When you hope it is a prank but you are too tired to care.
"Your shoulder! Mom, I'm not joking! Spider!"
The shriek seems genuine, but this song and dance is a broken record. 'Scaring Mom' is his thing. My scream, jumping, delayed reactions produce more laughter than grandparents sucking helium.
"Why are you trying to trick me? Can't we just finish the garage? Quit stalling."
"I know I joke around, but not this time! Mom, it's crawling!"
"Sure. Grab another trash bag. No one ever died from invisible spiders."
"Mom, you're gonna be mad when it bites you. And sorry you didn't listen!"
Wiping, layers of sweat-filled dust from my forehead, I smile. "Yep. I'm gonna be mad."
"You're gonna be mad no matter what?! If it bites you, you're mad! If there's not a spider, you're mad? How's this my fault!"
"Get to cleaning and I won't be quite so mad as my skin rots from phantom spider venom." I search for the dust pan for the millionth time.
Picking up the garbage, he stares at me unsure of how to respond, wondering what alien inhabited his mother who's afraid of every creepy crawly creature.
Oh, Jesus, please let that be sweat trailing down my neck or even a rabid beetle. Just not a spider! My thoughts race as I'm frozen anticipating impending death.
"Reese, it's really a. . . you know?" I whisper.
The silent laughter begins as he swipes my shoulder. "Relax. I got it."
"There was a spider!?"
"A smallish one, kinda black and hairy. Are ya mad I saved you?"
I can't breath. "Have fun cleaning. I don't do spiders. Real or imaginary."
"But, that's not. . . "
His voice trails as I rush to the shower to clean all possible spider DNA from my body.