"Will you tell me what I want to know?" Lydia asked, her hands clenched to her chest. "I've traveled all this way. You have to answer me."
A woman raised her eyes from the loom and looked at Lydia. The loom dominated the room; the large wooden frame filled with a complicated array of strands all coming together to be woven whole. The woman working the shuttle back and forth was middle-aged. Her brown hair was marked here and there with gray. Pleasantly plump, she reminded Lydia of her aunt, but the piercing blue eyes were nothing like the jolly woman she had grown up with. These eyes seemed to measure and weigh her soul.
“Please,” Lydia began again, glancing at the other two women. The young one sat beside a spinning wheel, turning piles of roving into yarn. Long golden hair floated down her back like the wool she worked with. The older one wielded a pair of shears, her hair as gray as the good steel, and cut the yarn. “You have to help me.”
“We have to do nothing of the sort,” the middle-aged woman spoke, her hands never ceasing. “We cannot be forced.”
“The gods themselves bow down to us,” the young woman said.
“We do not give in to demands,” said the elder.
Lydia choked on a sob, her hands clutching at her hair. The black strands stuck up in a rats nest, displaced by the worrying fingers. She dropped down to the hard wooden floor and clutched her knees to her chest. She looked up through her tears to find all three pairs of blue eyes watching her carefully. “I’m not asking for you to change his fate. I know I can’t. But please, just tell me, will he live? Will he grow up? Please. That’s all I want.”
The three exchanged a glance and the crone moved to the mortal woman. She soothed a bony hand across her back and helped her stand. “Come now, child. Fate is not for mortals to know. But we will show you something.”
Lydia was led to the loom where the crone pointed out one thread woven brightly into the tapestry. “This. This is your child.”
“Here he is now,” the weaver said, gently, pointing to the strand at the edge of the fabric.
“Here he will die.” The crone pointed down the loom, almost a yard.
“That is all we can show you.” The youth said gently.
Lydia looked, and looked again, and then began crying once more. She nodded to them all and hugged the crone tightly. “Thank you. Thank you so much.”
“Now go. Be a mother and cherish each day. That is all anyone can do.” All three spoke at once as the crone returned to her chair. The room began to spin and Lydia sat in the cold hospital chair once again, her infant son sleeping in the incubator beside her.