“Why? Answer me that” the spider said, sighing resignedly. If he was trying to make me feel guilty, it wasn’t working. Oh, and I’ve called the spider ‘he’ because I had no way of telling which arachnid gender it was. It could have been either for all I knew.
“Because you make a mess, spinning your damn webs all over the place, that’s why” I told him. “The damn things trap more than your lunch, you know”
“Well, that’s an occupational hazard, you know. We spiders have no control over that” the spider said a little defensively. “Anyway, we have to have somewhere to live” he added a little smugly for my liking.
“Sure you do”, I agreed, “but why the hell does it have to be in my house?”
“It may come as surprise to you,” the spider said slowly; patiently, “but I was born here. In fact I am the latest in a long line of my family to have been born in this house; at least fifty-fifth generation”
“Fifty-fifth, huh?” I said “Impressive” I added sarcastically. “Next thing I know you’ll be telling me that you have more right to live here than I do seeing as your family have lived here for so long?”
“Now that you mention it…”
“Don’t even go there!” I exclaimed. “You’re a bloody spider, an insect, a nuisance to me and my family” I told the smug little thing.
“You brought it up” the spider retorted. I gripped the rolled-up newspaper a little tighter. Any more of his smart-ass quips and he was going to be a smear on yesterday’s headline (Supermodel in Cocaine-Fuelled Outburst at Paparazzi) if he wasn’t careful.
“Anyway, “the spider continued, “what gives you the right to go around destroying our homes? Those things don’t just make themselves, you know” he said sounding aggrieved and miffed.
“Look, I know you think they are works of art but to me they are an unsightly mess. It’s not as though you tidy up after yourself, is it?” I said
“What do you mean, tidy up?” he asked, looking at me suspiciously.
“That” I said, pointing to a large dust-encrusted web which held the mortal remains of a couple of run-of-the-mill houseflies, a half-devoured ladybird and several tiny bugs that had had the misfortune to not look where they were going when the ventured into my lounge.
“Oh, yes,” the spider said, less cocky now, “I agree, that is a mess”
“That’s why I don’t like you and your sort in my home” I told him as I flicked the mess away with the feather duster I’d been swishing around the place when I’d come across the spider walking across the ceiling.
“That one was not one of mine” he told me. “That belonged to another one of us who isn’t here anymore”
“What happened to him?” I asked, barely able to believe that the words were issuing from my mouth.
“You killed him. You gassed him” the spider said accusingly. “Not only that, you left his entire family to starve. He had a mate and offspring to support and you just killed him without a thought in the world other than your own comfort” he added slowly. Was that a slight hitch in his voice I heard, as though the ugly little creature was crying? No, must have been my imagination.
“If you expect me to feel sorry for him, then you’re barking up the wrong tree. If he hadn’t had been in my home – uninvited, I might add – he could well still be here today”.
“Is that what you’re going to do to me, then?” the spider challenged. “Are you going to gas me with your spray-thing and then suck me up in that noisy machine-thing you use?” He meant my vacuum cleaner, which is how I generally disposed of any spiders I killed with the insect spray. “It’s a horrible way to die,” the spider continued, seemingly talking more to himself than to me. “Choking, gasping for breath, feeling your insides burning, your strength failing then the darkness”
For a heartbeat or two I didn’t know what to say. I’d never thought of what it felt like fopr the spider. I had only ever wanted to be rid of the horrible creatures. It didn’t matter how to me, only that they were gone.
I didn’t even want to contemplate what it felt like to a spider to be swatted and squashed to a messy smear…
“That was my intention, yes” I admitted a tad guiltily now
I looked at the spider and he at me. Christ it was an ugly thing: little bigger than button Brussels sprout, a dirty shade of brown with hairy legs and beady eyes, he was no different from lord-knows how many of his like I had eliminated down the years.
“And now..?” he asked
I paused and thought. I reached a decision.
“Look, if you get yourself out of my house and promise to never come back I will let you leave unharmed” I offered, quite generously I thought.
“Great, real great!” the spider retorted with more than a hint of sarcasm. It’s bucketing down with rain outside and you expect me to simply pack up and leave, just like that?”
“That’s the size of it, yes” I clarified, staring him down.
“And the alternative?” he queried
“Alternative? What alternative?”
“If I don’t leave of my own free will?”
“This,” I said, brandishing the newspaper in his direction.
“You wouldn’t da…” he began
He never got to complete his sentence. Tiring of the conversation my arm twitched once and brought the weapon crashing down on the spider and he was no more. I deposited the newspaper with its messy smear obscuring the main headline into the waste bin and continued with my housecleaning.
Bloody spiders. Who the hell do they think they are?
Author Notes: No spiders were hurt in the writing of this story.