Flavia removed the tapestry from the loom and with a pair of scissors she cut the fringes. How many did she have now? Will there be enough to sell as a set? She hoped so. On top of an antique table there was a pile of tapestries. Each one reflected something, but at the same time it was the continuation of the previous one. When separated they didn’t seem to be anything, however, put together and in a special way, the observer could see how the colours had a strange regularity. Red always stood out as the strongest, in spite of the fact that at times it appeared in the middle of the design, at the beginning or even at the end: nearly always followed by white, blue or pale green. There was another curiosity, violet was very dark, while black was very shiny. Seeing the colours like that, violet was more like the church during Holy Week, than the violet of wild flowers, a reminder of woods smelling of recently fallen rain. Black was midnight black shining with almost imperceptible stars, of broken promises of love and journeys to the moon. These two always went together, sometimes violet was the first one and then black, or visa versa, but always together. As a challenge to the rest of the colours there was a stripe of strong yellow crossing the tapestries diagonally, like an enormous ray of sunlight. This was her, Flavia.
Flavia had forgotten all about time, neither did she remember when she had started to weave; she only knew the feeling of peace every time she was going to begin a new piece, and the happiness with which she chose the graduation of the colours. At the beginning she had thought of making six, then twelve, but now she only had to weave two or three more to make up two dozen.
Everything we embark on in life has a feeling, an emotion – its own colour. The tapestries reflected Flavia’s experiences. The first were easy to weave, but now that she was approaching the present she didn’t find it so easy. Flavia let her eyes caress the colours, as if she were looking for an answer from the colours themselves. The silent, naked loom waited to be used. She left her mind blank in order to let in what she had not wanted to see. At first she cried every time this happened, but now she almost felt an enormous relief. Flavia’s hands played with the threads mixing the colours, putting them in order and at the same time mentally relaxing herself.
She closed her eyes and pulled out a thread. It was royal blue. She stopped to reflect on the colour. Oh, yes now I remember that boy who we called ‘The Taker’. He wore a sweater in this shade made by some girl who had given it to him because she felt sorry for him. Flavia began the tapestry with her fingers flying among the threads from one side to the other, exorcising one more part from her painful past. ‘The Taker’ of course had a name but nobody used it. The nickname was more appropriate. How had he managed to enter the group? It was the fault of that boring blond who had brought him along. Now Flavia cut off the blue to mix in pale pink. Blanche, whose eyes were too pale and her hair an indifferent blond. That girl was neutral all round but like many people of the same stamp she had the ability to cause traumas and problems everywhere she went, leaving behind her a total disorder.
At the beginning everyone felt sorry for him. He was so ugly, thin, and with the air of not having eaten a decent meal in a long time; women were continuously treating him. Flavia had been the first to fall, but was also the first to see what he was about. Once you realised this, his behaviour was as transparent as glass. Somehow he could smell lunchtime or dinnertime. For some time Flavia had no choice but to put up with him, until one day she changed flats and didn’t give her new address to anyone.
Oranges, Christmas, snow. Flavia’s fingers were now working faster as if they knew the colour to choose and how many rows she had to make. Now the tapestry was half-done. Light green, spring when the leaves sprouted and the trees flourished before time. The last springtime among old friends who, seen from afar, were not such friends. Red, the red of dark roses and of a deadly passion, that then passed into the light blue of peace and calm.
She was on the last tapestry and it would all be finished. Flavia chose white to start off with. White, colourless, total light, without shadows, pure, heartbroken. The days without love, without giving affection, and without receiving it, these are white days, without anything or anyone. Violet, the passionate death, the passion of death, not a sterile death but a violent death. For injustice. Red again, lost love and passion, but this time, the black of a special night of light winds, the moon reflected on the sea, of being on deck, sky above, sea below, of feeling part of that continuity. Lemon, the colour of a pale and heatless sun, a rest for the eyes and emotions after so much passion, love and death. With a speed strengthened from exhaustion, she finished the tapestry.
Flavia put all the tapestries on the table, in the order of their creation. Altogether there were twenty-four. In the first ones red was dominant, the love of her life broken by that insidious person. Violet death, and the long black night. In the first ones there was a lot of red, later, in time, the light blue of heaven and of peace appeared with more space and more frequency.
Like a mother looking at her children, Flavia looked at her tapestries. The story of her life and of those who had entered and left it. She didn’t take long in tidying the room, getting dressed, and picking up the tapestries. In the garden of the isolated house, a spring breeze was blowing. Getting on her bicycle, Flavia couldn’t avoid the thought of how many springs had come and gone. The evidence of the past was wrapped in one parcel. In each weaving an episode of a lonely life, tormented. Flavia had removed from her body and her mind, all that pained her. Now renewed, she was on the point of throwing out the last vestiges of that pain.
They were the only thing she had, the witnesses that she was alive. They were her secret. For the purchaser they will only be tapestries of several colours, he will never know the sweat, the tears, the strong and the weak emotions represented here. And it’s better he doesn’t know, because he’ll have his own tapestry.
Creation has been my salvation and I don’t need to weave any more. Nor do I want to.
The owner of the tiny shop was astonished on discovering that Flavia wanted hardly any money for the tapestries. Flavia told the woman, who was used to haggling with people, that she had made them for pleasure, to keep herself occupied.
Flavia got on her bicycle and pedalled back towards her house. What did that woman know? How can you put a price on a life?
© Copyright 2016 Georgina V Solly. All rights reserved.