Saving Grace

Saving Grace
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Picture Credits: Couleur

Grace, a celebrated actor, sat on her chair in readiness for an interview. She was startled when she saw a huge spider hovering by the window. But instead of screaming she got up and lifted the catch. The spider darted through the open gap. Which made Grace feel good about being so in control. She asked herself what was her worst spider experience. And came up with the following:

That time when she and her friend Jayne were nine years old and a spider ran out of the old metal teapot in the shed when they kicked it over. Because they were playing how to dance like a monkey.  Their favourite game. As they swung low then high their feet crashed into the pot on a flimsy shelf. The spider fled and the two screeched in terror. Grace’s mother was busy clearing the shed and she looked a tad put out. She said later that was the moment when Grace learned to be frightened of spiders. And insisted Grace caught the fear from Jayne. So where had Jayne caught it from, Grace wondered?  But how could you catch fear anyway, she said to herself. It wasn’t a disease. Actually, that wasn’t the worst spider experience because Grace and Jayne were frightened-and-screeching together. And there was a bit of fun in that. Also, Grace’s mother liked spiders and said they were good and got rid of flies and helped to keep things clean. So there was a bit of comfort to be had as well.

What about when she lived in the dusty cottage with Jake, her then boyfriend? A spider rose on rear legs right next to them, as though delivering a warning that it was about to attack. But this was not the worst experience either because love was mixed in with everything else that happened then, even that.

Well, there was that other incident. A spider had unexpectedly concealed itself under a cloth and Grace had caught sight of it when she’d lifted up the corner. She hadn’t been able to stop shuddering.  It was hairy, and so angular. No, because, she was softened by seeing the creature had eyes.

Then there was the time this spider ran down a curtain and Grace’s partner Mick caught it to put out in the garden. But it bit his hand hard and he killed it by accident in the shock of the moment. And that was very sad. But no, because it was dead and gone so there was a bit of relief for her in that.

Or when, all furry in its netty corner of the kitchen in her new friend Bill’s house, a spider bobbed and leapt up over and over. But even though she couldn’t help seeing its roving shadow inside the tacky web Grace felt this sudden rush of warmth. Because she was sure it wasn’t about to come out of its cosy nest. Which meant that she was safe.

But it had really got to be the occasion that Grace stepped out of the bath and got her towel from behind the washbasin. She’d glanced sideways and seen something running up her bare shoulder. At the same time this was reflected in the bathroom mirror. It was the biggest spider ever. So this just had to be the very worst experience. Grace was hunched forwards yet with her shoulders jerking backwards. And she couldn’t help repeating this awkward movement even though the spider had run away by then. In fact she found she was unable to stop. Months later, whenever she told other people what she’d gone through she’d still kept on reproducing the way she had expressed her horror. Which was as often as she had an audience. Because there was something in her that needed to tell everyone and to make the perfect actions to go with the tale. And with every time she told them there was a reduction in her own bad feeling as it seeped further and further into the performance itself. So still no. No! Because that was how she learned to act.

About Jay Merill

Jay Merill lives in London UK and is Writer in Residence at Women in Publishing. Jay is runner up in the 2018 Alpine Fellowship Prize, a Pushcart Prize nominee, is the recipient of an Award from Arts Council England and the winner of the Salt short story Prize. She is the author of two short story collections (both Salt): God of the Pigeons and Astral Bodies. Jay is currently working on a third short story collection. She has a story forthcoming in Occulum and some already published in such literary magazines as 3: AM Magazine, A-Minor, Bare Fiction Magazine, CHEAP POP Lit, The Citron Review, Entropy, Epiphany, Eunoia Review, Foliate Oak, Ginosko, Gravel, Heavy Feather Review, Hobart, Jellyfish Review, Literary Orphans, The Literature, Lunch Ticket, The Manchester Review, matchbook, Matter Magazine, Per Contra, Pithead Chapel, Prairie Schooner, SmokeLong Quarterly, Spork, Storgy, Thrice Fiction, Toasted Cheese, upstreet Literary Journal and Wigleaf.

Jay Merill lives in London UK and is Writer in Residence at Women in Publishing. Jay is runner up in the 2018 Alpine Fellowship Prize, a Pushcart Prize nominee, is the recipient of an Award from Arts Council England and the winner of the Salt short story Prize. She is the author of two short story collections (both Salt): God of the Pigeons and Astral Bodies. Jay is currently working on a third short story collection. She has a story forthcoming in Occulum and some already published in such literary magazines as 3: AM Magazine, A-Minor, Bare Fiction Magazine, CHEAP POP Lit, The Citron Review, Entropy, Epiphany, Eunoia Review, Foliate Oak, Ginosko, Gravel, Heavy Feather Review, Hobart, Jellyfish Review, Literary Orphans, The Literature, Lunch Ticket, The Manchester Review, matchbook, Matter Magazine, Per Contra, Pithead Chapel, Prairie Schooner, SmokeLong Quarterly, Spork, Storgy, Thrice Fiction, Toasted Cheese, upstreet Literary Journal and Wigleaf.

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