Stitches in Time

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Did you ever think some fairytales are so unreal, you just might think they have some real roots. Well this story starts with an old tale from the civil war, and ends in the present where a fairytale becomes a very real thing.

Submitted: July 01, 2008

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Submitted: July 01, 2008

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Stitches in Time
A short story by: Joshua Fraga
 
Fairytales. We have all read them, heard them, felt them. As children, fables and parables taught us the difference between right and wrong. In truth, a lot of life’s lessons can be told in a story. And you know the thing most puzzling about fairytales, no matter who you are, you have a favorite. Whether it’s Saint George and the Dragon or Little Red Riding Hood you know you have one. The sad thing about these stories is that in almost all of them, there isn’t one shred of truth in the entire thing. Most of them anyway, have no truth. There are some, stories a lot of people don’t even know. They are the local ones that start as legends. Almost anywhere you go in the world, you can find a tale that is so eerily good, you can’t help and wonder if it’s true. The kind of story that gives you chills whether it’s a ghost story or an urban legend. What if those tales were true? Everything has a beginning right? What if through the years, tall men became giants, and a hungry wolf became a hungry dragon? Words change through the waves of time, some stories end up completely different than when they started, and some… make new tales. Such is case of the story The Pearl Shell.
A long time ago, before the United States existed, there was a small family that lived of the edge of the Mississippi in Virginia. There lived a brother, a sister, and their loving parents. Times were tough for them, they fished for their meals everyday. The father worked in a small bank in Virginia, and the mother stayed at home. There was money, but not enough for all four of them, so things nip and tuck. There they grew up as young adults, still barely getting by. Now, the American Revolution was now happening all around them, and the young man wanted to fight the British. The father loved the son, but he wanted to warn him, “Life is about choices, you can choose to fight and maybe die for an ideal, or you can choose to stay here with your family, we are behind you either way, but once you choose, there is no turning back.” So he chose, he was leaving to fight the British in the morning. That day, at about dusk, he went to fish in the Old Man for the family’s dinner. He caught all the fish he needed, more than enough, he stopped because he thought if he caught anymore it would only be out of greed. He carried a net in his right hand and his pole in his left, and he went whistling down the bank of the Mississippi back to his house. He was about halfway there when he saw something moving on the bank. It was a fish that some how got out of the river and was flopping around on the grass.
As he sauntered up to the slippery animal, he looked closer at it and he noticed it did not look like an ordinary fish. The fins were bright gold and the scales had a pinkish color to them. He looked at it wriggling around on the ground when he was just about to pick it up ant put it in his net. Just then, help felt sorry for the poor fish, and he didn’t need anything more to eat, so he decided to throw it back in. In it went, and the shiney scales disappeared in the river’s depths. The boy turned to walk away when he heard the voice of a small girl, “Thank you, sir.” The voice seemed to be coming out of the water, but where, was someone drowning and he couldn’t see. Then he heard it again, “I could have died out there, again.” He looked down, and it was the fish, speaking to him from the river’s edge.
Bewildered, he knew there was only one thing to say, “Your welcome.” He turned to leave this oddity behind him, “I have to be going-“
“Not until I repay you!” the fish’s young female voice yelled as it cut him off.
“How is a fish going to repay a man? I don’t want to eat something as unique as yourself.” The young man asked.
“Here.” The fish said as he saw it swim to the bottom of the river. Now the river was very muddy where he was, and he couldn’t see what the fish was doing. He was gone for a few minutes, possibly looking for something? Then all of the sudden something shot out of the water like someone had thrown it beneath the surface. It glistened in the sunlight as it arched its way back down to the man’s hands. It landed in his palm as gently as if it were handed to him. The object dazzled in the light, it was small, pearl colored shell. It sparkled and glistened as he looked at it closer and closer. “It’s called a Stitch.”
“A what?” asked the young man back, with a look of misunderstanding.
“A Stitch. The shell, it’s called a Stitch.” Said the fish. “As in ‘a stitch in time’.”
What? ‘A stitch in time’? All these strange thoughts boiled down to one question, “Who are you?”
The fish began its story. “I was like you once. A little girl who didn’t life far from here. One day I drowned in the river while I was playing, and what ever power there is after this life knew I wasn’t ready to go, and saw fit to put my spirit in the likeness of this fish.” The fish let out a low sigh, “I wanted to see my family again, so there I lived at the river’s bank, right by my old house. But soon they left, and I could not follow, so here I stayed, for 50 years, not one bit of human contact or kindness, until now. So I wanted to give you this Stitch, for helping me.”
He looked even more puzzled than before, “What does it do?”
“It’s a relic,” the fish said, “a magical relic. It has he power to let it’s owner travel back in time 45 seconds.”
“45 seconds? What can you do in 45 seconds?” he asked the fish.
“It’s enough time to take back one mistake.” The fish said in a solemn tone. “But only the relic can choose the time to come to use, and it can only be used once in each lifetime it enters.”
“Where did you get it?”
“It’s the funny thing about relics, a lot of the time you can’t find them until the time is right. These Stitches are everywhere, right in front of your eyes, but it will not work it’s magic unless it is given to you. Now take it. You will never know when it might be needed, it might even change your life.” Said the brightly scaled fish. The young man thanked him, picked up his net filled with fish, and went home.
Now, years went by, the Revolution came and went, he got married, had children, all the time keeping the small pearl shell close to him at all times, yet nothing magical ever happened. This enraged the man, to think he kept up with this “trinket” all those years for nothing, a 35 year long practical joke. So he decided to destroy it. He walked out to his anvil and hammer and looked at the glittering white shell one last time before he set it on the anvil. He took a deep breath and brought the heavy iron hammer over his head. He paused for a moment, rethinking what he was about to do, and instinctively he brought the hammer down, smashing the small pearl shell into pieces and dust. He closed his eyes after it was done, ‘it was finally over’ he thought to himself, but when he opened his eyes the strangest thing lay before them. The Stitch was back in his palm as he had it before he destroyed it. He looked in his other hand, in it he was clutching the hammer as he did before. The Stitch had taken him back in time, to change one mistake, destroying the shell. He knew the magic was real, but for him in his lifetime, it was wasted. So he did what all fathers do when they are done with a family heirloom, he gave it to his son. He told him the story, and but the fourth or fifth generation to have the small shell, it became a myth, then after the shell was lost, it became a legend. After time, it was no longer a legend, it was just forgotten, rewritten as a story in a children’s book. That is where the story ended, but like I said before, some stories tend to make new chapters for themselves.
 
