Monday, January 17, 2011

there's a spider on your arm...

I was sitting very still, listening. The row of folks behind me were rustling around and I was sure they could tell I hadn't brushed my hair. It was almost as if I was listening so hard the words were lining up in little rows, filing into my ears. I could picture them, each one in large font, floating off the lips of the speaker, up into the air, swirling a little before they made their way into my eager ear... the left one. A few would escape out the other side, my right ear squeezing them out like puffs of smoke from an overworked machine.

That's what I was thinking about when the fuzz started. Small at first, it built in my left ear canal- the words were wiggling! Squirming, rolling around in there! I hope they aren't escaping, I thought. Then came the scream. Loud, in that way girls scream in horror movies. Not the girls in horror movies. The girls watching horror movies. In the theater, clutching boyfriends arms real tight. That kind of scream. Right behind me. I was about to turn around when I felt it- a long touch on my left cheek, light, but noticeable. Than another one. I reached my hand up to the side of my head and felt it- rough and hairy, like small tree branches from a willow tree. It was stretching out of my ear, long legs first followed by it's body. My hand counted six outstretched, spiny legs. The other two hadn't quite made it out yet, but I knew they would and she'd be fully visible to everyone.

The girl behind me wouldn't stop screaming and had been joined by most of the row by now. I had been consumed, minding my own affairs and trying to be inconspicuous as possible, but when a large arachnid climbs out of your ear, other people panic. Well, depending on the company, of course.

I was no longer invisible and there was sure to be a scene. A large uncomfortable scene, one I hadn't expected and one I hadn't scripted, much less prepared for. I don't know why I hadn't. This had been happening for many months now, just never in church before. Before now. Right now. I can't panic...just act normal. I reached up with both hands and cupped the aggravated arachnid in my hands and put her into my lap. She curled up like a kitten and let me stroke her shaking body. I had a thought to kiss her, but it passed as quickly as it came.

The speaker had stopped and the congregation was bustling. The screaming girl had fainted and the row had taken to consoling her. Before the mad scramble began, I gathered up my coat and scarf, wrapping the latter around the spider who now seemed so harmless and small. We walked. Past the staring eyes and hand cupped whispers, small words forming opinions that floated up into the air,like dust and dainty balloons and stars. I waved them away with my hand, not wanting either of us to hear them. Behind us, they hung there in the air momentarily before they found other eager ears to fill and I knew I would not come back there again. Too many words to battle without a proper sword. I thought of Joan of Arc and Heresy...

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