The Spontaneous Knotting of an Agitated String

(by Lavie Tidhar)

“It’s technology,” Mrs. Pongboon says, importantly, employing the English word, which is one of the few she knows. The girl looks impressed – as well she should, Mrs Pongboon thinks. “Here,” sher says. “Try,” she says. She un loops a second locket from hem ample bosom – not the one with all her misery inside it, but the sampler, the holy sampler – she had once confused the two with a potential customer and the results were… less than beneficial, in fact there had been a complaint, and since then she is extra careful, though she cannot bear to put her own, personal locket away – “Try and see for yourself, my darling little girl”.

The locket is encoded with a Generic Spring Day, The Lovers, River Bank – it could be anywhere, it could be any two young people in any country in the world, Generic Sample Number Two, version oh three point five six, and when Mrs. Pongboon pops the lock she can adjust the setting.

Encode: Laothian-specific. Encode: Boy-Girl (she takes a hunch, you’d be surprised how often it doesn’t pay off) – “Here, give me your palm, little miss, little madam, close your fingers, close your eyes – can you feel it?” (but of course she can)…


There will always be knots. That is called - she had memorized it in English - it is called the spontaneous knotting of an agitated string. That is a scientific fact… Illustration: Megan Jorgensen