The False Widow

I have a fear of spiders. I know that most people do, but they have what I like to call a “natural fear”. A strong general dislike of ugly things. For example, people who have a natural fear of spiders probably have a fear of shellfish, bald cats and hyenas. People who have a natural fear don’t like spiders in the moment. They see them. They fear them. They get rid of them. They forget. My fear isn’t natural. It’s all encompassing. I fear spiders. I quite like bald cats.

I took the ring. I know it was wrong, but it fit so nicely around my finger. I looked around. Nobody  noticed, so I straightened my back, fixed my hair and walked away. The door bell twinkled as I left. It made my heart flutter. I know it was wrong. I was caught in the moment. My heart fluttered.

I went straight home. Locked the door. I was about to close the curtains when I stopped myself. It would look too suspicious, you see. So I kept them open. It was a nice day anyway. My house is south-facing so the sun beamed right through. Made me feel elated. I examined my prize. It sparkled, reflecting off the walls, bouncing against the fabric of my cushions. They were one-hundred percent cotton. It all looked very decadent.

I stopped shopping in the local. Instead I drove to a store just outside of town. Every Sunday. I had to do something on a Sunday. I couldn’t return to church, that would make me a hypocrite. So I would shop every Sunday, in this store just outside of town. There, the ring received many compliments. People began asking about it, so I lied. I know it was wrong.¬† Although the more I lied the better I became at telling the story.

My other half is a businessman. High-end. Classy. How else could he afford a ring like this? Works in stocks and shares. Stressful life I know, but he never takes it with him. He leaves work at work. Then he comes home to me.

The shop owner was scanning my groceries. He looked at the ring. Then he looked at me. He looked at the groceries. Then he looked at the ring again. I felt cold. I should’ve brought a cardigan. I tried to smile, scoop up my things and leave. I was clumsy and tripped on the way out. I managed to stay upright. Looked back. He was still looking. Looking at me.

I went straight home. Locked the doors and resisted the temptation to close the curtains. The ring felt heavy. I took the groceries into the kitchen and began to unpack. I realised. One carton of milk. One potato. Small loaf of bread. Hardly for a growing family. The ring felt like a dead weight. I went upstairs, went straight to my drawer, put the ring in. Locked the drawer. Put the key in the plant pot. I sat in the living room then, silence covering me like a blanket. It was suffocating.

I would start again. A new beginning.

I once read that a giant, foreign spider came out of a bunch of bananas. Never much liked bananas anyway, so I stuck to apples. One day, I sat down to eat an apple when I thought of the foreign banana-loving spider. I looked at my apple. Imagined that a large, long legged arachnid had made it’s home inside, had eaten the apple’s flesh and stretched it’s long legs out. That way the apple still had the appearance of an apple, but hid a sinister truth. The apple’s skin was a facade. Inside it was a spider, waiting for me. I grabbed all my apples and burned them in the fire. I could see they were all regular apples. I was slightly annoyed, but I felt like I was one step ahead.

That week, I returned to my normal grocery store. People were pleasant enough. They would look at me and smile, like they recognised a face they almost forgot. I could buy my normal things again. One potato. Small loaf of bread. I also bought a few of the local papers, just to check if there was any evidence of my crime. Maybe things had quietened down, maybe they had forgotten. The cashier didn’t look at me. I made a point of looking at him, I tried to entice. He asked me if I wanted to pay by card. I handed cash. He didn’t look. He wouldn’t even know my name.

I went home and kept the curtains open. Read the papers. Nothing. I unpacked. Cleaned my house until it was immaculate. I sat in the living room for a while. Then I thought I should buy a clock, thinking it would be nice to hear the tick. So I decided to go back to the store, only this time to the one outside of town. I suppose I remembered they sold nice clocks there. Better ones. I looked at my bare hand. What would I say?

Silly really, it fell down the drain. Imagine. I know!

No, no it wasn’t right. They would assume my relationship was over.

I had to get it resized. Lost a bit of weight. It was wriggling away, far to precious to lose. Better to part with it for a while than forever!

They would definitely think my relationship was over.

I decided. Just this once, just to get my new clock. I got the key from the plant pot. Went straight to my bedroom. Turned the key, opened the drawer. It was then I screamed. Beside the ring was a spider. A very large, fat, greedy spider. I slammed the drawer shut and fell to the ground.

