The Devil’s Tapestry

“Are you sure about this?” The Devil asked.

“I mean, I know I get a bad rap and everything but I’m nothing if not fair. You know people don’t realise that. It’s a hard gig where I’m from. I’m not always popular”.

“I’m sure” I said with steel-like determination.

“I just don’t want you getting into something you don’t understand you see? and then you’re mad at me after. That happened once with a guy in Texas — you know they really hate me in Texas…”

“I’m sure” I said again, repeating it slowly and calmly as if he were a small child.

“Alright” he cooed — lighting what appeared to be a fat clove cigarette.

“Just put your finger over here and we’ll get started”.

“My finger?’ I asked inquisitively. “Don’t I sign a big contract? A big thick one like those guys at the cross-roads who sign a wad of paper handing over their soul, just before they become the greatest legends of all time?”

“No, no. That’s a different thing. That’s not how this works. This is far more dangerous.”

I didn’t see how that could be possible. I mean, I wasn’t asking for any real super human power or anything. Tomorrow wasn’t going to be much different except that I’d be more blissfully ignorant, and not for a bad price either.

“You sure you only want me to pay in consequence? I mean I have some money saved up and I feel like you’re doing me a real favour here. Also, you’ve been kinda vague about what that consequence is, and I’m not coming back here once I’m done on Earth or anything. I mean, It’s a nice place but you know, I’ve got other places to be.” It really was a nice place.

“No. Just that”, he cooed again.

“You said you were fair, you remember that?”

“The Devil gave me his most reassuring nod and gestured for me to put my finger down on the thing. It wasn’t a particularly scary looking thing — sort of like those fingerprint scanners you see at the bank, but it had a glowing orange glass.

“I can change that for you if you like?” The Devil asked. “Any colour really. Sometimes people prefer green, yellow — something as cheery as possible. And I think a smart girl like you knows, I’m in the business of customer service before anything else”.

“Sure, sure” I tell him, smiling widely at his warped humour.

“Alright now, shift it a little to the left and you’ll start to see a map. On that map is a line of images. Well it’s not really a line but sort of. You’ll see some things you recognise, some you don’t — but they all happened, somehow. I’ll show you which thread to pull and you just use your other hand to gently unwind it, but don’t get too carried away, you’ll make a mess.”

“Hmm” the Devil purred thoughtfully. “Okay it’s this one”. He gestured to an interwoven thread, half mauve, half a dark blue. Just unwrap it ever so carefully, just there at the start. Use your nails not your fingertips and be careful not to touch the others.

As I put my finger to the thread, I found a sudden smell of smoke creeping up into my nose: smoke and shampoo. “What’s happening?” I asked, quite alarmed.

“Oh don’t worry about that, it’s just a bit of the time. You know all the senses are intertwined. You may get a few whiffs or sounds here and there but they’ll change as the thread moves so don’t be afraid. Just focus on carefully unwinding the thread”. His face was starting to give his eagerness away.

“Are you telling me I’m going to have to relive them? The memories?”

“Maybe a little bit but just for a little while. Now do you want to get this done or not?”

“Alright alright” I said, pushing through my sudden fear and anticipation.

I stood still for a minute allowing the smoke to fill my nose.

I was in a room, an oddly familiar one, but it was so far away I couldn’t be sure that “in” was even the right thought to think. “I’m so young” I said out loud. “Hmm that’s a bit unusual but nothing to worry about, nothing to worry about. Carry on”.

The dank smell of smoke was coming from the room and the curtains and everything else its spirals touched. I am young and I feel strange, as though something isn’t there but I can’t say what it is. Maybe I’m different somehow, maybe something is wrong. I can’t say for certain and I grow frustrated so I pull the thread. Again, a cloud of smoke swells around my eyelids.

I am cold and I feel an aching in my chest, sitting outside Brandon Gates’ house. His mother doesn’t like me, I know it. I quite liked him. Not very much but enough to be sitting down thinking about it. Again something that feels as thought it’s supposed to be there is not. Is it already working? Is it the thread that I am pulling out?

Suddenly it’s cold and I’m looking at myself in a mirror. My face is still young, pudgy, unlovable at this point. I am only with myself. This seems right to now-me but not then-me. Then-me is very displeased. Then-me is bored and wanting.

I pull on the thread, feeling its course linings scratching against my skin. “Is it getting warmer?” I ask, but the Devil does not reply.

I pull straight through that one, I can’t handle the burning sensation in my fingers, which seems to grow the longer I pause. Next, I am in front of a gate — a silver gate. It’s small and spinning. I am clean. My hair keeps brushing against my shoulders. Something bright is in my eyes but I feel good. I look quickly at a closing door carrying precious cargo and wait for it to be gone. I know this one. I know where this one is. I know about what time it is. I smell what I could smell. I see what I could see. I hear it all again in my head. It’s the most bitter-sweet moment as it’s pulled away from me and I force myself to unwind the thread more quickly.

I’m standing on the pavement, on a corner. I am not alone.

I instantly pull the thread.

I am crossing the street feeling a strong sense of worth, blocking out the irritating noise of the cars, keeping in the words.

I pull the thread.

I am lying in my bed, mind full of thoughts, lungs full of breath.

I pull the thread.

I am gliding across the shoreline off to an imaginary house.

I pull the thread. I start not to want to again but I keep pulling at it like a plaster on an especially hairy part of the body.

“CAREFUL” the Devil yells. “Careful, you almost knocked that one”. The green one. I don’t care about the green one. I don’t know what it is though so I exercise a bit more caution just in case I would if I did.

I am trapped in a song.

I pull the thread. I hear its chorus fade out as I go.

I am lost in someone else’s mind.

I pull the thread.

I am helpless.

I pull the thread.

My chest is heaving and aching.

I pull the thread, with a determination so fierce not even the devil himself could stop me.

I am sitting in a cold chair. I am uncomfortable but so happy.

I stop pulling for a moment just to feel a light breeze on my face. There’s a warm and full feeling inside of me now. I feel as though I could conquer anything. That every question has an answer, that every story makes sense. I linger as my fingertips start to burn. They start to burn fiercely but I cannot bring myself to pull anymore.

“Pull the thread. Do you want to lose a hand? Pull it!” The Devil hissed.

This is why I’m here. I’m here to forget.

I pull the thread.

Something brushes against my face and my chest.

I pull the thread.

“You’re almost there”.

I pull and pull.

I hear a song that is so perfect it crashes against me.

I pull the thread.

And as it comes out on the other side, I think.

“Thank God it’s over”.

“No, thank me” says the Devil. “God’s who caused this all in the first place”.

“Now gently pick up the tapestry” he commanded.

So I lifted this beautiful thing, barely aware of anything that had gone before, feeling only relief and assurance now with a slight memory of nothing. But as I lifted the cloth to my face, ready to seal the agreement and suffocate myself with it in one way or another, the threads began to quickly unravel in my hands.

“Oh shit” said the Devil, eyeing the growing bundles of chaos…

“Something’s wrong”.