THE WIDOW’S TALE • by J. Chris Lawrence

Ours was a curious love.

He would come every day, spending his time working on what I heard him call his “Classic Chevy”; a gargantuan beast of rust and steel, he spoke to it like a female. And I was always his lucky one.

A young spider, fresh on her web, I watched each evening as he shuffled through the door, killing any he found. The tragedy was that none of us had any way of knowing before we made our nest. It was a game of chance, and I just happened to weave mine safely out of the way; between a window pane and shelf in a corner.

Nevertheless, even the more discreet of us would suffer the fate eventually. If he was not in any such of a rush and caught sight of us along the wayside, he would stop, glaring closely into our eyes.

Then came the spray.

I watched how they writhed and twitched as the sickly sweet fumes infected the air. They would try to wash it off, but I suspect that only made it worse. It was a slow, painful death, and when it occurred, each of us simply stared on. In our hearts, we knew our time would come as well.

It had been a rather fruitful night when he finally came my way, his massive eyes glistening mere inches from my body. But there would be no spray. He simply stared as I wrapped and twisted a fly, binding it like the other I had managed to already catch.

“Good job,” echoed his titanic voice.

I wasn’t sure what he meant at first. Yet days passed and still the spray did not come. The following night I caught another, while the next, luck served me with three. I had grown rich with food, the only web cluttered with them, and as my collection expanded, he would come by, his massive face spreading into a grin, showing large, pale teeth.

“Good job, you get those bastards!” he’d bellow.

In time, I became the only remaining survivor. I thought perhaps that I was special. With each pest I fed upon there came his lovely smile; and I was growing, as was my web. Molting and aging, I admired my long, darkening legs. I would lavish in their lithe grace and power as I fell upon the prey, my fangs injecting a spray of my own.

I was safe and rich in my little corner.

One day, as the last of the amber leaves outside danced adrift on frigid winds, I caught sight of a rather beautiful change. My dull orange markings had finally grown into a vibrant, piercing crimson! Such a rich contrast against the fresh, deep obsidian of my body. I knew he would come as he always did, and I was eager and proud to show him my pretty new form.

That evening, I lay on my web, upside down, pleased with myself. Yet as he entered, he turned to me with eyes wide, and my heart sank as that precious smile turned to sneer.

“You’re a Widow?” he growled.

My skin tingled as instinct surged a warning through my body. Suddenly, he was upon me, spray in hand. I felt I should go, but I hesitated, I had to be sure.

The murder in his eyes was all I needed to see.

He raised the can and I ran; my web crystallized with beads of dripping poison. But he did not stop. He pursued me as I went, spraying a long swath in my wake. I dropped hard to the cold floor, ducking under what he called a lawn mower. It was then that he finally gave up.

Frightened, I waited for his noise to fall silent, and still I waited longer. The air was thick with the poison’s pungent aroma. It dizzied me, turning my guts. My instincts called me to my window, to my pestilential web, but I knew there would be no returning; the noxious stench reminder enough of what dour fate awaited me there.

Thrice over my luck had proven true. I was alive, and free to make my leave. But as I lay in the dank shadow of the mower, I thought hard about where I should go. I knew from my window that outside was a vast, frightening land of light and cold. I would have to traverse that to find another warm, dark home. Yet I could not leave, not yet. I did not understand his actions! I desired closure.

Resigned to my decision, I abandoned my safety, crawling along the cluttered floor into the mouth of danger. It was upon the open hood of his Chevy that I settled, waiting long through the night for him to come again.

And come he did.

He opened the door with a choke, waving his hand through the dusty air. Perhaps his spray is not so good for him either, I thought as I watched him walk past my abandoned web, uttering a pleased grunt. He shuffled his way toward his Chevy, closer and closer to me. Still I watched as he pulled a large tool from his work table, and with a cough, bent over the “Engine” below me.

Calm and stoic, I gazed down upon the dark curls of his hair, the pale pink nape of his neck. I admit I felt quite the mixture of emotions. Perhaps I should have hated him. I wanted to! But I admit I felt a certain love for him as well. I wanted to be bigger than hate, better than that. Perhaps I would never understand his sudden rage, but I did not want to leave, engulfed by that pain.

So I chose to forgive.

Sliding silently along my silk, I descended, my legs outstretched. I knew I would need to leave, and soon, but as my dark limbs fell gently upon the soft of his flesh, I wanted dearly to give him one final kiss goodbye.

Born in the Blue Ridge Mountains of West Virginia, J. Chris Lawrence spent much of his life traveling. With a love for fiction, he fancies himself a writer, and hopes to convince others of the same. He currently lives in Georgia with his wife and two sons.

This story is sponsored by
Debi Blood — It pays to have The Glendale Witch on your side.

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