Friday, October 25, 2013

Prompt: Midnight in the fractal garden

Thanks to Tatiana Kondratova for permission to use her beautiful fractal image "Ledi Makbet"!

Sarah balanced on the broadloom pedals, sliding the shuttle side to side, pulling the cross bar close to seal each slender line of the fractal design. It was easy to get lost in the rhythm. Left foot down, right hand push, left hand return, right hand catch, left hand pull the bar, right foot down. She wove herself into the fractal dance.

Tonight, she kept an eye on the chrono, not losing herself completely as she usually did on the loom. She hadn’t told Lari her plans. The child would never have gone to sleep if she’d known. As it was, she had drifted off on their sleeping mat above the loom, lulled by the familiar sounds of Sarah’s steady rhythm.

Lari was too small to operate the big loom, but she was already a master weaver on the tabletop. Sarah had to admit Lari’s sense of design was already better than her own, and she was considered the town master. Lari would be able to go anywhere as a fractal weaver. Sarah never wanted to leave Jemena. She loved the comfort of familiarity. But ever since she could walk and talk, Lari had wanted to explore and know more. Sarah already knew that one day Lari would leave her.

Sarah knew her mother would have disapproved of her plans. “She’s too young,” Mama would have said, shaking her head and tapping her shuttle on the table. Even once she was too old to work the foot pedals for long, she still kept weaving on the tabletop loom until her hands were too curled and weak to hold the shuttle any longer. She had died that winter, no energy for living when she could no longer weave. The world queen would have envied the fractal robes she wore to her grave.

Sarah had buried Mama’s cherished fractal roses with her. All but one – the first one Mama had taught Sarah to use, before she took Sarah out into the garden at midnight to choose her own fractal rose. Sarah could still remember the night Mama woke her in the still darkness. “Come, my love. I have a surprise for you. We have to go out to the garden.”

“Mama, I am so sleepy!” Sarah had yawned as wide as her mouth would stretch, rubbing her eyes and pulling her hair from her face. Mama wrapped a blanket around her and pulled her from the sleeping mat. “Come on, sleepyhead!” She teased. Sarah couldn’t remember seeing her mother so excited. She looked younger, with a girl’s smile on her face.

Remembering now, so many years later, Sarah realized her mother had been young then. Younger than she was now. She stowed the shuttle and climbed off the pedals. The floor always felt extra flat and unmoving after she had been on the loom for a long time. She thought it might be like being on a ship. She’d heard that people complained about how odd it felt to walk on land after rolling on the sea.

It was time. She climbed the rope ladder and felt her own excitement rise. Opening the wooden box she kept at the foot of the bed, she poulled out the tray of fractal roses, some still glowing after all these years. Running her hands over the familiar patterns, like old friends, she lifted the one her Mama had first given her, then the one she had chosen that first night in the garden. She sat on the edge of the mat and stroked Lari’s bright yellow hair. “Come, my love,” she said softly, echoing Mama’s voice from years ago.

Lari woke easily, not the sleepyhead she had been. Her eyes lit on the flowers and grew wide as saucers. She knew without being told. Jumping up, she pulled the blankets from the mat around her shoulders. “Let’s go, Mama! Let’s go!” She tugged Sarah’s hand to pull her up from the mat and led the way down the ladder, bouncing in her excitement.

Together, they went out to the garden, lit by the full moon. Even without it, their path was well marked by the glow of blooming roses. They opened at night, reaching their full flower at midnight. Jemena was revered throughout the world for her fractal rose gardens. A fractal rose plucked at its peak would bloom forever and inspire the artistic designs of whoever held it. Anyone who held a fractal rose could recreate its design, but only a few were true masters. Sarah was the tenth generation of master weaver in her family. She knew in her heart that Lari would would be the eleventh – the greatest fractal weaver the world had ever known.

Lari ran wide-eyed from flower to flower, admiring the glowing petals as they slowly opened to reveal their designs. “Choose carefully, Lari. Your first rose will become your trademark design. You’ll have many others through the years, but this is the one you will use the most. Make sure it pleases you.”

Lari scooted around the last of the roses and turned to the lotus pond. Sarah’s eyes widened when she saw a glow in the pond. She had never heard of a fractal lotus. Lari bent down and called out, “Oh, Mama, come look at this! It’s so beautiful!”

She reached out and touched the glowing lotus with gentle fingers. Gripping below the base, she snapped the flower cleanly off its stem. She ran to Sarah with it cupped in her hands. Sarah knelt to see it. The delicate petals formed a colorful mosaic of pinks, blues and purples. The center gleamed a soft gold. The inner bud leaves were still unfolding. Sarah looked at Lari’s rapt face. Her eyes reflected fractal designs in the golden light.

Dogs in house

Houdini, Maize

Time writing:

~45 minutes

October word count:



  1. Loved the beauty in this. I especially love the detail of the world being flat and unmoving after stepping off the loom.

    Also really love the little twist of finding the fractal lotus. Wooh!

  2. Prompt: Midnight in the fractal garden

    _Francois, meet me at midnight in the fractal garden, A._, the text had said. Francois ducked under a crystal frond and gripped the cheap space phone tightly. It had been in his bags, mysteriously, when he unpacked in his cabin after the passengers were released from their acceleration seats. After deconstructing and reconstructing it to make sure there were no listening devices or weapons inside, he put it on his nightstand, intending to ask a staff member to bring it to a lost and found.

    But the fascination of his first translight trip – and the free passes handed out for the concessions in the early days – had pushed the phone from his mind. Until it chimed this morning. His heart had jumped into his throat, more from the fact that he had forgotten than the surprise of the reminder. It should not have been so easy to throw off old habits.

    Time writing: 15 minutes

    1. Interesting! So much going on! Nice hard SF world building. Good opening mystery - is that a thriller or romance in the making? And what's Francois' backstory? Very mysterious! I'd read more!