It was early May, and Jeffery was a busy, busy man. He had his whole life planned out and working for him. He had a beautiful wife, and a handsome 8 year old son named Kyle. Jeffery has worked for his refinery for 20 years, he makes enough money for his wife not to work, he has stock options, and with all the work he does, he still has time to make for his son. Jeffery Hale is a good man, a good husband, and a good father, but it can only go good for so long.
One day Jeffery was downtown, taking care of some paperwork he needed for the refinery’s safety expo they were going to have for the delegates of the city council. He was walking out of city hall with his papers in hand, when he turned the corner and tripped over a legless homeless man asking for change. He accidentally kneed the poor old man in the face and made his nose bleed. Even though he was hurt, he still took the time to help Jeffery pick up his papers before the wind blew them away. “Thank you.” Jeffery said timidly, peering around at what looked like the man’s broken nose.
“No problem brother,” said the bum in a scruffy voice, “sorry I got in your way.”
“No,” Jeffery started, “I’m sorry, I should have been looking where I was going.”
“No problem either way, accidents happen.” The man said as he fixed his rags up around his shoulders.
Jeffery was about to walk away when he decided to stay instead. “Can I help you, could you use some money or anything?”
“Well if you could spare some money for food I would appreciate it.” The old man smiled. Jeffery took out his wallet, he had more then enough money to give the man  for food, but then he got to thinking, life had been so good to him, why couldn’t he give a little back just this once. So he reached into his wallet and pulled out two hundred dollar bills, and without hesitation gave it to the man. “Thank-, thank-you, sir.” The man stuttered in disbelief.
“No problem, brother.” Jeffery smiled, “Don’t spend it all in one place now.” He turned to walk away when he heard the man yell.
“Wait, come back, I have something for you.”
“No, it’s okay.” Jeffery yelled back.
“Please, you are the first person who I think deserves this.” Intrigued, Jeffery walked back to the old man. He began to fumble around his neck under the robes and rags he wore and pulled out a necklace he had around his neck. The string looked like dental floss, but hanging on the end was the most beautiful shell Jeffery had ever seen, the old man held it out to him. “Take it, I can’t use it now.”
“What is it?”
“What does it look like?” the old man paused, “It’s obviously some kind of shell. But what makes this shell different from others is why I want to give it to you.”
“What do you mean? What makes it different?” Jeffery asked.
“A long time ago, I was drafted for World War II, and then I was sent to the Pacific theater. There I met a friend named Matt. Over the months we became closer and closer as friends until one day, he shot and killed on Iwo Jima. He died in my arms, but before he did, he gave me this. His last words to me were, ‘Everyone makes mistakes, but only one you can truly take back.’. I never understood those words until yesterday.” Then he turned his glare to Jeffery, fixing his eyes on his. “Do you believe in magic?”
“What?” Jeffery scoffed in disbelief.
“Hear me out,” said the man, shaking his hangs in the air, “I wore this shell around my neck in remembrance of Matt all these years. Even when diabetes claimed both my legs, and I was thrown out on the street. Yesterday, I had enough, I sat with a spike full of heroine on this very corner, I wanted to kill myself, just go out in a nice dream. You see, no one every showed me kindness, because of my drug problem, and I was left to myself, alone. So I sat there and thought about it for a bit, then I decided, ‘to hell with it’ and shot every last bit of heroine up. The world started to echo, and I could feel myself passing away, so I closed my eyes to started my endless sleep. But then I noticed something, the high was gone, as if it were never there, I opened my eyes and I was in the same spot with the spike back in my hand, it was full again. I had gone back in time. Then I remembered what Matt said all those years ago, about only one I can truly take back. I think that’s what he meant. So I threw the syringe away a decided to live my life, how ever it goes. Then today, I met you. You had the choice to leave me be, right where I was, but you chose to help me, so the least I can do is give you this. It may or may not be magic, but take it, please, as a token of my esteem.” He reached out as far as he could to hand it to him. Jeffery smiled and took it, and put it in his pocket. Then he turned again to walk away. “You watch!” the man yelled as he left, “Even the smallest mistake can have the most dire of consequences.” Those last words would be the ones rolling and rolling around his head for the next few months.
 
