Ginger

Written by Nika Harper & Illustrated by Wednesday Wolf


Her eyes snapped open to glimpse a tiny gnarled body and frightening grin as it leapt out her window. It had been in the room with her. She shuddered, though didn't give herself the satisfaction of admitting she was scared. It could have been anything, small body like that. A toad. A flyer. But the fact that she didn't know what it was, that is why it worried her.


She didn't need to look around the room, she knew nothing was taken. Not yet. It wanted something else, that it didn't have yet.


Her hours were spent busy at a spinning wheel or in the company of others, but her eyes froze open at night as she looked at the window and slowly, drifted off….

And she found bits of dirt and gristle among the spiders as she spun their silk. And she saw his twisted little head in her dreams. And she did not speak of him to anyone, until she knew what he wanted.

It was not material. It was not skill.

It must be something much more personal than that.

She wove late into the night, brushing away bits of his dirt from her spindle, littering the floor with ginger dust and chipped fingernails. Her delicate fingers twisted shimmering threads of night onto a spool before her, as she thought, and she worried, and she did so all alone.

They come to you if they want something. If they’re told to.


Another night, and she noticed her bed held an odour, a deep rich scent of roots and moss. He had been there, too. He was still searching.


She twisted the thread in her hands, like strands of stretched stars, and her worries were woven in with them. She watched the dew squeeze out of the knots and ties, testing it in her hands for breaks and holes that would ruin her good name. She slept that night, soundly, in the comfort of a job well done.

Her eyes snapped open to a writhing figure who could see no stars, thrashing to reach an open window. His crusty limbs were wrapped in fine threads, sticking and knotting themselves like hangmen. The needles were in her hand as she stepped forward, ungainly from a night of rest, and pinned the spider net to the wall. He was trapped, doll-like and grotesque, smiling with glassy mismatched eyes and she only needed to look closer at him without letting him too near. She needed a hint, a sign, a way of seeing what had made him…

In a fierce wiggle, the thread broke with a sigh and he was out the window again, dashing faster than her eyes could follow into the thick darkness and fog. They are faster than anything that can be caught. It is their way, she knew, as she unraveled the net and unstuck the needles. The presence of night loomed in arms reach of her window, not daring to come any closer. She scooped the crumbled remnants of him into her hand and dropped them outside, the night receding another few inches from her touch.

They cannot be caught, she knew.

But such is the case of ginger, it lingers.