* * *
“Karena, you gotta kill this spider,” Keri’s voice had dropped into a tenor pitch.
My head popped up from my scrapbooking, like a Jack-in-the-Box.
I glanced in her direction. She was standing halfway in the family room with arms spread out in mid tip-toe, frozen as if she had stepped on a land mine.
I hate spiders. What if it was one of those jumping ones with the white-striped backs? Luckily, I had a big-sister edge.
“Oh, just kill it,” I said with as much exasperation I could muster.
Keri looked at me with owl eyes, then glanced back and forth between me and the floor. “You don’t understand. This thing is huge.”
I poured a thicker dose of big-sistery, hoping she would cave and kill it for me. “Don’t be such a baby.”
Her color turned sick pale. I had no idea there were any shades lighter than Keri.
“You don’t understand.” She waved me over with one arm, her voice intensifying. “This. Thing. Is. HUGE!”
Now she was just being dramatic. Yeah, yeah…kettle, pot, black, anyways. I had pulled the ‘big sisters can do anything – don’t you wanna be like me’ card. Paint. Corner. Defeat.
I hesitated, in a last ditch effort to avoid the creepy-crawly. Keri didn’t budge.
Rolling my eyes, I made my way to her. “So where is this…“
But I stopped. Two feet from my naked toes was a massive wolf spider. And when I say massive, you cannot comprehend the magnitude. Let me just say that not all wolf spiders are created equal. I wasn’t wholly convinced it wasn’t a tarantula. Brown, hairy, and bigger than my palm — and I have big palms. I’ve always hated them, got them from my mom.
Then it hit me. Mom!
Ditching my big sister swagger, I run to her bedroom with Keri trailing behind.
We shook her awake, ‘momming’ her in unison. “Mom. Mom.” Shake. Shake.
“Wh-a-at?” She moaned, her eyes creased shut.
Keri’s mouth clamped down, leaving it all on me. Traitor. Maybe I should’ve gone to bed and made her deal with the arachnid alone.
I plow ahead, “There’s a huge spider in the family room.”
Mom’s head sinks deeper into her pillow with an exhale. “Kill it.”
“You. Don’t. Understand.” I didn’t care about dramatics at that point or how I used Keri’s exact words, the gravity needed to be conveyed. “This. Thing. Is. HUGE!” I cup my hands as if holding a softball.
Mom slumped out of bed without a word. She walked, determined to the kitchen and snatched the fly swatter, holding it like a standard before an army. She looked like Rambo, ready to kill the thing that dared to wake her. Technically, that was me. I only hoped she’d take out her frustrations on Godzilla spider instead.
We reached the spot, and mom froze. Her eyes owled just like Keri’s. The thing was still there, minding its own business like that was how he spent his time at one in the morning, as though we were the intruders.
Keri and I looked to mom and her weapon.
“Wow,” mom said with a hint of ‘you weren’t kidding’.
“I know,” I nodded. No one was going to believe us. A spider like that, needed to be seen.
We positioned ourselves around the beast, leaving mom plenty of room for whacking. She did a few nervous windups. I didn’t blame her. How do you kill something that’s as round as the fly swatter itself?
Finally, she reached back and came down in full furry, knowing she only had one chance. Wolf spiders are quick. If she missed, it would scatter faster than a cockroach into the recesses of the house to skulk behind my bedroom walls for eternity.
Air passed through the swatter’s plastic as it charged down, whistling as it cut the space. I could see the trajectory, flawless. She would hit the creature dead center. Emphasis on dead.
Closer. Closer. I held my breath, worried. Mom was fast, but what if the spider’s reflexes were faster? Don’t they have that ‘Spidey’ sense?
But the plastic hit hard, right on target. A loud thwack echoed as the swatter connected too hard against spider and carpet. Mom hadn’t anticipated the recoil. None of us had. When the force of the hit ricocheted back, the swatter and the spider bounced up. Three feet of airborne bug.
We jumped backwards, squealing in equal pitch at the flying monster.
The spider thudded back to the floor, his legs curling inward until he was no bigger than a quarter. The evidence of his greatness, gone forever. His burial ceremony consisted of flicking him out the back door by three females in full-body shivers.
* * *
Gavin’s brow creases. “What?”
“It’s true,” I say in my most defensive voice.
“Okay,” He offers a doubting smile — which happens to be so adorable on him.
I can’t blame him. Nobody believes our story. It’s been months since the spider incident. In that time, I met and got this great guy to propose to me — and not a single mega spider to speak of. But that doesn’t change the fact that it happened. I don’t need him to believe me. I may be dramatic, like telling stories, and even stretch the truth, but he loves me for it anyway.
We sit on the cold, concrete porch, talking about wedding plans. Then Gavin’s eyes saucer, looking past me to the brick facade along the house.
“Karena,” he nods to the wall.
I turn, finding a large wolf spider, spread out like a child’s painted handprint. Not massive, but definitely big.
Trying to hide the cringe of a too-close spider, I face my fiancee and wink.
“No one is going to believe you.”