Just west of the Midwest Chapter 20: Along Came a Spider

Upon returning from a weekend trip away recently, Sam was spending the night and preparing a bath when I heard a blood-curdling scream. Seconds later, she came running into the bedroom, pale and moaning.

“Anne, there’s an enormous spider in the bathroom! Please, you have to go in there and kill it!”

Now, mind you, you know how I feel about killing anything. So, I simply turned to my dear, arachnophobic friend and said, “Just leave it be, Sam. It’s not going to hurt you.”

“I don’t think you understand,” she squealed. “This is not your ordinary spider! It’s… it’s HUGE. I’ve never seen anything like it!”

“Please,” she begged with an unmistakable sense of urgency and fear, “just go into there and look.”

Rolling my eyes and sighing at her silliness, I slowly made my way to the bathroom to allay her fears and remove the poor, maligned creature. However, by the time I got there the offending arachnid had disappeared.

I looked high and low.

Behind the tub.

Under the towels.

The innocent, little thing had obviously skittered away.

I informed Sam the spider had departed and that she could return to preparing her bath, but she refused to re-enter the bathroom and spent the rest of the evening looking fearful and suspicious, relentless in her attempts to convince me that what she’d seen was certainly the result of nuclear fallout. I, however, merely attributed her anxiety to an irrational fear of nature’s web-spinning wonders and didn’t give the incident much thought.

Until a few days later.

I will never doubt my dear friend again.

Returning from grocery shopping with arms full, I stepped into the kitchen and there, in the center of my kitchen floor, was, indeed, the most colossal, the hairiest, the ugliest spider that I’d ever had the displeasure of seeing without a glass enclosure between us.

Now I want all of you to put your right hand in front of your face and spread your fingers out as far as they can go. That, my friends, was the size of my eight-legged intruder.

I dropped the bags of groceries where I stood and did the only thing I could think of doing.

I ran in circles around my apartment.

“Oh god, oh god, oh god,” I sniveled and wailed as I ran from room to room, avoiding the kitchen at all costs, soon realizing this was accomplishing absolutely nothing and that the longer I panicked, the greater the opportunity the spider would have to return to wherever it was lurking inside my apartment.

I knew I had to act.

“Crap,” I whimpered aloud. “I have to kill it!”

I couldn’t fathom killing anything that size. Nor could I imagine tucking myself into my floor level futon that night knowing that the spider (who easily had the weight advantage) was still crawling about. So, I resolved to grab the nearest  – and heaviest  – book I could find and headed to the kitchen, summoning what little grit and determination I could muster.

The bristly beast was still there.

Taunting me with its stillness.

I crept as close to the spider as I deemed safe, raised the book over my head, shuddered, took aim, closed my eyes and…

“SLAM!”

I expected spider guts galore.

Was prepared to see appendages – still squiggling –  crawling my way. Or, at the very least, hear something of substance being crushed by the biblio-blow I just delivered.

But the enormous arachnid just went “Poof!”

And disintegrated like a dust bunny.

Although I was surprised by the lack of corporeal remains, I was confident the creature was no more.

The following day, I bragged of my bravery to the folks at the office. When they finished laughing, Kacho explained that the spider had likely molted (shed its hairy frickin’ exoskeleton for god’s sake!) and was probably still in my apartment. When Yoshino-san saw the panic-stricken look on my face, she tried to assure me that the humongous trespasser was not poisonous. There was absolutely no reason to worry.

I haven’t slept well for days.

I keep waking with night sweats.

And images of a child-sized spider sitting on my chest.

Holding eight very, heavy books over its head.

If you don’t hear from me in the next few weeks…

Author: Anne Celano Frohna

I have been writing for as long as I could hold a pencil in hand and would not feel complete without it. And I actually made a meager living at it (and as an editor) for 25 years. I worked for newspapers and magazines, in graphic arts and advertising, and wrote several local history books. But I have also taught English in Japan, been a Nanny in Italy, worked in and for museums, and was an Airbnb Superhost for four years. After moving to Arizona with my family in 2010, I completed a series of different writing projects, including two books of creative non-fiction: Just West of the Midwest: a comedy (Based on journals I kept during my two years as an English teacher in rural Japan.) Within Close Range: short stories of an American Childhood (Short stories and poems about growing up as the middle of five children in suburban Chicago.) I've also written children's stories and continue to write short fiction, but have recently found my voice in poetry. And when I'm not moved to write, or research a large piece of fiction I'm formulating, I focus much of my energies on running my Etsy shop, ChannelingNonna (channelingnonnavintage.com), where I sell vintage clothing, folk art, books, and a trove of other items I have found and continue to bring home from thrift stores, barn sales, yard sales, estate sales, etc., whereever I roam. This blog, however, is where my greatest passion comes alive. Thus, this blog, where I post my creative non-fiction, short stories, a couple of illustrated children's stories and a comedy I wrote about two years I spent teaching English in rural Japan (NOT a story for a child.). I am also a mother of two wonderful girls, Eva (23) and Sophia (21) and wife to one wonderful husband, Kurt.

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