MAY 2008

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Spider
By Alicia Adams, Mar 18, 2008

Jeremy slammed a fist against the table between us and a spider died beneath it—morphed from a brown garden spider to an oozing crumpled spec—flat as the flowers my mom would press between the pages of her Bible or dictionary and then glue to greeting cards, invitations, resumes. I remembered the way she’d hang roses upside down from the ceiling fan to dry—how they looked like bats or possums hanging from trees, how they reminded me of Saint Peter crucified upside down, his head filling with blood, turning red, about to explode. I remembered the scowl on my dad’s face when he forgot the flowers and turned on the ceiling fan, rose petals speeding in circles around the room, and all of us just figures in a snow globe as the petals spun through the air and landed in our hair and at our feet.

Jeremy flicked the flattened spider off the table and rubbed his nails against his shirt. The guts or blood or gore blended in with the plaid flannel, hardly noticeable. I picked up my tea and drank the last of it, trying to decipher the tea leaves at the bottom and finding only a soggy Pangaea.

“You remind me of my father,” I said. “Killing spiders. My dad used to sleep with a can of Raid. He would wake up in the middle of the night and think bugs were crawling all over him.”

I twisted my tea cup in my hands. A firework. Twist. A palm tree. Twist. A dead spider.

Jeremy picked up his chopsticks and pushed the rice around his plate. “I thought your dad was an asshole,” he said. He was eating his rice one grain at a time. His chopsticks shook from the plate to his mouth, and half the time he dropped his rice and had to start over.

“He wasn’t an asshole,” I said. “He was just weird about things. He’d wake up yelling about ants or bees or cockroaches. He’d wake up the whole house. While my mom was telling my sister and me about how all creatures are God’s creatures, my father was smashing them beneath his palm, shouting ‘God damn fucking bugs!’”

I twisted my cup. A dandelion. A flower. A dead spider.

“Sounds like a nut,” Jeremy said. He picked up a square of beef with his chopsticks and dropped it.

“He wasn’t a nut,” I said, “He was just weird about things.”

“A fucking nut,” he said. “Who sleeps with Raid? The fumes probably got to his brain.”

A rose. A ceiling fan. A dead spider.

“He wasn’t brain damaged. And he wasn’t crazy. He was just weird about things.”

A rose. A dead spider. A dead spider.

“Well, why are you comparing me to him anyway?” Jeremy said. He squished an ant beneath his thumb and brushed it off the table.

“Because I don’t like you killing bugs all the time, you asshole,” I said.

Alicia Adams is a student at CSU Long Beach. This is her first publication.

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