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Flash Nonfiction: Thou Art Ashes You Arachnid

I live in a stunningly, magical place that has only one true nightmare: monster sized spiders. Everyone has their fears I suppose, and I wouldn’t call my fear of spiders paranoia, but prudence.

At the moment, I live with my parents in the wilds of Pennsylvania, deep in the spider-infested land of the backcountry. The trees stand regally among the minivan-sized boulders and thickets of poison ivy. The trees are the majestic beasts of the plant world.

When you live in the middle of the woods, you inexplicably sign up to be annoyed by all matter of creepy, crawly creatures. But is there one ever so small but wicked creature as the spider? With their surprise attacks, guerrilla warfare tactics, and their furry camouflage, they are made for battle. Spiders are the vicious beasts of the insect world.

Many a time, I will cheerfully take out the compost and swing the bucket in my arm, not a care in the world. I usually go to the pile of old decaying food with a neutral, if uncaring attitude. But then… It hits me. I run smack into the sticky, slickery veins of a spiders web. Their trap is perfectly laid across the path. Always ready, always waiting to catch their prey, whether bug or human-sized.

I do the spider web dance: spinning and spitting, cursing the spider, and attempting to wipe away the invisible lines of string across my skin. I rub every surface, screeching and bemoaning my once uneventful day. Now, I will see spiders everywhere, be jittery, and waiting for another attack. I leave the battle sight, shivering, still feeling the web on me and scratching my scalp, wondering if the captain is there.

Letter board saying and a little free write inspired bu the phrase

It’s late December and the weather has finally turned cold. Just in time for Christmas, temperatures dive and spirits rise. I feel good coming home from school, energetic yet impatient for the break to begin.

Our house is freezing; not much warmer inside than outside where the naked trees seem to shiver without their leaves. I decide to start a fire in the woodstove; I decide not to be lazy, really and sit stubbornly in a drafty house cursing the cost of electricity that prevents me from turning on the central heating.

So, I prep the stove. Opening the door, laying twigs just so in the ash to allow good ventilation for the logs. I venture down to the basement to retrieve some. I’m too lazy to put on gloves as it happens, figuring that I will just wash my hands after starting the fire.

I open the back door as the cold air washes over me. The wood pile is stacked high against the wall three rows deep. It smells of rotting leaves and damp dirt. I put two sturdy logs in the crook of my left arm and a smaller log on top of those.

I open and close the basement door with my foot dangling in my dad’s oversized slippers. Kicking the slippers off, I pad my way upstairs to the woodstove and a soon to be cozy room for writing.

I kneel in front of the open door and lay the smaller log next to the metal fire poker. I juggle the logs in the crook of my arm and put one log delicately on the floor of the woodstove. I take the other piece of wood in both hands and there on the top of the log just inches from my hand postures a monster spider!

My life flashes before my eyes as the spider and I stare at each other. It’s half the size of my palm! I throw the log haphazardly into the stove quick to get rid of the menace. Ash splooshes everywhere, puffing out of the fireplace in a cloud of fine gray dust.

I’m in a panic; I crumble newspaper and throw it between the logs, shoving the smaller log ontop and fumbling for the matches. I consider saving the spider for a millisecond before I conclude that I’m already too far. The spider is deep within the recesses of the wood stove ready to become ashes itself. I feel evil but powerful. Here am I with the fate of a creature’s life in the (almost) palm of my hand.

I strike the match and the snap of its ignition fuels my wickedness. I barely light the edge of the newspaper before shutting the door, sealing the spider into its pyre. I watch as the logs catch fire, unthinking, unfeeling. I go wash my hands of dirt and potential poison ivy.

But today, today my friend, I won the battle. I can now forget spiders and not see them on every surface. I conquered the eight-legged captain! But will I win the war?

Happy (spider free) Day-

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