"The Gift"

 

by

 

Marilynn Byerly

 

The Fates' Grove on Mount Olympus
The dawning of the Christian Age

 

Magic flared in Clotho's cupped hands in a blaze of golden light, then faded to a hard sliver of gold. She stared down at what she had made. Would it be all she wished? Would it be the proper gift?

 

"Is it done?” With unseemly speed for a matron, her elder sister Lachesis ran across the moonlit Sacred Grove toward her.

 

Clotho sagged wearily down to her knees beside the moon pool and bowed her head. Her gift burned white hot with magic against her cradling palm.

 

"Is it done, spinner?" Her eldest sister Atropos hobbled to her and nudged her thigh with a bone cane. Her voice cracked with age, "Is it done?"

 

"It is done." Clotho held out her hands.

 

"A needle, 'paaah.'" Atropos spat.

 

Lachesis knelt and rested her hand on Clotho's arm. "It is a beautiful thing, youngling. You should be proud."

 

"A needle for mortal maids to make pretty things with." Atropos sneered. "A worthy gift, indeed, from our flighty baby sister."

 

"A needle can mend wounds so the body becomes whole," Lachesis countered.

 

Before Atropos could make another scathing remark, Clotho said, "I wished for much more than a needle. I wished for many things."

 

"What did you wish, little sister?" Lachesis asked.

 

"I wanted something that held a bit of each of us to go beyond when we are no more."

 

"When we cease because no mortal believes in us," Lachesis agreed.

 

"The sharp point is my contribution to that needle." Atropos cackled with amusement.

 

"No, eldest sister. From Lachesis, I chose wisdom. She has the wisdom to see within each mortal."

 

Atropos grunted in agreement.

 

"From you, I chose your great compassion." Clotho smiled up into Atropos' stunned face.

 

"I cut the thread of each mortal's life and bring death, and you call me compassionate?"

 

"You sharpen your scissors and pray for a swift and painless end. Death is not cruel, it is part of the tapestry of life."

 

Atropos shook her gray head. "Why is it, then, that you cry for the pitifully short thread of the sickly babe, or the maiden dead before reaching womanhood?"

 

"I cry for them, but I also cry for myself, and for you, my sisters. I cry for a life given but never savored. For Lachesis, I cry for her motherly heart and love, and her eternally empty womb. I cry for you, Atropos, for your aged infirmities, when you have never known youth or comfortable middle age. For myself, I cry because this young girl's body, just beginning to ripen, will never know a lover's touch, or his kiss. Will never know the love of one heart for another for all time. That is why I cry."

 

Swiping a tear from her own cheek, Atropos lowered herself gingerly to her knees so that the three women faced each other in a circle. "You become eloquent, child."

 

Lachesis took her sisters' hands. "We are one."

 

They chanted together the ritual words, "We are one together, we are one with the tapestry of life."

 

"My yearning for love is what I offered of myself." Clotho gazed at the magical gift. "I chose a needle because of the threads we weave to create the tapestry of all life. Each thread is one person's part of that tapestry, and the needle will help each to choose the right direction for her own portion of that great picture."

 

"It is a good gift." Lachesis hugged Clotho. "A very good gift."

 

"But what does your magical needle do?" Atropos asked.

 

Blushing, Clotho admitted, "I’m not certain."

 

"Then we must ask the moon pool." Lachesis motioned toward the water in front of them.

 

"Yes." Clotho leaned toward the silver waters of the scrying pool. "I ask for visions of the future, Sister Selene, Goddess Moon. I ask for visions of the future that my needle touches, visions that will tell me the true nature of this gift I offer mortals. I ask most humbly, Goddess Moon."

 

The three Fates leaned closer.

 

The silvered waters rippled and forms began to take shape within....

 

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