I saw on the news that false widows had invaded the country. I spent that evening cleaning my windows, to make sure none had invaded my house. I didn’t have time to look. It could be a widow. It could bite me. Kill me. I twitched. Rolled on the floor. It was on me. It was crawling up my spine…

No, it was in the drawer. With the ring. Locked away.

I needed to get rid of it. I ran downstairs. Grabbed my spatula. Returned and was ready for battle. I took a moment to analyse the drawer. I bought the dressing table from an antiques merchant. It was built of a fine mahogany. The locked drawer was a bonus. It was a beautiful piece of furniture. I was always proud of it. Standing there though, spatula in hand, I wouldn’t have cared if it was chopped to pieces, incinerated, blasted, destroyed. I wanted it gone. Out of my house.

What I cared for was the ring. I wanted it back.

So I stretched the spatula out, slid it into the crevice of the drawer. My chest began to hurt from my heart battering it. My arms felt weak and my throat was dry. A part of me wanted to run away. A part of me wanted to vomit. A part of me wanted to die. I took a breath and opened the drawer. My spatula was at the ready.

The greedy big spider had moved, it’s body over the ring, shielding it from me. I couldn’t squish it, because it would tarnish the diamonds. I closed the drawer. That spider was smart. I gagged thinking about it. The spatula was useless now. I had to find another way.

I got in the car and drove. My mind was a carousel spinning wildly out of control. I remember someone pulled out in front of me, some neighbourhood driver. I had no time to engage in any polite driving etiquette. I slammed my hand on the horn and sped past. I didn’t realise where I was travelling until I arrived there. At the store, the one outside of town. I wandered in, I could feel my eyes were glazed. I’m sure they were looking at me. All of them. I held onto my car keys, placing one of the loops around my finger. I grabbed a basket and made my way down the aisle, looking for it. Rat poison. Pest control. Bug spray. I took what I could.

The cashier looked at the poison, at the sprays and the bleach. He looked at all of them. I kept my hands concealed behind the counter. He must have thought I was the black widow, I was the creature. That I was plotting some wicked sins.

My other half is a businessman. Stocks and shares. He is a good man. My ring is being resized. Almost fell down the drain. I’ve lost a bit of weight. He always comes home to me.

I smiled. I wanted to be confident, I wanted to show my innocence, but I felt the guilt bubbling beneath my skin. He could see my scars, the poison in me. My smile must have looked fake. Fake smiles look terrifying. He packed away my items in a paper bag. To conceal them, probably. I almost ran out of the shop. I needed to keep my composure. Keep the curtains open.

I returned home then, readying myself to tackle the beast. It took some time for me to regain my composure. I thought of it up there, with the ring, wrapping it’s black legs around my prize. Its eyes unblinking, its body jerking and twitching, ready to hiss. Ready to attack.

It was punishment. I knew it was. Divine intervention had struck, sending dark shadows through my house. No surprise, really. I knew it was wrong. I lacked innocence and sympathy. I was morally damaged. So I had to suffer. This was the price I had to pay.

I set out my armour in a neat line. Pouring myself a glass of wine I climbed the stairs. It felt like the death march. There it was, the dressing table. It was like the spider apple now, I hated it. I was ready though. I had wine in one hand and a bucket of death ingredients in the other. I took out the spray. I could get it from a distance. Spray and run away, that was my brilliant plan. I downed the wine and set it on the counter. Holding the spray high in the air I reached for the handle. The only thing blocking that spider from me was three inches of wood. I felt sick. I pulled the handle. The spider was waiting for me. I rested my thumb on the trigger.

I have a fear of spiders. Not a natural fear, one that is all encompassing. I didn’t kill it though. I couldn’t go through with the assassination. I took my time and examined her for what she really was. A creature, locked away in a silent box, guarding her jewel. Clinging onto a fantasy. What a cruel and underserving life. So instead I took out a magazine and my wine glass, covered the creature and coaxed it into my trap. I wish I could say I bravely walked down stairs and opened the door and released her. I whimpered and cried and it took me five minutes to open the drawer. I did set her free though. She scuttled away as fast as her eight legs could carry her. I went inside and vomited.

The next day I returned the ring. I left it on the step. I hurried home and made tea and sat in the living room. I imagined lots of people, standing over my prize, scratching their heads. I laughed. Then it faded.

I forgot to buy a clock.

The ticking would annoy me after a while, so I would buy a bald cat too. She would meow and eat spiders. Just as long as it wasn’t my spider. We were both false widows, after all.