Once upon a time there was a little boy named Frank who lived on a farm with his mother, father, brothers and sisters. Frank was five years old.
One morning after breakfast; when the men had gone to work the fields, and his older brothers and sisters were off to school; Frank found himself with no one to play with and nothing to do. His mother shooed him out of the kitchen saying; “Go on and play now baby, I have to clean up this mess and start on dinner.”
So, while his mother bustled about the kitchen, Frank wandered aimlessly through the house, looking in this room and that room untill he found himself in his mother’s bedroom. Over in one corner was her sewing machine, half covered with a mound of light blue cloth she was turning into a dress for her youngest daughters first dance. Franks eye wandered over the pieces of dress and the spools of thread laying about the table untill they fell on something he’d never seen before. It was a spool of thread, but different from the others; it was long and fat and shiny like a spiders webbing. He picked up the strange shaped spool and felt how smooth the thread was. It fascinated him.
Spool in hand Frank wandered back through the house and out onto the front porch, turning his new toy over and over untill he spotted the end of the thread tucked into the top of the spool. He pulled the end loose and smiled as a couple of feet of the silky smooth thread rolled off the wooden center. An idea formed slowly in his little brain as he stood on the porch that fine spring morning and he smiled as he thought of how happy his mama would be when she saw the wonderful thing he was going to make from her spool of thread that was just laying there on her sewing machine doing nothing.
Marching to the nearest post on the porch he wrapped the end of the thread twice around and tied a square knot just like his daddy had taught him. Stepping off he porch he hunted around in the dirt untill he found a twig small enough and straight enough to slip through the center of the spool. With the thread unrolling behind him Frank started walking around the house. ‘Round and ’round and ’round the house he went; holding the spool high as he passed each window and low as he rounded the porch. He started to sing; ” The itsy – bitsy spider” here he forgot the words, so he made up new ones; “went ’round and ’round the house”.
About the third or fourth time he sang his song, the last bit of thread ran off the spool and Frank stood back to admire his creation. His very own Spider Web! Skipping happily to the front porch he ran up the steps and into the house, dropping the spool by the front door, eager to show his mama the wonderful thing he had made.
Mama was standing at the stove in the warm kitchen, a pot holder in one hand and a large wooden spoon in the other, stirring a steaming pot on the stove. Frank walked up softly behind her and tugged once on her skirt.
” Come see what I made Mama”.
Turning to look down at her baby boy she smiled, made one last stir of the pot and put the lid on it. Bending down, she opened the door of the oven with the pot holder, reached in and tested the top of the cornbread with her finger tips. Satisfied she shut the door and turned to Frank with a smile.
“Is it spectacular?”
” It’s spectacular” he grin grew even bigger at the chance to use his new favorite word, and spinning around he raced out to the porch and turned around to better see the look of amazement and delight on her face when Mama saw the grand thing he had made.
Watching her face as she pushed the screen door open, he saw her put one foot on the porch and freeze. Her eyes ran from one end of the porch to the other ,taking in the dozens of strands of fine silk thread stretching from column to column and around the end of the house. She looked down at him with an expression he could not read, then her eyes went to the empty spool lying between them on the porch, and he saw her face fall. Without a word she turned and went back into the house, the screen door banging shut behind her.
Frank stood alone on the porch puzzling over what he had seen. His Mama was the center of his heart, and he didn’t know exactly what had happened, but he knew he had made her unhappy and that made him unhappy, so he sat down on the porch and began to cry.
When Frank finished crying he picked up the spool and studied it, wondering how he could make things right. He puzzled over the problem for a while, then broke into a smile as the answer came to him.
With spool in hand he ran back around to the corner of the house and searched up and down untill he found the end of the thread. Tying the thread to the spool with a square knot like his daddy had taught him, he began winding the thread back onto the spool.
‘Round and ’round and ’round the house he went winding the thread onto the spool; reaching high at the windows and low as he passed the porch. His hands grew tired and his fingers started to ache but he kept winding untill finally he came back to the column where the other end was tied. Laying the fat spool on the porch he worried at the knot untill he had it loose, then he wound the last bit onto the spool and looked at his trophy with satisfaction.
All of the thread was back on the spool. There were blades of grass, small twigs, some leaves, a few cockle – burrs, and bits of real spiders silk wound up in the thread, along with a cicada husk or two; but all of the thread was back on the spool. It was as big as a softball now.
Back into the house he went and straight to the kitchen. Mama was standing at the window by the long table looking out to the fields. The table was set and it was quiet and still in the room.
Frank padded softly over to his mama and tugged on her skirt. Turning away from the window she looked down at the center of her heart and said;
“What is it Frank?”
Holding up the swollen ball of thread Frank said;
” I fixed it Mama.”
Taking the ball in one hand and his shoulder in the other she lead him to the table. Pulling out the bench that ran down the side of the table she laid the thread on the tables top then lifted him up and sat him down beside it. With his feet in her lap and the misshapen ball in her hand she told him about the spool of thread; She explained that the spool had to fit on the sewing machine and unwind smoothly from the spindle to work right; that this was a special kind of thread that she needed to made beautiful patterns and decorations for his sisters dress; that it was a very special dress that meant so much because it was the first special dress she would have; that it took two weeks for her to get the thread and there wasn’t time to get another spool before the dance. She laid the ball of thread in his lap, took his face in her hands and kissed him on the nose and said;
” I’m glad you rolled it back up so no one will trip over it, but Frank,” raising his head untill she could look into his eyes, ” There are some things you cannot fix once you have broken them, that’s why it’s so very important not to break them”.
Pulling him from the table she held him in her lap and squeezed him tight for a moment then stood him on the floor and put the ball of thread in his hand. Frank looked up at her and she asked; ” Do you understand darling?” Looking down at the swollen spool with its leaves and twigs and bulges all around he slowly nodded his head and said ; “I’m sorry Mama”.
Looking at misshapen ball one last time she sighed; ” Well, I’ll just have to do something else”. Then turning him towards the door she swatted his bottom;
“Now run and wash up for dinner, and put that ball up before your sister sees it”.