I have feared spiders since birth. Well, maybe not birth. I was a trifle busy that day. But sometime after that I found out that there were spiders. I realized on my own that they were evil. Works, if you will, of Beelzebub, Satan, The Dark One Who Lives Below.
Up until I was nine my mother killed all spiders for me. In our house, in the car, in the yard. I made her kill spiders in stores. I could not suffer a spider to live. It freaked me out to think that they were still there . . . Somewhere . . . Probably plotting to crawl across my face as I slept. They had to be destroyed. My mother was the spider eradicator.
One evening, when I was nine, I was sitting on the floor of our living room watching television. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a movement. I turned. Time seemed to stop. There, standing not four feet from me, was a spider. I shrieked for my mother as if Freddy Kruger were breaking in to murder me. My mother, naturally, came a runnin’.
What greeted my mother’s panicked eyes? Me screaming in front of the television and pointing at the floor. The spider, you see, was so small that she couldn’t see it until she knelt down beside me…and squinted. She pointed this out to me. I continued to hyperventilate. My mother decided that this tiny creature would be my first kill. My practice spider, if you will. A warm up for all the times she wouldn’t be there later on in life and I’d have to squash spiders with extreme prejudice by myself.
My mother handed me a rolled up magazine. I took it with hands made shaky with fear. I took a deep breath, crawled up behind the spider, in case it decided to bolt (how did I decide what the back was? No idea. I just knew.), raised my arm and…THWACK! The magazine came down on the spider with all the miniscule strength in my nine year old arm. I looked under the magazine. The spider moved. I hit it again. I looked again. The spider crawled to the left. I hit it again…and again…and again. I looked. The spider crept to the right….And this, my friends, is when I lost my mind.
I grabbed my math book and began pounding the spider over and over again while screaming, at the top of my considerable lungs, DIE! DIE! My mother, who had gone back to the kitchen, came a runnin’ once again. She grabbed me up and sat me on the couch. I continued to stare, fixedly, at the book laying on top of, what I assumed was, The Spider Who Wouldn’t Die. She demanded to know what had happened.
Through my tears I looped up at my mother. “It won’t die,” I said. “It has to die.” My mother went over and lifted up the book. She took a tissue from the side table, scooped up the spider, and squished it between her paper covered fingers. “There,” she said. “Dead. Happy now?” I nodded.
I never had to kill another spider….