Saturday, March 24, 2012

Fate looked down at her loom and contemplated how to continue. She studied the two threads and their current positions in the tapestry.

“They’re both theatre students,” she thought. “Let’s start with that.” Her shuttle began to fly across the threads. The Boy went to college to pursue acting, but the age gap was too large. He’d be done by the time the Girl went to school. The threads are tugged, tightened, repositioned. The Girl is going to college two years early. They should just overlap. Only an attempt to twine the threads together causes a snarl. They’re still too far apart. The Boy went to college in Middle Georgia, but in order to go when she did the Girl is attending school in West Georgia. Fate looks down at her loom, selects a new thread, and begins to weave again.

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“No, there is nothing subtle about biting into someone’s neck in the middle of the street, even if she is a prostitute!” The debate was good humored as the participants argued about whether or not a player’s feeding had been as blatant as the storyteller thought. No one really gave any consideration to how their dining hall conversation might sound to the people sitting around them until the girl sitting alone at the table next to them turned around.

“Are you talking about Vampire: the Masquerade?” she asked. After a startled pause, they admitted they were. She joined the table and proceeded to regale them with stories of her game. She invited them to come play. There is a natural prejudice ingrained in table top gamers against LARPs (after all, even nerds like to feel superior to someone), but Fate was tugging at their threads. It sounded fun, and she was nice. Then she mentioned that it was in Milledgeville.

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Fate felt the threads tighten and pop out of her grasp. They were too taut and would never stretch that far across the loom. With a heavy sigh, she went back to the threads that surrounded the Boy and began to weave again.

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“What the hell are we supposed to do? Gabe’s no longer HST and they’re leaving the Org. We’re screwed.” The anger and despair was thick in the air.

“We could just start our own game,” someone suggested.

“But where would we play? Brandon controls the student organization.”

And Fate tugged at the strings that ran across the loom.

“I’m working as a Resident Coordinator at West Georgia now,” the Girl From the Dining Hall said. “We could play there. Just move the game to Carrollton.”

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Fate smiled as the threads all began to come together, but the smile soon faded. Though the threads were weaving in sections side by side, the thread of the Girl and the thread for the Boy never crossed. Fate managed to pull a couple of the threads that surrounded the Boy across the Girl’s path, but nothing came of it. Finally, a couple of the the threads surrounding the two became closely intertwined. They tugged at the Girl’s thread, trying to pull it over those last few inches to blend into the other section of the tapestry. Finally, with one hard yank, they succeeded. Fate almost cheered until she looked over and realized that, while she had been focussing on the Girl, the Boy had escaped to an entirely different, and largely inaccessible part of the weaving. The narrow margin by which they had missed each other was enough to make Fate bang her head against the loom. However, she only allowed herself a second to mourn before she picked up the threads again. And with a sigh, she sent the shuttle flying.

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The threads danced across the loom. Sometimes they grew closer together, sometimes even further apart. Once they even crossed paths, but not long enough to make much of a difference. Only a few threads continued to run between them, but Fate fought hard to keep those threads connected. Their weavings mostly revolved around others, though. Both threads grew a little more frayed. The Boy experienced traumas that reopened old wounds, and created new ones. The Girl discovered how love could lead to loss as well as heartbreak. Fate looked at the threads with concern at first, but as she studied them she saw how the rough edges made them more likely to grip to each other. If she could get them to cross again, it would not be like the last time; there were no longer any smooth sides to glide off of each other and into other parts of the tapestry.

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The Boy had been back from the war, and back in Georgia, for months now. He was feeling at a loss. In his mother’s small town he only really had his family and one friend. Too often he found himself alone with the crushing burden of still being alive. As he stared at his computer screen, longing for a better form of escapism, Fate tugged as hard as she dared. The thread had grown so thin and frayed that every pull risked snapping it. Her gamble paid off, however. On a whim, the Boy decided to go to Atlanta and see if he could find the game he’d started all those years ago.

