I woke up after the storm and went outside to see what had been broken. The deck was intact, but all around the trees were crushed like bad teeth. My eye was drawn to the center of the gray deck where above the strewn pine needles and sticks, just inches over a composite-wood plank, there was floating a small round white thing, a puff, what looked like part of a piece of popcorn. We had not eaten popcorn last night, before the storm, after, or during. We watched a movie, but we didn’t eat popcorn.
Yet there it was, hovering. A tiny dove on a plateau of wind. I watched it until I was covered with dew, then I turned on the intestinal hose of an inflatable whale sprinkler that had been punctured by the wind. The water sprayed out meekly, so unlike the rainstorm that had destroyed the whale. The hose barely moved the floating piece of popcorn. I pulled the spray closer, but the popcorn barely shook, suspended in mid-air against the water.
I decided it was not a part of a piece of popcorn, but a spider’s egg. After all, it was hanging from a spider’s web. I wondered how many fetal spiders were in there. It was so tiny. What I remembered from storybooks and documentaries was that spiders gave birth to thousands of babies. There were thousands of lives inside that tiny dangling popcorn egg. I didn’t want so many spiders around my family’s old house, the one I was taking care of after my parents’ divorce, eventually trying to sell, get rid of once and for all.
I held the hose right up close to the egg. Point blank. I blasted it. Then I rubbed the wet egg into the deck with my foot.
I spent the rest of the day cleaning up after the storm. Just the deck, not the world around it, which remained broken. For that, I would call the insurance company. By the time I was able to sleep, the deck was as clean and gray as it had ever been.
The next morning I woke up and went outside for a cigarette. The egg was still there. It was dangling, like an angel, from a nearly invisible thread the same as before. It was like it had never moved. It was also like I had never killed all those spiders. Like I had been given a second chance.
I was tempted to wake my girlfriend up—she didn’t like to get up before noon—and ask her if she had bought popcorn and was hiding it from me. I peered at the thing even closer this time, so it was almost touching my eyeball. It was definitely a spider’s egg, I thought. I considered not crushing it this time around. I was uncomfortable about it.
But I did it anyway. I didn’t want the house to have any more spiders than it already did. We already had a lot of spiders.
The next day the porch was empty of floating eggs. I imagined a mother spider broken inside, weeping out of many eyes, tucked somewhere in the tree above me. I wished she would just move on.
Timmy Reed is a writer and teacher from Baltimore, Maryland. He spends a lot of his free time dreaming because its mostly what he can afford. He is the author of Tell God I Don’t Exist, The Ghosts That Surrounded Them, Stray/Pest, Miraculous Fauna, Star Backwards, and I.R.L. You can be confident he probably loves you. He teaches writing, reading, and ESL to college students and gives history and culinary tours of Baltimore City.
Photo credit: stephaniec, morguefile.com