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House Spider

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Imperceptible to even the keenest ear, four pairs of swift, spindly legs scuttled over a vast white expanse. They carried a bulbous body across mountains of folders and valleys of empty table. It was gargantuan in the terror it engendered, yet miniscule in the mass it commanded. It had four times the eyes any creature ought to possess, and it used those heightened powers of perception to take in the unfathomably large obstacle that stood before it.

It decided that all terrain could be traversed.

The spider crawled up the bare arm resting on the desk, instantly rousing its owner from the depths of his work. Jon jumped up, paying no mind to the papers that fell and scattered haphazardly across the floor. A scream tore though the air as he swept the spider off himself. The threat no longer immediate, Jon allowed himself to sink back into his chair and attempt to subdue his heart rate. No longer feeling that awful ticking that announced eight legs crawling all over his body, Jon reached for the mug that had fortunately remained upright.

The fragrant steam of the tea helped ground Jon, and he assessed the situation. Based on what he saw before flinging the spider into what he hoped was oblivion, Jon was quite sure it was nothing more than a common house spider. A careful walk around the perimeter of the room, inspecting baseboards, molding, and corners, showed that there were no webs or—the absolute worst case scenario—egg sacs to take care of. Yet one thing still tugged at Jon’s unease, unwilling to let it subside. The spider itself had not been found. Jon had no idea where it was, much less if it was safely dead.

A second search of the room yielded no results, so Jon expanded his efforts to the living room. He furtively crept his way around, trying to avoid any sudden movements or loud noises that would send the arachnid back into his hiding place. That was the state in which Martin found Jon, having returned from his trip to the grocery store.

“Jon?” he called. “What are you doing?”

Jon straightened up from where he was crouching by a bookshelf.

“There was, ah, a spider,” he explained. “It got on me in the study, so I threw it off me, but now I don’t know where it is.”

Martin walked to the kitchen and started putting the groceries away.

“Well, of course you don’t know where it is,” he said, tone all too even. “It would’ve run away as soon as you flicked it off and slipped into some little crevice.”

Jon had followed Martin in and now stared at him with an utterly stricken expression.

“It could be anywhere, and I’d have no idea—”

“Jon, you know that’s the normal state of house spiders,” Martin said. “They’re harmless, anyway, and the next time one shows up, I’ll get rid of it for you, yeah?”

Jon let out a breath, let his shoulders relax. He didn’t feel embarrassed, no—everyone had their fears, and spiders were hardly an irrational or unusual one—but it was comforting to be reminded of how he didn’t need to deal with it alone.

“Thank you, Martin,” he said, pulling Martin in for a quick kiss. “Would you like help putting everything away?”

+++

That evening, Jon and Martin were seated side by side on the couch, a blanket draped across their laps. It was knitted and bore a charming strawberry pattern, the vibrant pink-red fruits standing proud on a cream background. It was exorbitantly expensive, yes, but Jon didn’t see any course of action other than buying it when he saw Martin’s sheer excitement in the store.

“Have you seen this documentary?” Martin asked. “it’s about researchers in the Arctic.”

Jon glanced at the title presently displayed on the TV, shook his head no.

“Looks interesting,” he said, and they started watching.

Some forty minutes peacefully passed in that manner, until something dark appeared on the bottom right corner of the screen. Jon first ignored it, assuming some piece of debris had gotten blown into the camera, but the…object looked far more solid than anything on a screen should. A sinking suspicion settled in Jon’s stomach, and it was confirmed when the dark spot crawled down onto the TV console, scaled its sides, then dashed across the floor—right next to the large cat laid across the rug.

“Get it!” Jon encouraged. “Come on, General Ginger, it’s right in front of you!”

The skittering spider, though it darted right before the General’s eyes and paws, was of no interest to the cat. Capricious creature that she was, the General stood up, turned a few circles, and settled back down—facing away from the spider this time.

Both Jon and Martin forced themselves off the comfort of the couch; the former to squeeze General Ginger’s pays and demand, “What kind of a cat are you?” and the latter to neatly dispatch the offending arachnid. Feeling secure now that the gruesome job was done, Jon scooped the General up, returned to the sofa, and deposited her on his lap. She settled down nicely, the cadence of her purring becoming soothing white noise. Martin again took his place beside Jon, and they resumed the documentary with no more pesky spiders invading their little family.