BY CONNIE COOK
Copyright is held by the author.
SANDY’S CELL PHONE rang again and she grabbed it from the seat beside her, sighing heavily. More problems with her ex-husband, she knew; there seemed no end to his taunts and demands. She leaned back against the sofa under the gazebo and took the call.
“I’ll have my day in court,” Ray warned. “You can’t ignore me, Sandy. I have nothing; you have the house and savings and I’m stuck here in this dinky apartment with no money. You’re a real nut job. Have you looked at the letter I emailed you?”
Sandy flung the phone down, letting it slip between the sofa cushions into oblivion. Her stomach reeled and her hands shook. I can’t deal with this anymore, she thought. She felt as though she had nothing. Kyle, her son was working in another province and she sensed that her friends were tired of trying to pull her out of this funk she was in. She curled up on the sofa and traced the pattern on the cushions with her fingers, around and around the leaves and flowers in the design, going nowhere, like her.
The spider sat on the gazebo flap and waited. There had been no breeze but her patience was rewarded finally, with a south wind, soft and soothing, that lifted the gazebo flap ever so gently. She sent a thread of silk across the open space of the gazebo entrance and it caught on the metal ring on the other side. Cautiously she crept over the thread and released another below the first one, which began to swing softly in the breeze. She oscillated to the middle and hung below her fledgling web, resting briefly.
In the gazebo, Sandy stirred and felt a headache coming on, one of those hammer-like pains that made her sick to her stomach. She headed inside to the bathroom for her pills. The heat in the house was hot and still; she had forgotten to close all the windows earlier this morning. Dust motes swirled playfully around the furniture and flies buzzed in the windows, unchecked. I can’t keep this house up, she thought, touching the cracked bannister upstairs, the dusty dresser in the hallway, the dingy shower curtain decorated with palm trees and the sea beyond. Her foot caught the bath mat by the tub covering a large crack in the tile floor. It’s too much and it isn’t going to get any better. A tear rolled down her face and settled on her T-shirt.
She opened the medicine cabinet and surveyed the inventory: migraine pills, sleep aids, tranquilizers and anti-depressants. She had needed a complete arsenal to survive marriage to Ray. When he was travelling for business, she had signed up for Karate, feeling anxious and an impending dread every time he went away. What if someone broke into the house, murdered her in her bed?
“That’s silly,” Ray had said about her fears. “You’re perfectly safe here. Get a dog if you want more protection. Lots of women are on their own and don’t give it a minute’s thought.”
Well, she didn’t get the dog and she didn’t finish the Karate classes. Instead, she went to see her doctor for a prescription. Ray had made the whole thing seem pathologically unsound, and suggested she see a shrink. Perhaps Ray was right-maybe she had been unbalanced for some time.
Her doctor had prescribed the Lorazepam when she and Ray split up, but she had stopped taking it fearing a dependency on the drug. Now, she picked it up and read the warning on the label. “Too much could cause serious damage or even death.” Death — the end of all the loneliness and uncertainty, of having to deal with Ray. Who would miss her anyway? Her friends rarely called anymore. Ray would move back into the home and Kyle would be busy with his friends, hardly realizing she was gone. Her hand shook as she took up the bottle. Well, if she was going to do this, she could at least have a glass of wine with it to wash all the pills down. Maybe two.
Outside, she popped a mouthful of pills and chased it with a gulp of wine, then another, and another. She swung sideways to lay down and her eyes caught the movement of the spider patiently minding her web. In Greek mythology, Sandy had read, Arachne, the weaver, ended her own life when she failed to appease the gods, and was then reincarnated as a spider. They had something in common, she and the spider. It was possible she would come back to earth as a spindly creature, all legs and bug eyes, condemned to work just to eat and survive.
The breeze had picked up, gently pulling at the flaps of the gazebo. When she had swallowed all the pills and finished the wine, she lay down on the sofa and thought, I should leave a note or something, so they know why I did it. Nearby, she picked up the sounds of the neighbours having a pool party — laughing, splashing, glasses clinking in merriment. Don’t they know that I’m going to die, she thought? Where will they bury me? I haven’t left any arrangements in my will. The thought of being laid to rest in a hard, wooden crate in a dark hole in the ground made her flinch. She felt a sudden panic, then it faded as the warmth of the wine and the smooth effects of the Lorazepam on her psyche vanished. Voices slowly faded, and an inner peace settled over her.
The spider watched from her post on a gossamer thread, twirling softly in midair. Her claw hooks relaxed for a minute as she surveyed her handiwork, and beyond that, the woman lying quietly on the sofa. Then she took up the silken ends again and pulled them through her spinnerets to complete the next stage of her web. She slung herself downward to the bottom of her cocoon and waited. A gust of wind picked up the tent flaps and she shot a radius thread from the gazebo flap to the sofa where the woman laid motionless, her hand extended toward the glass of wine on the coffee table. The spider began again, knitting the gauze-like threads back and forth into a soft and cozy cocoon.