I'm trying to identify what is either a mythological story (likely from the Greco-Roman tradition, but not necessarily; could be an Aesop thing, or similar), or a short story. The plot is as follows, to the best of my memory:

A young man/woman comes across an old woman (a witch, maybe) with a box. The box has a string in it, coming out of a single small hole in the box. The string may be red. She offers the young man/woman a chance to pull the string from the box, which will make him/her older. The only stipulation is that the string may not be returned to the box, and that consequently any increase in age cannot be reversed. The man/woman greedily pulls the string from the box, only to pull too much, and reaches the end of their life.

Any ideas as to where this came from?

  • 1
    I am guessing this is also the primary inspiration for that Adam Sandler movie 'Click' – Mike Clark Apr 2 '13 at 21:23

How about The Magic Thread ? Appears to be a French tale/fable from an anonymous author. Tells the story of Peter who could never live in the moment. He liked to wander in the forest. One day he meets a very old woman. She offers him a a silver ball from which dangles a golden thread. Turns out the 'thread' is his life thread. He's told that he can make time pass more quickly by pulling out the thread but once the thread has been pulled it can't be put back. Rest of the tale is how Peter deals with the temptation and the frequency with which he pulls the string. At the end of the tale, he meets the woman again and is given a chance to relive his life without the magic ball.

Here's a Slightly different text version titled 'Peter and the Magic Thread'

The fable also served as the basis for Dream Threads, a ballet by Augusta Read Thomas.

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