The Moirai, at a House Party
Sabrina met them at a bad party on a Friday night.
Maybe calling it a bad party was a little mean, but Sabrina wasn’t exactly in the headspace to be generous. It was loud, and dark, and the bitch in the bathroom had been in there for going on six minutes, which was egregious at this kind of house party. This kind meaning a slightly too small, much too dark Brooklyn apartment with one damn toilet.
It wasn’t like she needed the bathroom, per se, but she did need a moment alone. With the door closed and the music slightly muffled and to stare into her own vaguely bloodshot eyes in the fluorescence, glitter smeared round her eyes and down her face in an attempt to mimic tears.
She was twenty six. What the fuck was she doing wearing glitter? What was she doing at a bad house party?
“Excuse us, are you--”
When she turned around, three girls were standing there, smiling politely. Each holding red solo cups full of some mysterious punch.
“Ah, yes, sorry,” Sabrina said. Why was she apologizing?
“No worries,” the first girl said. She had big, wide-spaced eyes, tilted at the ends. Long braids.
The three of them kept looking at Sabrina though, sort of expectantly, staring with identical polite smiles. “How do you know Anne?” she said, tried to smile back at them in a friendly, bland sort of way. It felt like she was baring her teeth, mouth too wide.
“Oh, we don’t,” the middle girl said. She was the shortest and the palest, with a messy black bob and a 90’s choker.
“We know--” and the rest of the last girl’s words sort of faded into the noise of the party for a moment, enough that Sabrina caught the edge of a vowel and maybe a -n at the end. “Anne’s roommate.” The last girl was a little older, maybe in her thirties, reddish hair and chipped nail polish.
“Oh!” Sabrina said. Bathroom was still not open, what were they doing in there? “Did you come in with that big group earlier?”
That big group being the weird big group. A bunch of older guys, who looked more like they should have children and be talking about, she didn’t know, grilling and the stock market had filed in, cracking open the door to let in the too-bright hallway light, a strange irreality slicing into the dark, neon lit space for a brief moment.
“Oh yes,” first girl said. “We all work at the Greek Consulate.”
Sabrina’s eyebrows went up. “That’s pretty neat, what do you--”
“And we’re all vegan,” the third said brightly.
“Right,” Sabrina said after a moment. “So, what does a consulate do, exactly? Passport stuff?”
“Passport stuff,” Two nodded sagely.
“Visas,” One said.
“Admin,” Three said.
“What about you?” One said politely. “What do you do?”
“Oh, I’m a project manager,” Sabrina said. “For a tech startup.”
“That’s so neat!” Two said, apparently with all genuineness. “You don’t like it, though.”
“Oh, well it’s--” and then Two’s words filtered through her brain, and Sabrina stared at the girl with the blunt bob. “I’m sorry?”
“You think you’re wasting your life,” One said, nodded, smiled. Her eyes were a little unblinking, and caught the neon light in strange ways, like they were made of glass.
“You’ve got time, though,” Three said. “You’re not barely over a quarter.”
“I’m sorry,” Sabrina said, for the third time. “A quarter-- my job is fine, it pays well, maybe I don’t--”
“In the line,” Two said. “Do you want to see?”
The door of the bathroom finally opened, spilled a sharp white beam of blue-white LED light into the room. Sabrina blocked most of it, and just an ethereal sort of halo shadowed the three girls in front of her. Then the girl behind her clicked the light off, said a quick, “sorry, ‘scuse me,” and pushed past Sabrina and the three girls from the Greek Consulate.
“What line?” Sabrina said, and all three girls smiled at her.
A moment later, there were one-two-three hands on her elbows.
Another moment, and the door shut.
It was too quiet, in the bathroom, with the light off, and Sabrina’s eyes struggled to adjust without the bouncing neon. The music from outside was muffled to the point of not being there, but the door cheap plywood, so why--
Her breath sounded too loud, too aggressive, and she caught, for the first time, that she couldn’t hear the other three girls.
Not at all. It was like she was the only one in the bathroom.
