Nascha Far-Seer knelt beneath a weathered lean-to, the only shade for miles, and plied the weft of hand-spun sheep’s wool across the tall lines of a rug she been working on for many days. Her grandson Atsidi, fidgeted with a play-version loom at her side.
On either end of the lean-to, painted in rust-red, the word RUGS incited few travelers to stop. This stretch of SR-14 had been Nascha’s domain ever since her own mother gifted it to her back before the oil companies had forced her to move her store thirty feet further from the road so that it would miss the blasts of wind thrown from the massive trucks.
The trucks had since vanished. The oil had been pumped from the land and the interstate now diverted travelers to the north. This had never deterred Nascha for she saw her trade as not one of economy but of spirit.
Atsidi, head-strong and impatient, threw down his toy-sized shuttle and pushed at the easel-like loom which toppled to the pale sand.
His grandmother pressed the pedal that toggled the the warp threads and set her own shuttle in the tent between the deep blue traces of yarn. She turned to the boy. He sat in a huff, his arms crossed, his head tilted as if waiting for her reaction.
“Is the earth round and smooth, my yazhi?”
Atsidi scrunched his round nose, his straight black hair cut like a dome to fall to his eyebrows. “The ground is full of rocks and cracks, and it’s all bumpy.”
“The river, does it flow like an arrow, straight to the sea?”
“Nilini goes this way and that way,” the boy pointed his finger around the compass, “mixed up like ol’ LocoDine’. He walks to the store with yellow lights and then goes down to the gully where all the rusty cars sit in a pile. He never…”
Nascha put her dark-brown finger to his lips. “Nothing is without bumps or turns in its path, or scratches or wrinkles.” She removed her precious glasses and gently cleaned the desert dust from their lenses. “But everything has a purpose, even if they themselves are not perfect.”
She motioned for the boy to stand the miniature loom. She spied the crossed-up threads. Within its failed pattern she detected what it might become if continued. With a groan she stood, moved behind and knelt around him. Her motion stirred a scorpion, a small white one, the nastiest type, to skitter up near the boy’s exposed calf.
Atsidi mewed at the sight. This kind could kill him.
Nascha reached, plucked her shuttle from her own loom and drove the point of the polished wooden tool down into the back of the vermin that threatened her grandson. The creature’s shell made a satisfying crunch.
With its eight legs squirming and its stinger—a bead of venom poised at the tip—seeking a victim, it tried in vain to penetrate the wood. Nascha flicked it behind them out into the broiling sun.
She wiped and returned her shuttle to the gap between warps on her rug.
The boy took a deep breath, pulled forth his own tiny shuttle and with his grandmother’s help, turned his mixed up threads into what looked like the eye of a lizard. An old lizard. One that liked the taste of scorpions.