“Does anyone have a place I could crash?” he asked at the end of the night. Back in Carrollton he would have gotten a half dozen replies. Now, however, there was only one house that could consistently accommodate travelling players. This was actually the way Fate wanted it, only she looked down to find an error in the weaving. The Girl and her husband weren’t there to offer crash space. Fate tugged at their roommate, but the thread was snarled and refused to budge. Finally, awkwardly, someone offered floor space. The situation was so bad that the Boy was convincing himself not to bother to come back. Fate looked at the fraying thread and began to feel desperate.

The threads were close enough now, though, that the errors in the Tapestry were much easier to fix than they used to be. With so many threads running between them, they were naturally drawn together. The Roommate returned to the house and began to tell his housemates about the game.

“... and there was a guy who is apparently an old player who came back. He was looking for a place to crash, but I didn’t want to just offer your house out to a stranger.”

“An old player?” they asked. “Who was he?”

“I think his name was J---- D----.”

“We know J---- D----!” they replied almost in unison. In truth, they’d only ever met him once, but they’d been hearing stories about him for years. The Roommate’s refusal to offer hospitality to a stranger was a point of disagreement in the household. The Girl and her husband always welcomed anyone who needed a place to stay, and felt the Roommate should have extended that courtesy. The Roommate did not, and would never, feel comfortable with this. However, the whole conflict was rendered moot when they realized who the individual was. The Husband sent out an email informing the Boy that he would be more than welcome to crash with them in the future. After his next visit to town put him crashing with friends an hour further out, this offer was the only thing that convinced him to come back one last time. And this time, the Girl was finally there.

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“Really? I thought you said ‘This potato tastes like sand.’ I mean, that’s what I heard anyway.” The Girl realized that she was correcting the story of the person it was actually about and began to feel a little self conscious. Until he replied,

“Huh, yeah, I think I said that, too.” And he looked at her, really looked at her, for the first time. “By the way, I’m J---- D----.”

“I know who you are,” she said smiling, “We’ve met before. I’m Anie. You’re staying at my house tonight.”

He blinked and focussed again on this pretty girl sitting next to him. He felt certain that he would remember having met her before, if he had. Of course, he didn’t remember the first time he met his wife either. It was a fact they had always found notable. He began to feel a little off balance.

Back at the house, an impromptu party was being held as other out of towners were also crashing there (and many people wanted the opportunity to see and socialize with the Boy again). Conversations flitted from topic to topic and the Girl walked into the dining room just in time to hear the Boy say, “I just don’t believe open marriages can work.”

Fate felt the thread twitch between her fingers and almost laughed with delight. There was nothing the Girl loved more than a challenge. She smiled, a flirtatious, sadistic smile as she replied, “Mine seems to be working just fine.”

The Boy found himself gaping awkwardly under her gaze as he tried to figure out how to reply. Before he could form a response, the girl at the end of the table changed the subject. The Girl was left with an unsatisfied desire to talk to him further.

The Boy continued to visit, and the two continued to talk, until every waking moment was filled with discussion. They texted, used messaging clients, and (when possible) slipped away for private moments of intense conversation. Soon the ache to be with each other grew too strong and they Boy and the Girl were forced to discuss the issue with their spouses.

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Fate had the tapestry well in hand now, however. All the threads were in the right places and she could see clearly how to weave them into the picture they were meant to form. Oh sometimes there were snarls that had to be worked out, but these were minor setbacks, easily overcome with a little patience. The two frayed threads grew stronger as they twined more tightly together. The threads danced as the shuttle pressed the weaving into place.

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Almost three years later, the Boy and the Girl are driving to a party in Carrollton. Their spouses are driving up in a separate car. It’s a trip almost guaranteed to make them nostalgic. They both have history with this city and this trip and it seems strange to them that this history doesn’t overlap. They’re comparing stories and memories, and discussing the early days of their relationship. The Boy grows melancholy.
“I just realized how fragile it all was,” he says, as he begins to choke up. “If one little thing had been different, we never would have met. We never would have gotten together.”
In a different part of reality, Fate rests her head against her loom and laughs until her sides ache.

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