“Do you want to see?” a voice from behind her said, and Sabrina startled so badly she knocked something off the counter. An abandoned solo cup, the sharp, too-sweet scent of flavored vodka rising from the floor, vapor-like.
“See what?” Sabrina said. Swallowed.
When she looked up, into the mirror, she didn’t recognize her reflection, her face too warped by-- by something alien, this small dark space with something fey thick around her ankles, her wrists.
Instinctual and animal, in a poorly tiled bathroom in a cash grab building.
“This,” One said, and drew something out of her sleeve.
She shouldn’t have been able to. She was wearing a black mesh crop top, the sleeves coming all the way up to the joint of her thumb. Sabrina could see the smooth brown skin of her arms through the net.
But something was coming out anyway, a shining gold thread, lighting up the bathroom in such a way that it made the dark and the shadows seem all the deeper, more disturbing, like they were somewhere other than a shitty two bedroom in Bedstuy.
The line stretched between One’s hands; cat’s cradle. Hurt Sabrina’s head more than her eyes.
It was brighter at one end than the other, clearer liquid gold, faded bronze toward the other.
“See,” Three said, “you’re only here.”
She pointed with one red tipped nail about a quarter of the way down the line, right where the bronze bled gold.
“Would you like to know what happens next?” Two said politely.
“It’s not technically against the rules, but--”
“Of course,” Three said, soft, silky. “If we tell you what’s next--”
“Then you cannot change it,” One said.
“Knowing fate is to self-fulfill,” Two said.
“You can’t help it, mortals almost never can, but--”
“What’s worse-- to know that your life can be different,” Three said thoughtfully.
“If you give up everything that it is now--”
“Or to keep going on the path that you’re currently on--”
“Knowing that your life could’ve been different, if you hadn’t been scared.”
“So choose.” One said, her wide eyes very bright, in the dark.
“No,” Sabrina said, shaking her head, one hand feeling for the doorknob, choking on the realization that it wasn’t there-- “I won’t--”
“You will,” Two said gently, tilted her head. “You don’t really have a choice.”
Fear in her throat, real now, staring at her own reflection as it twisted and became monstrous, her own eyes reflecting glass, whites round like a spooked horse, her breath too loud in her ears, the heavy thrumming of her heart--
It was, she noticed at last, only her in the mirror now.
One of them put a hand on her shoulder, and Sabrina startled, glanced down at it reflexively. Let out a low half-moan at the crone-like hand on her shoulder, nails like claw, matte black, pressing points into her skin.
“Do you want us to change it?” One said.
“We can,” said Three.
“Just a twist,” said Two.
“Fate is never set, but will is conditional,” One said.
“And your line is spun and set at birth.” Two said.
“Just ask.” said Three.
Quiet, and Sabrina staring at her own face, still a stranger, something wild and too-knowing in her eyes now.
What is worse than misplaced faith? Knowledge you can’t handle.
“I wish I had never met you,” her voice is cracked.
“Too late,” gleeful--
“Even we can’t change the past.”
Sabrina stumbles out of the bathroom a moment later, out of the darkness into thumping red neon light, eyes unseeing and something hollow taking up residence behind her ribs, where her heart should be.
“Where’s Sabrina going?” Anne said from behind her, something she shouldn’t be able to hear, sounds coming into her ears strangely, like someone was speaking directly into her head.
“Oh, she’s going home,” Two said. “She’s got a lot to do in the morning.”
“Ah, but I made cupcakes!” Sabrina heard Anne say, pouting and drunk, as she shoved her way through the crowd, desperate to reach the front door, blind with tears and too much knowledge. “Do you want one?”
“Oh no,” One said, gleefully, as Sabrina threw open the door, into the yellow light, into the hallway, into reality, into something other than the dark and the light and knowing what came ahead, “Sorry, we’re vegan.”
Isabel Yacura is a writer and editor in Brooklyn, New York. She has been published in All World's Wayfarer, Zoetic Press, and Kelp Journal. She's currently represented by Haley Casey at CMA Literary, and can be found @isabelyacura on Twitter.