I was taking one of those long showers when no one is home and I can use all the hot water without even thinking about it, and I don’t have to worry about a knock on the door. I was getting really lost.
Then he showed up. The spider.
(Even just a few years ago, I would have jumped out of the tub, half-scared, half-angry, grabbed a huge wad of toilet paper and squashed the thing.)
But my daughter changed all that. She loves anything that breathes, that creates, that moves by itself, however slowly or creepily. And she wouldn’t let me kill spiders any more. Eventually, my fear of them went away.
So, seeing a spider in the shower didn’t make me jump. I stared, more fascinated than frightened, watching him scurry and climb and slide, in that order, and to no avail. Watching it all, an indifferent onlooker. I twisted at the hips to and fro to allow the water to splash off the tops of my shoulders in such a precise arc as to the spray the spider around the base of the tub.
Splash slide scurry. Splash slide scurry. Splash slide scurry.
And then nothing. The spider stopped. He huddled in a corner, curled in his legs, and bent himself into a jumbled mess of kinked black wire. He looked dead, was seeking death.
There is nothing so pathetic (and so compelling) as when a life gives up its quest.
I turned the nozzle into the wall, grabbed a loofa, and gingerly placed it next to the black scribble. It didn’t take long for him to unscramble himself and climb aboard. Like Huck Finn, he stepped onto his untrustworthy raft, less worried about destiny than survival.
The first time I lifted the raft, we both panicked. He went for my fingers, I threw the loofa, and he jumped back into the tub.
The second time, there was a bit more trust or a bit more fear – I’m not sure which – but he didn’t move, and I didn’t move and I got him out of the tub, away from the mean ol’ Mississippi and onto the shore of a fluffy white bath mat.
We went back to getting lost in our separate worlds. He, in the spider world and me, in the person world, our appreciation for each other already fading in the same way hot water cools down as you get used to it, and silence starts off wonderful but eventually makes you feel lonely.
I was careful when I stepped onto the mat and pleased when I saw him clinging to the bottom of the curtain, the two of us, filling the house. And I’m not sure if it was out of fear or out of trust, but he didn’t move a single, wiry leg while I dried off.