Kate steps out of the shower onto the bath mat and reaches for her towel. She dries her face and as she bends to dry her legs, sees a movement on the bathroom floor. A large huntsman spider is lurching towards her from beneath the bath; the red brown legs and body covered in dust and blue fluff. She freezes.
The spider is coming to get me on the bathmat. She keeps her voice level as she directs the sentence towards the closed toilet door.
The Spider! The Spider! She hisses with emphasis.
Well go and get a container to put over it.
I can’t I haven’t got anything on.
Well wrap your towel around you.
The reply is muffled but amused. Kate looks at the spider covered in blue fluff then at the blue towel in her hand. Has the spider been on her towel?
For God’s sake!
It is an impasse.
Kate is having to give ground on the bathmat. In fact she is going to have to quit it altogether. She looks at the shiny tiles, her slippery wet feet. Ahh so this is how it goes – the naked woman slips on the bathroom floor and cracks her head. A verdict of accidental death and the spider disappears under the bathtub unsuspected.
Three days ago she dreamt of the spider. The Spider. She told Amy that she dreamed it was hauling itself across the carpet in her bedroom towards the bed. It only had three legs by then but each time she tried to kill it with a shoe it would sink into the blue plush and evade her.
Amy nods. This does not surprise her.
Ten days ago they had first seen a spider, The Spider, on the wall just inside the front door. It was late and they were farewelling dinner guests. It was enormous, with its 8 legs positioned so precisely that it looked like the face of a wall clock in a house on a planet at some closer position to the sun. Suddenly aware of scrutiny it quickly manoeuvered itself behind one of Kate’s larger, heavier pictures. You have to get rid of it Dad. Amy was matter of fact.
I can’t. Not tonight.
This was not the time to be shifting heavy paintings with two women leaping and shrieking at possibility. David is firm.
I will get it in the morning.
By the morning it will have made it into my room, it will be on my bed. Amy is not hysterical but intoning like a prophet. Kate tells her not to panic.
It won’t. She says. It will come into mine.
Amy looks at her mother and nods.
In the morning the spider has gone. David says it has made it’s way back outside but the women know better. They exchange a glance and scan the high ceiling. It is a big room and there are about 1000 places where a spider, The Spider, could be hiding, watching, waiting until they are at their most vulnerable.
Kate makes it to the blue carpeted floor of her bedroom without incident and grabs her dressing gown before heading to the kitchen for a clear Tupperware container. This is important. David would take an icecream container but Kate knows she needs to be able to see her enemy at all times. She runs back to the bathroom.
The spider no longer looks like a smoothly rotating clock face, more the complicated jerky movement of the clocks workings. An out of control clockwork spider menacing and unstoppable, limbs detaching and each one separately dragging itself forward. Quickly, before she can hesitate, she drops the plastic box onto the bathmat, enclosing the spider and the blue fluff.
Now that its progress has been forestalled she looks at it more closely. The blue fluff makes it look ridiculous. She tells it so. What were you thinking, that it would camouflage you? The spider is perplexed by the plastic and wanders clockwise in a round cornered square. David is now at the basin shaving.
It is not the same one. The other one was bigger.
It is the same one, says Kate, I should know.
She is not sure why she should know but she does. The spider does seem diminished though and distressed by the fluff. Now she can see that the fluff is from the carpet, not the towel and is mingled with hair and dust and all manner of minute things to be found under the bath. Defeated by bad housekeeping she thinks.
David fetches a piece of cardboard and slides it under the container, then carries The Spider, out into the garden. Kate picks up her towel from where she dropped it, shakes it briskly and hangs it back on the rail; but then hesitates, pulls it back off and drops it into the wash basket on her way out of the room.