As the door swung open on ancient hinges, I heard my Great’s words in my ears.
“Watch out for SPIDERS!,” she hollered after me as I had carefully picked my way through the North Carolina weedy grass.
In the darkness of the structure, the dankness reeked of cave. Raw wood and old nails stuck in from outside leaving a trail where the rust had trickled down in years of rain like mascara. The door was heavy, solid pine made sturdier than necessary, I mean, what were the builders trying to protect? Glancing quickly around into the corners and blinking from the change from the bright light outside, I found the item I was sent to retrieve, and ran like crazy back to the safety of the tiny house which folded around me like familial arms. I ran like the wind, ignoring the burrs that bite the feet in southern landscapes. I ran like I was chased by Shelob the giant spider in Lord of the Rings, which I half expected to reach out from the depths as the door had opened.
SLAM. The wooden exiguous panel banged behind me as if to say, “STAY OUT!” As I turned back to look, I noticed the way it tilted slightly to the side, as if it were sad in that octogenarian sort of way. Sad that many years of honest dedication to others was never acknowledged. Sad that no one ever said, “Thank you,” but regarded its years of faithful duty as little more than a harbinger for poisonous insects.
“Thanks,” I mouthed as I continue to run to the bosom of the little white house.
Well, not really. I never actually THANKED the outhouse, sheesh! It was just an out house! Crammed full of an old lady’s junk and ready to be steam rolled the following spring.
That was not my only run in with spiders real or imaginary. There was the time at my Auntie’s house when we were playing in the adorable wooden playhouse. Just as my cousin spoke, we both looked at each other.
“ITS A BLACK WIDOW!” I yelled. Crawling up the front of my shirt was the biggest black beast I ever saw and I swear I could see red underbelly markings from my vantage point!
I understand that black widows have a pitiful plight. Armed with some of the most potent neurotoxin around, alas, it comes in packages so small that it does not do much more than make a person sick, unless the victim is allergic. But in those days, children were warned to stay away from black widows. We did not know what they DID that scared the adults so badly, but it must be awful!
A stream of children ran to the house screaming at the top of our lungs. I had my clothes off before I even reached the door. My aunt was annoyed by all the screaming kids. It was just a little spider. Probably not even poisonous! We searched through and through, but never found the offending monster that dared to invade the perimeter of a six year old girl’s front side. It most likely hopped off at the first scream… if it ever really existed in the first place.