This is the second piece I have written in response to Eva Deverell’s flash fiction writing prompts. The prompt was: “he twisted his fate between his fingers.”
Eric Jeffries was not aware that he had muddled up the space-time continuum with his lawnmower accident. Most people who did accidentally interfere with the laws of the universe were blissfully unaware, apart from David Potter in February 1973 who realised what he had done and then promptly lost his mind, never to regain it.
Eric Jeffries still had his faculties intact.
He was, however, quite confused. He remembered happily cutting the grass with his old faithful electric lawnmower before it cut out and he noticed that he had somehow severed the cable. He had sworn under his breath and bent down to pick up the aforementioned cable. He did not know why he had done this.
In hindsight, he thought, it was a bit stupid. On this occasion, Eric was indeed correct, for when he had made contact with the cable he had juddered and shaken in a mouth-foaming frenzy before finally waking up much later in the evening.
At least, that is what Eric thought. He had looked around and, seeing that it was dark, assumed that much time had passed since his last memory. He could not be further from the truth.
He sat up, on the grass and looked down the garden to the ash tree. It looked a lot bigger than he remembered. He thought he must be confused.
Underneath the tree, there was an old woman.
“What in the bloody hell is that woman doing in my garden?”
He stood up and marched to where she was sitting, weaving a tapestry.
“Excuse me? I think you are probably lost,” he said.
The woman looked up at him. “Neinn,” she said.
“Oh god, a bloody foreigner. OKAAAAAY. YOU. NO. LIVE. HERE… MY GARDEN.” He pointed at his chest and leaned forwards towards the woman.
“Neinn,” she said again.
Eric sighed and folded his arms.
“NOOOO. YOU. LOST. OK?”
The woman looked up at him again, pausing her needlework for a moment. “Ykkar tún?” She motioned with her hands to indicate what surrounded them. “Neinn. Ekki.”
The woman spoke again, this time in English.
“You are wrong. Look.”
She raised her right hand and a ball of light emanated from her palm. She threw the ball into the air behind Eric’s head and it lit up the world around him. For the first time he realised that he was not in his garden. He was not in any garden at all.
The ball of light spread far into the sky and he saw that he stood at the foot of the great ash tree, Yggdrasil. All Eric saw, however, was a gigantic tree with branches that stretched off into the dark, starry sky, decorated with large, bright baubles on the end. He likened it to a strange Christmas tree but he was mistaken. This was nothing like a Christmas tree at all, for each of the bright shiny baubles was a world within itself.
He turned towards the woman. “Who are you? Where am I?”
She continued to weave her thread and did not look up.
Eric lunged forwards and snatched the woman’s tapestry. “Aha! Now, WHO are you and WHERE am I?” He felt very clever, suddenly.
The woman placed her hands on her lap and looked at him.
“WHO ARE YOU?!”
“I am Skuld.”
Eric didn’t find the answer particularly helpful. He twisted the thread of the tapestry nervously between his fingers.
“But, where AM I, damn it?!”
Skuld watched his hands carefully and waited.
Eric grew more impatient and tugged at the thread of Skuld’s tapestry. He had no idea of the seriousness of his actions. He looked Skuld in the eye, grinned smugly and broke the thread with a triumphant “Ha!”.
In an instant Eric imploded, his very being reduced to the size of a pea — a very brightly lit pea. He glistened on the ground for a moment before the light flickered and finally went dark.
Skuld stood up, picked up the small dark ball and folded it inside the tapestry. Her two sisters joined her from behind the great trunk of the tree. All three of the Norns used their hands to dig a hole in the ground where they buried Eric’s fate along with his essence.
Then they looked up at the lowest branch of the tree and watched its newest leaf sprout and grow.
This story has also been published over on Medium.