Exercise #23: The Meeting

Statue of Themis. Editing by Lucas, original p...

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Exercise 23 Instructions

“When is he going to be here?,” Themis snapped, shifting her grip on the sword at her right hand as she spoke.

Lachesis held the gemstone Eye the sisters shared up to her forehead. “He’s on his way,” she said, laying the gem on the edge of her loom so that she could return to her work, “He got held up at a university debate. Of the lot of us, I’d say he’s the busiest, and likely the most under-appreciated.” She caressed her distended belly as she spoke.

“He should be spending more of his energy with me, like he used to,” complained Themis, absently adjusting her blindfold. “I hardly associate with him any more except in passing.”

“We’d all like to see more of him,” said Chronos with a smile. “After all, he’s most likely the best of us. Still, you can’t blame him for at least trying to do his job. There’s so much lying and cheating in the world, now. That’s the kind of thing that has always provoked him.”

“He used to be so much happier,” Atropos remarked, twisting more thread onto the spindle dancing merrily between her feet. “But then the world was a younger and more innocent place.”

Clotho listened as she worked. Thanatos was seated nearby quietly sharpening her shears as he cradled his scythe in the crook of his arm like a beloved child. Clotho unrolled another length of Lachesis’ tapestry and searched the length for an obvious border. Finding one about nine feet along the length of the fabric, she pulled her second set of shears from a pocket and quickly cut the piece free, carefully setting the roll with the others against the edge of the table.

“That’s all fine and good,” Themis said, never one for fooling around, “but what I want to know is when he’ll be here.”

Lachesis sighed and passed the crystalline Eye to Clotho, who held it briefly to her forehead then put it down on her table.

“Well?” Themis asked impatiently.

“Give him another hour or so,” said the girl, carefully fitting dowels to either end of the cut cloth and rolling the results up for later hanging.

“Patience,” added Thanatos gloomily.

“That’s all very well for you,” Themis complained, fingering the golden balance set on the table next to her, “I have work to do.”

“We all have work to do,” Chronos replied with a frown at Themis. “Remember, though, that we decided that it was time to meet him as a group rather than constantly running into him in the course of our duties among the mortals.”

Themis sank back in her chair, her fingers restless on the hilt of her sword.

“I’ve heard of this person, I think,” said Clotho looking up from her work, “But I’ve never met him. What’s he like?”

“Most of us have met him at some point in our lives,” Atropos replied, deftly winding the rest of her wool around her twirling spindle and catching it out of the air. “Perhaps we could all tell what we know of him? Don’t we have a duty to educate the young?”

The other five all exchanged looks. Then Chronos spoke. “You’re right, of course, Atropos. Let’s take turns. Who would like to go first?”

Surprisingly, Thanatos’ hand was the first in the air.

“Very well,” said Chronos.

“Met him at a car accident on the highway,” Thanatos said, placing the now razor-sharp shears on Clotho’s table. “Three killed. Other driver was drunk. Admitted it to the police. He was there, smiling.”

“That is the kind of thing he’d like,” Chronos replied with a smile. “Anyone else?”

Themis stood, picking up her balance. “As I said,” she began, “He and I used to be associated constantly. I’ve never known the man to tell a lie and he always encouraged others to do the same, whether it hurt them or not. However, he also had a policy of keeping his mouth shut if the truth were likely to hurt someone else. That’s something that I’ve always admired about the man.”

“Good point,” Chronos nodded.

“I could tell a story or two that he told me about some of the people he loved,” Atropos said wistfully. “He told me that he once knew a man that contracted for a load of alfalfa. However, after it had been mowed, the farmer growing it had to turn it twice because it had rained a couple of times before it was dry and could be baled. Naturally, the farmer decided that, since many of the leaves on the alfalfa plants had fallen off, that the crop wasn’t worth as much as he’d originally contracted to be paid for it, so he offered it to the man for a fraction of the original price. The man, however, objected, insisting that he had contracted for the original price and he was only going to pay that. I’m given to understand that the two men argued back and forth about this for hours.”

“Did they decide anything?” Clotho asked, eyes wide with interest.

“I don’t know,” Atropos smiled. “He never told me. He just seemed pleased that they’d argued that way.”

“That’s like him,” Themis added with a smile of her own. “Nowadays, the same two men would be in court arguing the opposite opinions.”

“The other story is similar to that,” Atropos continued, sliding the twist of wool from the spindle and beginning to roll it into a ball. “Apparently, there was a young girl who was out playing baseball with some neighbor boys when she managed to hit a ball that went right through the neighbor’s window. The girl ran right home and told her father. Her father didn’t say a word to her. Instead, he got his tools and a pane of new glass and went to the neighbor’s house to fix the broken window, since the girl was obviously too young to fix it herself. The boys’ mother insisted that he didn’t have to fix it, but his simple response was just, ‘Yes, I do.’”

As Atropos finished speaking, there was a knock at the door. Clotho put her shears down and went to answer it. Standing outside was an elderly man dressed in a white suit and tie. His expression was careworn and discouraged. His short hair was graying, but it looked as if it had been some shade of blond at some point. In his right hand, he bore a large, white lantern with a fat, white candle burning inside it. Strapped to his left arm was a triangular shield of burnished steel with a gold border.

He smiled, a smile his face seemed to have been made for, and Clotho suddenly had the impression that, in his younger days, the man before her had been quite handsome.

“Is this the Hall of Fate?” he asked politely.

“It is,” Clotho smiled back, pulling the door open wider. “Come in! You’re expected. Let me get you a chair.”

“Thank you,” the man replied, quietly stepping inside.

If you read the instructions, you’ll know that this was an exercise in character development. I was supposed to choose a concept, such as Death or Justice, and personify it in a story without naming the concept I was describing. Can you guess which concept I chose to personify?  Highlight at the end of this text to find out if you’re right: Honesty

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