I forget the day that I first saw the spiders. Scuttling, half imagined, peripheral. I dismissed them as a figment, the product of lingering illness or exhaustion. They were persistent. Distant then, but always moving, driven by strange vectors that I could not plot, frustrating but not threatening.

And then I saw that some were still. Evolved from movement to observation, and yet bristling with the potential to burst into action. First light, first sight, in the corner above the cupboard. Waiting. A faint single cobweb, hanging from the porch lamp that brushed across my face on my way home, or snagged the hairs on my bare arms,  intangible, impossible to touch but felt for frantic minutes, fingers scrubbing: get out, be damned. The single spot of guilt borne blood.

They became bolder. Not just floating at the edge of vision but running in crabwise eight-leg procession, unfeasibly fast, unbearably alien. First light, first sight, in the corner above the bed, watching waiting.

It was weeks before they showed their true aggression. The smallest, almost imperceptible, and hanging just below my eye line on gossamer that caught the light like an illusion. An invitation to engage, “see I am here, acknowledge I am in your life, I am in your head.”

Probing forays, the sensation of their drumming feet across my back, waking from half asleep to leap in shock. They grew the confidence to crawl across my slumber skin, fearless for all the tossing, turning peril until insomnia borne from accreted terror had me stabbing at the slightest shift of cotton sheets. Sobbing blanket swathed, please keep away, please keep away, please keep away.

Body craving rest, the drowsy nest, my body tented on the bed. Failed sentry. First light, first sight, corner above the bed and dropping.


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2 thoughts on “Spiders

  1. Ali, you have a fluid and lyrical way of expressing even the deepest or most ancient of human fears. I wonder if a person with “true” arachnophobia could even read this. I think it would be far too creepy, even though beautifully told.


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