The first slide of her hand was effortless, easy, done before she had thought through just how to begin. It was a reflex after her grandmother sat Angela down on the little stool in front of the giant wooden machine, the muscle memory of many days coming home after school and being put right to work. And once that first slide was made, she couldn’t just stop. She followed through the remaining motions until it was back to a state of rest, and she could step away without damaging all the other work her grandmother had done earlier. Then she jumped up off the stool like it had burned her.
“See, a natural,” her grandmother crowed, wrapping an arm around Angela and preventing her escape, talking to no one. “She hasn’t touched the loom in years. She swears she’ll make more of her life than fabrics. But—she gets right to it, like a duck to water.”
Angela groaned, shrugging the arm off her shoulder, and taking two hurried steps away from the loom and her grandmother. “This isn’t what I want, Nini,” she whined, “I don’t want to be a natural.”
“It’s in our blood, Ang. It’s in your blood. It’s the way the world works.” Nini beckoned with her hand, trying to ease Angela back to the loom. “I don’t understand you, Angela. Most people would kill to have something come to them so naturally, be talented in something practical that will also be able to set them up financially for the rest of their life’s. People who only dream they could sit down and make what you just started to make.”
“I don’t want to die hunched in front of a loom!” The words were out of Angela’s mouth before she could stop them. That didn’t prevent her from clasping both hands over her mouth after they were out, though.
Nini stiffened—her face now expressionless. She was no longer reaching out for Angela, her arms now straight at her sides. “We weren’t talking about your mother, now were we?” Nini answered in a quiet, emotionless voice.
“Nini, I am so sorry,” Angela took a step forward as if to embrace her grandmother, but was stopped short by one dark glare.
“You don’t want to be here,” Nini cut quietly, “Then get out.” Angela felt rooted to the spot, unsure of what the best course of action would be. The silence dragged on for a while before Nini broke it with a scream. “Get out!” Angela gave a little jump at her grandmother’s outburst, but Nini wasn’t done. “Leave! You can’t be bothered with your true talent, then I can’t be bothered with you. Go!”
Angela all but fled from the room. When she’d put some distance between her and the loom, she stopped to rest against the wall and try to catch her breath and process what had just happened. She’d gotten what she wanted, freedom from her Nini’s loom…but it felt like a loss all the same.