She Said, He Said

Drawing of a spider in a web. Caption reads: "I called it Webmaster".

She Said, He Said short story by Iris Carden

Her story:

Today I saw a side of Bill I never expected to see.

I saw him afraid, but I also saw him deal with fear by lashing out.

To explain what happened, I need to go back a couple of weeks.

I was loading the washing machine one day, when I saw a spider building a web in the corner of the ceiling. I didn’t bother the spider and the spider didn’t bother me. I named it “Webmaster” and thanked it for keeping my home clear of insect pests.

Webmaster and I went on, each respecting the other’s personal space, and all was well.

Move forward to today. I had a couple of friends over for dinner. Bill was here of course. We’ve been dating for a couple of months, after all. He came early to help me prepare.

I asked Bill to go out to the laundry to grab a couple of bottles of wine from the second fridge. That was a mistake.

I couldn’t believe it when I heard the scream. Yeah, a grown man screamed because he saw Webmaster. He’s an arachnophobe, but he’d never mentioned it. When I ran to the laundry he was throwing things at Webmaster.

“Hey, leave my spider alone,” I said. “He’s not hurting anyone.”

He yelled. “Get some Baygon or something! Kill it!”

“No,” I said, “Webmaster’s not doing any harm. Spiders are useful. He’s keeping pests away.”

“He is a pest. Get me something to climb on. I’ll kill it.”

Eventually we compromised. I would capture Webmaster and take him outside. I found a jar, and a small piece of cardboard. I climbed up on a kitchen char, put the jar over Webmaster, and gently worked the cardboard under it, until Webmaster was on the cardboard, trapped in the jar.

I took him outside, and put him in the bush beside the front of the house, it was the most sheltered place available.

The other guests arrived, and I thought that would be that, but Bill kept talking about how stupid I was not killing a spider, and how if he saw it outside, he was going to stomp on it. My friends all just let him talk, but kept giving me sympathetic looks. It was the first time they’d met Bill, and they were less than impressed. I honestly was less than impressed with him by that time too.

As everyone left, he pulled a small branch from the tree in the front yard, and actually hit the bushes with it, trying to find Webmaster. Thankfully, I didn’t see any sign of the spider. When I cleaned up, the leftovers didn’t all fit in the main fridge, so I went to the laundry to put some in that fridge. There was Webmaster in his old spot.

He must have gone under the garage door and straight through to the laundry.

I welcomed him home, glad to see him where he belonged. I honestly don’t think I want to see Bill again. Yes, I’m choosing a spider over a boyfriend. The spider’s never called me stupid.

His story:

It’s not always easy to find a really good spot to build a web. I have to try to get out of the weather, but be somewhere insects are likely to come by.

I found the perfect spot. It was sheltered, but there were gaps that insects would come in. I had enough to eat and I was comfortable.

There was a human I would see frequently. It sometimes made noises at me, but it didn’t seem aggressive at all. Most of the time the human and I left each other alone. I named it “Non-threatening Human.”

As I said, Non-threatening Human would visit most days, but apart from making fairly mild noises at me, left me alone. I left it alone, because, well, a human is far too big for me to eat anyway. I guess we had an understanding.

Then another human arrived. It made loud, aggressive-sounding, noises. It attacked me with flying objects I could not identify. I had no way to communicate that I had an agreement with the regular human. It was loud, aggressive and frightening. I named it “Dangerous Human.”

Non-Threatening Human arrived and made noises at Dangerous Human. Dangerous Human made more loud noises. Non-threatening Human, made more quiet noises.

The next thing I knew, Non-threatening Human came right up close to me. It put something over me, something I couldn’t really see, but could see through. It was a kind of invisible barrier that wrapped around me. Then something was pushed under the barrier. It gently nudged until I stepped on to it.

Non-threatening Human carried the invisible barrier away from Dangerous Human. Something told me Non-threatening Human was trying to protect me from further things being thrown at me.

Non-threatening Human lifted the invisible barrier from me, and left me among some leaves on a plant.

Then both humans left me.

I sat, terrified from the entire ordeal for a while, then I thought I needed to find a new place to start building a house again. I climbed around a bit, and found my way back into the well-sheltered area. I went a little further and discovered I was back near my web.

I climbed back and settled in.

A while later Non-threatening Human appeared again. It made the old non-aggressive noises.

There was no sign of Dangerous Human. I hope it’s not coming back.

By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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