By Linda Crisalli
contributing writer 

'Wool' fan fiction

The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment

 

September 16, 2023

Years ago we used prompts in our writing group, a single word, an interesting sentence, a unique or even rather regular object, and our pens would fly as our imaginations created a story around the challenge. Fan fiction is like a gigantic prompt. The set up and characters are already developed and in place. The writer can just jump right in and put their own spin into the original story, adding a new angle or event.

When reading "Wool" by Hugh Howie, I couldn't help but wonder about all the other people who lived in the Silo. Who are they? What did they do? How did they feel? In both the book and the Apple TV series, we read and see them in passing. Midge Lyn'dee has graciously invited me to share my piece of fan fiction from "Wool." I hope it inspires others to try writing their own fan fiction around their favorite books. It is a handy writing tool and lots of fun.

"Threads"

Life continues in the Silo. Hundreds go about their daily business of work, play, love, arguments, worry, wonder. It is the wondering that imprisons some. Questioning why they are there, what is this life? Some die a slow death.

That takes us to the laundry where Greta works meticulously, washing and mending the clothes of workers and families in her area, the lower reaches of the Silo.

Some do manage to wash their own clothes. But just as in many societies, others would prefer to pay someone else to accomplish this necessary chore. Greta is grateful for each bundle. After her husband's death in a terrible work accident, it is now up to her to provide for herself and her two young children.

"Do you have a lot of orders today Greta? Can you manage one more?" Hannah pushed damp hair away from her flushed face as she lifted a wrapped bundle onto Greta's sorting table.

"I can give it a try. My kids have after school activities that will keep them busy for a while this afternoon." Greta swallowed her sigh and lifted aching arms to push the bundle to the end of the table near soaking pots full of orders. Mentally she divided the size of the bundle up in her mind, judging how many pieces there would be.

"Sorry, but they are pretty dirty, " Hannah admitted. "Mike had to crawl down some pipes this week. A clog in the system."

"Is that why our water was off yesterday?" Greta asked.

Hannah nodded in confirmation. "He is sick today. Had to take him to medical to be examined, so I am behind in the family washing." Hannah had three children, one still a baby perched now on her left hip.

"Is Mike okay?" Greta asked, concerned, seeing her friend extra worn and worried.

"It's his head you know. He gets in those tight spaces and something breaks inside. Something needing out." Hannah's voice shrunk to a whisper. "I fear he'll offer to wash the window." Her voice trembled the last words, combined with tears squeezing out the corners of her eyes. She had closed them tight against the horror those words brought to mind.

Greta gently led Hannah to a chair and started tea water on the stove. She took the baby and set her down on one of her handmade quilts. Her children's old toys brought a smile to the child's face.

***

Greta, laundry finished, children fed and put to bed, settled into her favorite chair to complete her chores for the day. Clothes worn and torn are mended, buttons replaced. Her fingers work fast and sure over the variety of materials and colored threads needed. And then she relaxes into the favorite part of her day.

She reaches first for a pair of Mike's work pants. She carefully pulls one pocket inside out, the left one, and chooses her thread carefully. Not in color, though she keeps color in mind. But by the quality and thickness of the thread, its coarseness or satiny smooth feel. A box of buttons, beads and tiny trinkets stand at the ready.

Closing her eyes she imagines Mike and his anxiety, then feels a calmness. And in that calmness comes a picture and her fingers start to fly. Mike had always loved this one certain book in school. She sees a baseball field surrounded by trees. The infield spreads to the outfield. Four bases feel like soft pillows. The pitcher's mound slightly elevated. A ball and bat sit by home plate, the ball a smooth round bead. Her fingers swiftly embroider the scene.

In the right pocket Greta sews a scoreboard. Words on it say Home Team and Visitors. There are many zeros beside them in two rows of boxes. But in the last square for the Home Team, she sews the number three. Home team wins. On one side of the scoreboard she sews a mass of smiley faces. Cheering faces. A sign of hope.

Greta sighs in satisfaction. This is a gift of love tonight. The most intricate picture she has made inside a pocket for a while. She takes no recognition in her art, by adding her name or initials. That would be dangerous. She must not be caught. Messages of this kind are strictly forbidden. Those in charge fear it might stir people into action and resulting rebellion, by referring to a time long dead. But Greta believes it seeds hope.

Having sent pocket messages for months now, carefully choosing her recipients and never giving to anyone she suspected of working for the system, she had managed to give people the stamina to go on. To lift the spirit and find happiness in a dreary world beyond her stitches...they get dressed one morning and sometime during the day, unconsciously put their hand in their pocket. Their fingers feel the threads, work their way around the outline. The fingers tell the mind what they "see."

She had started simple. A flower. A heart. And birds. Many birds because people here seemed to long for birds. In the early years, birds could be found in books and stories and were miracles that became fantasy to a community forbidden to see the sky. To see a bird fly in the air free? What a wonder! Yes, she had sewn many birds with her threads, flying free...

 
 

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