by August O’Brien

There was once a man who noticed a thread in the corner of one of the books on his desk. He pulled at it and the cover came unwound. He kept pulling and the pages came unwound. He wanted to know where the thread would end, so he kept pulling and the carpet came unwound, the desk and the wallpaper.

The kids came back from school and they came unwound too. His wife came and started screaming:

“What have you done?”

But he kept pulling and her screams came unwound, and herself shortly after. The dog came unwound and the doghouse, and the garden and the house around him.

His arms were tired from all the pulling, but he kept at it because he wanted to know where it would end. Would everything come unwound? The trees and the bees, and the moon and the sun? So he pulled and his parents went, his friends, the school, the streets and everyone on them, the entire town, they all unwound before the thread ran out.

When the thread ran out there was nothing left except barren space and a mountain of twine. So he walked over to the next town, found a payphone, and called his out-of-town grandma.

“Grandma,” he said, “what do I do? I found a piece of thread and pulled it, and my whole life came unwound.”

“Boy,” she said, “you’d better learn knitting.”

So he bought a couple of knitting needles and a few knitting books and went back to his mountain of twine.

It took a long time and there were mistakes he had to unwind and knit again, but in the end everything came out right. Better than right. The wife was happier, the kids did better in school, the parents were healthier and the homeless now had houses of their own.

In fact, he did away with so many bad things that after all was knitted into place he still had enough twine for one extra person. Who could it be, he asked, and knitted himself. When he was done he sat on the couch with the idle needles in his hands. He also sat at the desk.

“How do you do?” he asked.

“How do you do?” he asked back.


He left his former life to his other self and went out into the world. There were many threads to pull and many things to knit right. He pulled at threads whenever he could find them. Most of them did nothing but occasionally, oh so rarely, the unwinding started. And then, nothing could stop him from pulling to the end and knitting things back as they should have been in the first place.

He unwound a playboy’s dozen girlfriends and knitted him a giant twenty foot one instead. He unwound a country and knitted it back into a map. He found the thread to a religion and pulled at it for years, following it around the world. When he was done, twine coiled the globe. That religion of men worshipping god, he knitted into one of gods worshipping man.

He unwound and knitted things big and small until one day, worn needles at his side, he realized he was no longer pulling at threads to knit the world a better place. The only hope that kept him pulling was the thought that one day, he would pull the thread that would unwind himself.


August O'Brien is the pen name of Dan Marian. He is a twenty-something writer currently living in Bucharest, Romania. The story above is the first of his work to be published, but hopefully not the last.