Sunday Snippet: Macbeth’s Spinners by Justine Johnston Hemmestad

Posted January 8, 2023 by Jen in Sunday Snippet Tags:

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Macbeth’s Spinners

Author: Justine Johnston Hemmestad
Publisher: Antimony and Elder Lace Press
Release Date: September 27, 2022


Chapter Twelve

Book cover of Macbeth's Spinners by Justine Johnston HemmestadShe listened to the echo of dripping water deep in her lair, as though newly developed thoughts were being composed through her fears and weaknesses, for she was without her sisters to talk over their fate. Only a single blazing torch illuminated her lair, since her surroundings mirrored the dimness of her heart and her heart had lit the torch; shadows crept into the crevices of cave walls high above, like hidden fate lingered into the future. Clotho took a deep breath, slowly stepped over the bridge, and sat down on the marble steps of Apollo’s palace where she sobbed. The guardian dragon, its wings scarred and majestic, was nowhere beyond the waterfalls, for she would have felt its thunder through the earth and its hot breath on her skin. Her thoughts, undisturbed and centered on her sisters, all but loosened Macbeth from her vigilant course of action. She needed her sisters to help her rekindle his devotion and his judgment, for without them he wanted to twist his way free of her will, even her fate.

Her tears ran betwixt the fingers of her hands as they were pressed against her face. Not only did she feel displacement, but she felt lost to the ages. She had not even time to cling to – not past, nor present, nor future. The heavens themselves had gone on without her; the spiral vortex spat her out amid an enduring shimmer. She did not know what to do alone nor where to turn, for her wish was not to cast her sisters from her forever. They had always been with her, from the beginning of time, they had always comforted her and nurtured her even when the past was rocky and the future was fiery. The thought ran through her mind that they may be back in Greece, inhabiting their own bodies. Then, she could be glad they were at peace, while Apollo remained to stalk her in Scotland. She knew they cast their fates to return to Greece; they had grown weary of Scotland and she would not be pulled away from Macbeth. Questioning herself came as second nature in these moments; even the luscious scent of pink peonies did nothing to ease the turmoil brewing within her heart.

“Love is full of nature,” she remembered herself saying as he held her on a bed of peonies with her sisters languishing alongside him, for she had glanced into the depths of her own soul without intending to. She could feel her mind trying to digest the knowledge of him so near to her. “All we want is to be heard by you,” she had whispered. “We want you to read the book of fate that we write, read it and believe it.” Clotho had cradled his cheek in the palm of her hand, stroking his silken soft skin with the side of her thumb, and gazed into his blue eyes.

“Because I love you, my Fates,” he had said as a brisk breeze swept by, “I give you power over myself. Because you love me, I relinquish the power of the gods to you. As it has been since the beginning of time, I will love you until time ends. You are my foundation.” Her memory bled into her surroundings, as she had then seeped into the ground beneath his feet. She closed her eyes and breathed in deeply, for she felt overwhelmed by nature, as much as Apollo was overcome by love; she was abruptly stunned by a bird’s echoed squawk within the cave.

She longed to drown in Apollo’s favorite flower’s scent, until the longing was so poignant that it became a spell – her will came crashing down as a flood within her lair; her hair blew back with the powerful wind that the deluge stirred. In a flash, she saw her reflection rush toward her within the water as though it had life and anger, for her reflection was not of the one flesh she inhabited, but of three ancient women…herself and her sisters, their clothes but rags and their hair disheveled and white. But they transgressed almost instantly into the fluid that surrounded her. No longer was she in her natural lair as she remembered it, for the spell had pulled a limitless, dark ocean into the lair with her. Despite the water’s force, she was never knocked off the palace steps; nor did her almost instant submersion prevent her from breathing. Bubbles streamed through the water, and she sensed its pressure like a weight against her limbs.

She looked into the sea cavern that she stood in with a piercing gaze, the iridescent fish that swam by, the coral that clearly appeared on the palace steps, the skatefish that flew as gracefully as birds through the sea. Jelly fish flowed through the expanse, their long opaque tentacles drifting through the waters beneath clear blob-like bodies. Schools of small orange fish swam past her before she could take another step down. The courtyard of Athens appeared as brilliant as it had when Plato and Socrates walked the streets a millennia ago, as crowds of dignitaries and thinkers gathered together on the steps in deep conversation. She was the only one who stood on the steps this mock day, shadowed intermittently by the large fish that swam over her head. Strands of her hair floated beside her face, but something more…a rope, which seemed to possess the continuation of life, arose like a snake in the water in front of her.

She stood up slowly from the steps on the ocean floor and tread toward the living rope, watching it as though it were the string of her own fate, intertwining with the elements of the world as though one were dependent on the other. She looked back to Apollo’s palace and the stairs upon which she had sat, and was taken aback by the glistening marble, the absolute purity of whiteness that glowed into the depths of water. She could not exist if not for her history, nor could history exist without her, for the melody of both played in the chorus of her ancestors. Nature embraced her by the pressure of the water with every step she took, as though her sisters had arisen from beyond to support her. Her heart swelled with love, countering the depth of her life without them. The living rope seemed to offer itself to her, for it did not move away as she came off the steps and it did not threaten. It bent with her, as though it were a lamp to light her way forth. She peered more intently ahead, deeper into the ocean…and as her eyes became accustomed to the dimness, she distinguished a series of old ships, resting in residual palace glow.

She was stunned by their greatness and magnitude, even the enormous masts that were snapped in two or fallen completely. Great holes punctured the hulls of several of them as though to tell the story of how they had sunk; enormous fish swam through the gaps.

About the Book:

Macbeth’s Spinners is a love story. And like most love stories, things surrounding the lovers can both influence and be influenced by the lovers and their emotions. You know the fallout that can happen among friends when a couple has a spat in the real world.

Now imagine if they were gods? Imagine if the lovers had the ability to influence time and fold the land and sea, and steer the course of a nation’s history?

What if Macbeth was guided to become king not by three elderly witches — but by the Three Fates of Greek Mythos that were transformed into a single woman of remarkable power?

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About the Author:

author photo of Justine Johnston HemmestadJustine Johnston Hemmestad is an editor, the author of three novels, and is included in several anthologies, including Chicken Soup for the Soul: Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injuries (after having been in a car accident that left her severely brain injured at 19). She is a graduate of The University of Iowa and has also graduated from the English Literature Master’s Degree program with distinction at Northern Arizona University.

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