IT’S FRIDAY. How is it Friday already? How did the week go by? I mean, some parts of it seemed to take FOREVER but suddenly it’s OVER and I’m so confused.
Let me tell you a story about a time I was a completely pathetic child.
Picture the scene. It is around half past one in the morning. I have been reading a book (Chaos: I Bring The Fire Part III by C. Gockel, because I may have left Old Norse behind me but I can’t let go of Loki entirely) since about midnight because I MAKE BAD LIFE CHOICES LIKE THAT.
Eventually I decide I should go to bed, so I go to my room, change into pyjamas, and am about to start my usual routine of taking my pills, writing, my journal, etc etc, when I hear a scuttling sound. It sounds like a mouse. Is it a mouse? I don’t want there to be a mouse in my room — droppings are so inconvenient to deal with and it’ll keep me awake and it might eat my clothes or electrical wires. That said, I no longer suffer the awful fear of mice I had when I was a kid. They’re too cute for me to hate them now.
So. I think it is a mouse. I look across at the floor where the sound is coming from and — AND OH MY HAMLET THAT ISN’T A MOUSE, THAT’S A SPIDER AT LEAST THE SIZE OF A MOUSE.
Okay. My Australian readers (if I have any) are probably laughing at me right now. So are those who are from any horrendous hellpit where spiders are habitually that big and larger. But I am a BRIT. I am a Brit and I am not used to dealing with spiders that are more than about a centimetre long.
This is quite possibly the largest spider I’ve ever seen in my life, barring those you see in zoos and the like. Tarantulas, that sort of thing. This is not a tarantula. This is just a large, brown, ugly spider, the size of the palm of my hand, AND IT’S IN MY ROOM.
I do the only logical thing and I panic.
As a child I was terrified of spiders along with nearly all over insects, mice, rats, and anything else that scuttled. I got over the mouse fear when I was about twelve and ended up in a staring contest with a baby mouse (long story), and gradually I learned to tolerate most small beasties. I even went through a phase of thinking my way out of spider fear, because it was totally illogical and there was no reason to be scared of them.
But I know it’s not logical. It’s not. It’s a stupid phobia but somewhere along the line it appeared again, rearing its ugly head like I DON’T KNOW, MAYBE A SPIDER and now I’m more scared of them than I was before, however much I try to tell myself that it’s silly.
I don’t like killing beasties. I regard the creature on the floor. If it were smaller, I’d still be freaking out, but I’d try and catch it in a cup and throw it out of the window in the bathroom. But this one is too big for any of the cups I might be able to grab it in. Plus, the speed it scuttled across the floor, there’s no way I can catch it. Oh gods, what if it scuttles onto ME? What if it decides it wants to crawl up my Moomin pyjamas?
I hyperventilate, and look around for a weapon. There: a plastic toolbox of art stuff. It’s got clay, acrylic paint, and other heavy things. It should be heavy enough. With every last crumb of my bravery I get close enough to drop the box on top of the spider.
But it’s not a flat surface, because my room’s a tip — the spider was on a pile of stuff, and the box doesn’t land firmly. I throw a slipper at the box as though that might help and sit, frozen, in the middle of my bed.
And then I hear it. Moving. Underneath the box.
The spider isn’t dead.
That’s it — I’m done. There is no way I’m lifting the box up to see the state of the poor creature, nor am I going to risk it crawling out and seeking revenge for the injury I’ve done it. I run to my parents’ room, sobbing, and stammer that they have to help me because there’s a spider and it’s not dead, it’s not dead, it should be dead but it isn’t and help it’s really big
Mother Person, who isn’t currently asleep, goes into my room while I stand in the corridor having a breakdown. Like, literally, sobbing with fear. I can’t help it. I’m on the verge of a full-blown panic attack. WHAT IF THERE ARE MORE OF THEM? If this one GINORMOUS beast could get in my room, how many more have? I haven’t opened my window. MAYBE THEY HAVE A SECRET PASSAGE. Will its relatives come and hunt me down to avenge this one’s death?
Mum deals with the spider and agrees that it is indeed a very large spider. Then I cry on her, and she tells me that if my room was tidier, I would have been able to kill the beastie with the art box, because it would have been a flat surface. She tells me this kind of thing quite often, but so far I haven’t acted on the suggestion.
“It wasn’t dead,” she adds. “I think you mortally wounded it. Poor thing.”
After I have calmed down, taken my meds, written my journal and turned off my light, everything that brushes against my skin feels like a spider. Even the slightest breath of air causes me to slap at my arms, and I end up wrapping myself in my quilt like a caterpillar to protect me from any beasties that might crawl in.
It is a very, very long time before I manage to get to sleep.
I am nineteen years old, and a spider reduced me to a sobbing wreck from the other side of the room. And I can’t even grudge it the victory. It won. It won that one fair and square. Because it just had SO MANY LEGS.
So many legs.