“Do you ever think about free will?” the spinner asked her mother as she handed her the thread for measuring.
“What?” her mother said, carefully marking out a length on one thread and then passing it on.
“Free will,” the spinner said. “Do you ever think about it?”
“What a question,” her grandmother said, as she took up a thread and snipped it off. “We are there when each child is born. We weave the course of their lives. Together, we spin up their potential, measure out the span of it, and bring it to its inevitable conclusion. What should we worry about ‘free will’ for?”
“Oh, well, that’s just it,” the spinner said. “Do we have free will?”
“Look to your child,” the grandmother said to her own daughter. “She has wax in her ears.”
“Mind your grandmother, dear,” the measurer said.
“I did hear you, grandmother,” the spinner said. “You said we do all those things, and we do… and they go about the course of their lives exactly as we have spun and measured it, and it ends exactly as you cut it. But does that mean we are making the decisions that they enact, or do their decisions dictate our actions?”
“Silly child,” her mother said. “The puppeteer’s arms may move at the same time as the puppet’s, but that doesn’t mean the puppet is pulling the strings.”
“But does the puppet even know it’s being pulled? Or does it think it’s in control?”
“What a lot of nonsense,” the grandmother said. “We’re not puppets. I would know if someone were controlling me.”
“Oh?” the spinner said. “Do they know? Or are they just as certain as you are that they chart their own courses through life?”
“You know, I think it’s quiet time,” her mother said. “Let’s just enjoy the silence for a while.”
The three did work in silence, but it’s doubtful how much they enjoyed it.