimmering azure – not many people saw the colour blue these days; they weren’t allowed to – then her needle flickered in and out of the material and created a blue-and-green orb right in the centre. Happy that she had finished, Martha laid the sampler neatly on her desk and ran out to the arboretum to play.
When she returned, she looked down at the sampler proudly – and then covered her mouth with her hands in shock. The fabric lay where she had left it – but this time it was ripped down the middle. The blue-green orb was gone. In its place was a small piece of card.
“Thank you. Adam.”
About The Author
Ros Haywood is a technical publications librarian, living and working in Somerset. Doesn’t mean she is only technically a librarian! just that she deals with technical publications like manuals…
In her spare time, she is a family history consultant for her Church; in her other spare time, she writes fantasy novels (she is a Goodreads author) and two blogs, and in her other other spare time she does the technical-librarian thing.
Ros takes part in the annual madness which is NaNoWriMo, and her first two books were Star Trek novels.
Oh, and she plays the piano, too…