The petite girl’s raven hair cascaded over her shoulders, covering her face and arms. Her golden brown fingers deftly wove the glamour into the cloth. By touch alone, her small, delicate hands sewed the light of the between times into the fabric.
When she wove, the small, dark room with its concrete floor disappeared, and Jewell forgot it. She became a part of the tapestry itself, losing herself and becoming one with it. The magical silver light wove itself in and out of the tapestry, as it channeled its way through her.
Little could be seen in the small basement room at this time of the day, which made it safe for her to open the curtain and let in the faint predawn light.
Perchance if someone did look in, all they would see is the dim red light of the smoldering coals in the stove waiting to be stoked.
Because of the prophecy, it was against the law to be awake and out of bed during the between times. Nonetheless, Jewell could only put the finishing touches into her tapestries at this time of day, for this dim light held a luminosity all its own. This heavenly light could not be understood, only felt. Even outside, little could be seen at this time of the day—only a fraction of the sky, if one looked up. The sun had not yet begun its journey over the horizon.
Jewell spent a portion of each day sitting at her loom weaving. Her tapestries came to life from somewhere deep inside herself. The picture or design was pulled from the very air into the cloth without thought or purpose. The colors took on a reality of their own. Each hue she picked up in her slender fingers performed its own task in the scene that unfolded. All had their own destination in the overall design. None seemed accidental; all had their place.
If someone was watching, he might see a glimmering silver light spill from the window above her head. As it touched her hair, a chorus of colors played through her hair. From her head, the light moved through her body to her fingers and into the tapestry. This splendid light lit her from within. As it flowed out of her fingers, it became the thread she used. It was the precise material that made up the universe. Its essence was virtually undetectable, unless you knew how to channel it. Her birth rite was the ability to sew the radiant silver light of the between times into cloth.
The bewitching, faint light worked its way into all of her tapestries. Each time, the blaze of the light added something unique to them. It gave them a beauty beyond words and more. That more could only be detected by Jewell and the wearer of the fabric, for each piece held magic of its own woven into the splendor of the cloth.
The small black cat threaded its way in and out of her legs. Almost like a familiar, it became a part of her, aiding her as it danced. They became one being as they pulled in the power and glory that existed in the mystical universe and made it one with their souls.
“Sable, we have finished,” Jewell said. “Father will be able to take two textiles to market with him tonight. I believe these are the most powerful and beautiful of all the pieces we have ever made,” she told the little cat.
Sable jumped on her lap, and they sat for a moment. Jewell hummed a small tune, and the cat purred. Their voices harmonized together, and the song they made ushered in the dawn. Before she began each day, Jewell drew the curtain that she’d made out of one of her tapestries aside and let in the predawn light. Sometimes she opened the window to let in a bit of fresh air. The air could not be called clean, as full of soot as it was, but at least it rid the small room of its dank, musky odors—the smells trapped in a closed room from cooking, coal burning, candles, and human bodies.
When the dawn lit the morning sky, she would close their one small window. That window gave her the only glimpse of life outside her room. Through it, she could see a tiny bit of the world that lay just outside their small, gloomy basement. There was not much to see, only a bit of sky covered with the clouds that raced each other across the sky. There were times she could make out a corner of the building, if she stretched her neck and peered out of the corner of the tiny window. Most days she just enjoyed the slight breeze that moved through the room from the open window.
This brief time in the early morning, when she opened the window, became the only other time in her day when Jewell had contact with the outside world. Without that little window, she would have nothing but the one-half hour in the courtyard the law allowed her each day. She spent that period gathering water and washing their clothing. Not a minute remained to view the world around her.
With the growing light, Sable jumped from her lap, and Jewell stood and stretched. Her small frame shuddered from the chill that seeped through her body. So long had she sat motionless that the cold of the concrete floor and the stone walls had gotten into her bones.
The day has begun, she thought, as she pulled the tapestry closed. It is time to light the fire, get Father’s breakfast, and pack his lunch.
Even through the tapestry that covered their one small window, she could see the smoke and soot already filling the street. “I wonder how the moon and the light of dawn are able to find their way through the heavy haze. The ash from the factories and the soot from the coal stoves fills the air, till the sky is black as night,” Jewell told Sable.
“It is father’s short day at the factory, Sable. He gets so tired from working so many hours. I wish I could help him by working in the garden or going to the market.”
I wonder if he considers Sunday short, she thought. Even though he spends eight hours that day in the church, still, he is at home earlier.
“I wonder what church is like, Sable. Did you know they do not allow women in church? Father told me, unlike the days when mother lived, they don’t teach women to read or to think anymore. I wonder why these men Father, talks about consider women too stupid to learn. He said they consider women the spawn of evil and not worth redemption.”