“I like spiders,” Summer said. Dan looked up from his laptop and raised an eyebrow.
“Do you now?”
“Yes,” she said shortly. “I love them, really.”
Dan closed his laptop and stood up, joining Summer on the way to the cafeteria. They sat down on opposite sides of their usual table. “You love spiders,” he said, still with his stupid eyebrow raised.
“You don’t have to believe me.”
“Well good,” he said while digging into his bag for his lunch. “Because I don’t.”
Summer frowned. “Why not?”
Dan just gave her a look.
“Fine,” she said. She slumped in her chair exaggeratively. “Fuck, I’m so scared of them.”
“I wish I wasn’t though.” She took a bite from her sandwich. “They’re useful to catch flies, they bring a good aesthetic into the home… I keep hoping a spider would just come along to eat all those fucking mosquitoes.”
“You do know mosquito nets exist for a reason, don’t you?”
“Of course I do, I have a nice purple one. But that doesn’t help me when I’m playing games at my desk does it?”
Dan held up his hands in a placating manner. “Fine, fine you have a point. But don’t you have spiders inside your house sometimes? You could just, I don’t know, leave them.”
“In theory, but when one actually crawls over the wall or ceiling, I flip out. I don’t scream or anything, but I- It’s so difficult to describe. Something comes over me. I get jittery, my mind races and I can only focus on the spider. The way it moves, those eight legs slowly moving, so regularly yet alien-like.” She shuddered. “It’s worse when they have those thin long legs that you can barely see. Those creepy shadows. You can’t even tell which is the shadow and which is the spider. Oh, I hate them.” She lamented the last part to the ceiling.
When she pulled herself upright and looked at Dan, he had an odd glint in his eye. An evil grin spread on his face. “I thought you liked spiders?”
“I do like spiders,” Summer muttered to herself as she opened her laptop. Dan could suck it, fearing something didn’t mean you couldn’t still like it.
She navigated to her watch-later playlist. Yesterday she added another documentary she was just dying to watch. She grabbed her hot mug of coffee and took a sip as the documentary started.
A tiny jumping spider looked into the camera. Its eyes were huge in proportion to its body. The camera perfectly captured a little glint of light hitting them. “Adorable,” Summer breathed.
The documentary moved from the jumpy spiders with their big eyes to tarantulas with their fluffy hair. Gorgeous creatures. Summer’s breath caught when they showed footage of a thin long-legged spider weaving a web in the corner of a shed. Its movements so graceful, never once getting its long legs tangled, always knowing exactly which string to cross to make a sturdy web.
Summer winced as she remembered the last time she found one of those in her house. She’d been trying to work on her fear for a while by watching youtube videos and documentaries about spiders. She thought she was doing well, but the moment she was faced with one in real life those jitters got the best of her. She’d sprinted out of the room, grabbed her vacuum, and only became aware of what she was doing again when the spider was sucked from the wall.
She’d felt so bad, but there was no hope for it anymore. It was probably dead already.
She watched the spider on the screen tirelessly weaving its web, and imagined that same spider suffocating in the dust-filled bag of her vacuum. She shook her head. Next time, she promised herself, she wouldn’t kill it.
Next time came that very night, when she saw something move in the darkness. Right above her, in the crease between the wall and the ceiling, sat a tiny, almost invisible spider.
It was one of the thin ones with long legs, no bigger than two centimetres. None the less, the jitters started. She jumped from her bed and ran to the other side of the room. The spider didn’t move.
She stared at it, waiting for it to do anything, but it just sat there. Slowly, the jitters calmed down. She could breathe again and her rational mind came back.
She dropped the heavy wand of her vacuum. When had she even picked that up? The spider was so tiny, so delicate. She was surprised it hadn’t blown away in the draft of her open window. The mere idea of sucking up such a harmless creature was more horrifying than leaving it there on the ceiling.
But the thought of getting back into bed with the spider just above her… No, that wasn’t going to happen.
She looked around her room. She still had an empty glass on her bedside table. She grabbed it and a piece of paper and approached the spider.
The closer she got, the more she could feel the jitters again, but she forcefully pushed them down. She knew what to expect. She’d seen the documentary and knew how they moved. As long as she kept those movements in mind, she wouldn’t be surprised.
She stood on her bed and reached up with the glass. With a light thunk, it landed against the ceiling, trapping the spider inside. Summer took a shuddering breath.
Gently, she pushed the piece of paper under the glass. She was careful not to hurt the spider, but she didn’t have to be. It quickly got the idea and moved farther inside. The movement was almost enough to send her screaming, but she held firm. She shuddered as those undulating legs came close to her hand, only the transparent glass as a barrier.
At last, the paper covered the whole opening and she could step off her bed. She placed the glass, spider and all, on her desk and breathed a sigh of relief.
She looked at it for a moment, feeling completely safe now it was trapped. A light beep came from her watch. It was past midnight, in winter. She didn’t want to go outside now, the spider could wait here until morning.
With an agitated movement, Summer swiped her phone alarm away. She blinked up at the ceiling, letting the last flashes of her dream drift away. Something about a spider setting fire to a house? Weird.
She held a proud feeling in her chest as she remembered last nights accomplishment. She left her bed and took a look at the glass still resting on her desk. She didn’t kill it. And look at it now, it even built a little web. She hoped that wouldn’t be a problem.
Ten minutes of trying to get the spider out of the glass later, Summer accepted it didn’t want to go outside.
She put it on the kitchen table and sat down in front of it. She looked at the thin delicate creature in its tiny little web. It would die if she forced it outside, but she didn’t want it anywhere near her bed…
Her gaze fell on the corner of the kitchen. Well, it might not be the most normal course of action, but when had Summer ever cared about that?
She put the glass behind a vase on the side-table in the corner. Then she pulled the paper off and scampered to the other side of the kitchen.
This was fine, she would be alright with a little spider in the kitchen. Like she said yesterday, it might even look nice.
After excitedly telling Dan all about her spider capture at work, she went back home already anticipating her little spider having settled into its new corner. But when she stepped into the kitchen, unbidden, the jitters came back.
She set her jaw. No, not this time. With forceful steps she strode to the corner and looked into the glass. It was empty except for the tattered remains of a web. Above her, in the corner where the two walls met the ceiling, sat a tiny spider in a tiny web.
Summer smiled. A good aesthetic indeed.
Story to be continued next week;