A bit of "arachno-fiction" for The Writer's Cramp
|Julina squatted to get a better view of the small black form hanging from the window sill. All around it, tiny strands radiated in various directions, forming a slipshod network from floor to radiator to corner hutch to window frame.
Julina leaned in close enough to get a clear view of the eight bulbous eyes, but not so close that she'd blow the little critter off its web with her breath. “Obviously, you're a house spider,” she said. “But are you a common house spider? Because I need to write a story about a common house spider, and I'm not sure what 'common' means in the spider world.”
Julina's house itself was anything but common – a two-hundred-year-old New England Colonial, which no doubt had hosted many generations of spiders. Julina always left them alone, because she knew they helped control the occasional fly or mosquito that got into the house, and because she wouldn't harm any living creature that wasn't trying to harm her.
The floor beneath the window sill was littered with various bug parts that, Julina assumed, probably weren't very appealing to a spider's palate. Or maybe they were leftovers, just lying around until the next mealtime. And among the bug parts were tiny spatters of white, which had drawn Julina's attention to that corner of the room in the first place. If she had known they were spider droppings, she might have been just as disgusted as her mother would be when she discovered them later. Julina assumed the spatters were somehow related to the bug parts, but she was more interested in the spider than what mess lay below it. “I wonder whether you're a girl or a boy,” she said. “Because if you're a girl, I should call you 'Charlotte.' And if you're a boy, I'll call you 'Charlie'. But I don't know, so I'll just call you 'Char'.”
From the moment Julina had spotted the spider, it hadn't moved. “You are alive, aren't you?” She eased a finger toward her new friend, who answered by scooting up one of the strands to the radiator. “You'd better be careful,” said Julina. When the heat comes on, you might get burned.” She wagged her finger in front of Char to scare it back to a safer spot, and the spider responded by jumping onto Julina's finger.
“Ohh. Julina instinctively jerked her hand back, but Char stayed put. “Well,” said Julina, “I guess you're not going to bite me, so I think we'd better move you to someplace where Mom won't find you.” She slowly rose to her feet and headed for her bedroom, gingerly holding her hand in front of her. And minutes later, Char had a new home behind a dresser, with a sparkling clean floor underneath, and a nine-year old guardian who was now in the yard trying to catch bugs in a jar. She'd write the story about a common house spider later, but Char had risen above 'common' in her eyes, so the story would require a bit of imagination.