Sitting behind the wheel, I look through the rain to my new house. My new beginning.
I am reminded of a story I read once. A woman was driving, when she noticed a spider in her lap. She panicked, tried to swat it away, and then she lost control of the car. She’d driven into a church, of all things. When they pulled her out of the wreckage, her body was mangled, and her face locked in fright. They proclaimed her dead at the scene. They knew about the spider, because it walked up the paramedic’s arm, uninjured.
I think about that woman, and her husband. I think of the phone call he must have got-
I grip the wheel.
Such a waste. Such a horrible, pointless, death. And why did it have to be a spider? She’d always hated spiders-
(I suppose. I guess. I mean, doesn’t everyone?)
Every time I get behind a wheel, I think about that poor woman, and her husband. Sometimes I think of the spider, though I’m not sure why.
The worst thing about moving house is the unpacking. I sit in my living room, surrounded by boxes. They look absurdly like coffins. Like pieces of life that have been sealed off and prepared for interment.
Some boxes I must open, others I must not.
There is one box in particular that must not be opened.
I wonder how many years would have gone by before I’d noticed anything, if it hadn’t been for that box?
The day I moved in, the first thing I did was to put the box away in a cupboard. I pushed it to the back, determined to forget about it. But every time I opened the door, there it was, that day, entombed for all time in a cardboard vault. One day I snapped, I couldn’t bear knowing it was there. I’d avoided the cupboard for a month, before I decided to move the box to the attic, and let a veil of dust gently bury it.
I picked it up, tenderly, and pulled down the ladder. I wonder now why I hadn’t gone up there sooner? Had I a natural aversion, an instinct?
I opened the hatch, and climbed up. I switched on a small pocket torch, and gave the room a cursory look, before placing the box down at my feet.
It was as I was descending that I saw it.
I was uncertain what I’d seen, at the corner of my eye, so I decided to take a look. Just in case it was some rubbish, something left by the house’s previous owner that I’d have to deal with.
At first I thought it was a cobweb, picked out feebly by my small light. But I followed the web with the torch, followed it, followed it…
It took up half the room. There was a black mass at the centre. Spiders, I saw. There could have been hundreds.
They were all still. I thought they were dead, before I saw the thing above them twitching. The light, now shaking, climbed to pick out a grotesque detail; a much larger spider was in the centre of the web, devouring a dead bird that it held, almost cradled, in its twitching limbs.
I hurried away, disturbed by the image. That night, as I lay in bed, straining to hear the spiders somewhere above me, I began to understand the importance of what I had seen.
The spiders had been prostrate before their God. The bird had been a sacrifice. I wept for joy.
At first I was afraid of my thoughts, but slowly the fear fell away and was replaced with purpose.
The next day I ascended again, then I threw the steps away, so I could not be followed. I knelt. I humbled myself. I worshipped. I carefully took the wedding dress out of the box, spread it out on the ground, then lay with my face in the cool soothing material.
Eventually I looked up to the church the spiders had made, and stared until darkness absorbed my eyes. I whispered, seeking to commune, to find solace.
God had taken her from me. But that was okay. I could find another God, and pray to that.
The first spider had been a messenger. Her fear had provoked it, I saw that now. If I concentrated, I would be able to see the pattern in the web that it had woven with her death. Then I would be able to unweave it. Or the web could be extended, and new connections be made, from me to her-
And then I could ask her to come back.