She was sitting on the stoop when the first crystal landed on the arm of her thin woolen coat, charcoal shot through with wan bits of baby blue and grass green, and a single strand of bright, forthright red that somehow, magically, made the the other earthen colors POP and fused all four hues together to make something beautiful, delicately wrought out of the cheap fabric and thread she used for herself. She made the heaviness become lighter as a whole with a simple stitch.
She was magic that way.
“Hello little one, ” she said, eyeing the thick snowflake. She didn’t know about Fractals (in truth, no one did back then). But she could see that there was a symmetry to it. A symmetry like the symmetry she used to see when she, laying on her back…after yet another argument with her mother that never really ended, just went dormant for a bit like a cancer…looked up through the green and brown cross-stitched grapevines to the sky. Or even more, when she’d stare out the window of her bedroom during the winter at the great old tree outside, shorn of all leaves and life, all craggly-scraggly but with branches that branched and continued to branch…THICK to THIN to thick to thin to thinner and thinner and thinner to delicate to threadbare……in a set pattern…a set pattern…and every spring, no matter how harsh the winter, the tips of each branch in the pattern would bud green, then bloom.
She used the symmetry she’d seen, remembered, and could still see now when she allowed herself to, and embroidered nature into clothes when her customers paid enough for the extra bits, the extraneous bits, the bits that didn’t need to be but were because they needed to peacock, show off, show the world that Yes, They Were Something.
They…They were Nothing. This, she knew on instinct, on experience, on her own Judgment. They came to her because she’d gotten a reputation as one…perhaps the only one…of The Women Who Sewed that could do justice to The Ladies Who Lunched. After all, only six-and-a-half blocks separated them. But those blocks in those days were lifetimes and life-cycles away.
She did what she did because it was all she could do.