Over the next few months, nothing out of the ordinary happened. Jeffery lived his life happily with his wife and son. He went to work every day, brought home the paychecks, they when shopping and out to eat. Life was grand, but for some reason the could not get the old man’s words out of his head. He still had the shell, he didn’t know why, but he took the floss off and made it into a key chain. It gave him some comfort to have it with him, although he didn’t know why.
Jeffery loved his son very much, Kyle was his whole world, he would do anything for him. He was named after his big brother who died in a car wreck when Jeffery was only 12. Kyle was his little treasure, he would always take him out to do anything he wanted. The zoo, the park, the carnival, there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for his son. Today, they were going to go to the museum. He took the day off of work because it was the last day of the dinosaur exhibit, which was Kyle’s favorite. Kyle got dressed and got in the car quickly, waiting eagerly for his father. Jeffery kissed his wife goodbye and hopped in the driver’s seat of his Explorer. He started the car, and said in a playful tone, “Are you ready for some dinosaurs?!”
“Dinosaurs!” exclaimed Kyle, “Yea!”
“Buckle up.” He said to Kyle.
“Awww, but I don’t wanna. Can I just sit here? Please? I’ll be still. I promise.” Whined Kyle.
“Oh, okay,” he said reluctantly, “but don’t tell mommy, she’ll kick daddy’s butt.” Jeffery smiled. Like I said, there wasn’t anything Jeffery wouldn’t do for Kyle. They pulled out of the drive way and began to pull into the intersection when everything changed. All of the sudden, Jeffery and Kyle were back in the car again, “Dinosaurs! Yea!” he exclaimed. What was this? Deejavu? He couldn’t shake the weird feeling he was getting. He shook it of, and at the risk of sounding redundant to himself he said ,”Buckle up.”
“Awww, but I don’t wanna. Can I just sit here? Please? I’ll be still. I promise.” Whined Kyle again, in the exact same way.
He was going say okay when he remembered the old man’s words: “Even the smallest mistake can have the most dire of consequences.”. Then Jeffery said something to his son he normally wouldn’t say, “No,” he said sternly, “If you want to go, you will buckle up like I asked.”
“Okay.” Kyle said in a downed tone. He buckled himself up. Then just like before they pulled out of they driveway in made their way to the intersection. He pulled out slowly and without looking as well as he could have, he was ‘t-boned’ on the driver’s side but a large Mack Truck. It pushed and dragged him at least 50 feet before it stopped. Jeffery’s Explorer was wrecked, pieces of if lying in the street, he looked to his left to see Kyle was still safely buckled in his seat, a little banged up but he looked alright. His eyes began to open, “Daddy?” he asked as if he had just woken up from a nap. “Are you okay?” The son’s face turned to horror as he looked down as his father’s bloody chest and the large piece of metal that went through his back and out the front. Jeffery didn’t even notice he was so worried about Kyle. Kyle’s face was now shrink-wrapped in tears, “Daddy, are you gonna be okay?”, “Daddy, I love you., “Daddy please don’t go.” These were the last words echoing in his head as everything began to go black. By doing that one little thing, he could not change his own destiny, but he saved the destiny of those he loved, after all there wasn’t anything Jeffery would do for his son, including die. With his last bit of strength he reached for the keys in the ignition, and pulled the shell from the key ring, He grasped his sons hand one last time as he gave him the small pearl colored shell. “Keep it close.” He told him, “Daddy loves you.” And those were the last words Jeffery ever told his son.
Later Kyle would awake in his hospital bed, his mother sobbing at his side, fearing the worst. His eyes slowly blink open after if he were waking up for school. Kyle’s mom doesn’t see him yet, and she still weeps. Kyle takes his hand and puts it on hers, the one clutching his leg. Kyle’s mom gasps, and she slowly looks up at her now away son. The tears grow overwhelming for her, but they are no longer tears of sadness, but of joy. He tells his mom that everything is going to be fine and she kisses his clutched hand, in the other he holds the odd looking small shell. The last thng his father ever gave him. His mom weeps more and cries to him, “I don’t know what I would have done if you had died too.!” She cried, “I would’ve killed myself if I lost both of you.”
He smiles at his mom and says, “Mommy, stop crying, Daddy loved us.” And that fact was enough to stop her cries if only for a moment, after all, a broken family is still a family after all. Kyle would also keep the shell close to him, his father’s final wish, although he doesn’t know why. I’m sure he’ll find out though, after all, stories have a way of sometimes making new chapters
 


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