{ The Moth & The Spider }

**** Above you'll find the audio version of this : ) 

  I was reading it to juwels, and just punched the recorder ..


I found a moth and a spider stuck in the bathroom sink a while back. Not sure what was keeping the moth there since she had wings – maybe her wings were wet, maybe she was old and tired?  But I found the whole thing odd. This predator and prey, both stuck in the same situation, victim to gravity and tough footing, not enemies anymore, but strange comrades.  

Anyway, must have been warming up my hands for the morning, so I wrote this.  


"You know.." the spider said to the moth, "if you just hopped on my back for a few seconds, I could scramble us both a little closer to the rim, and then you could flap us the rest of the way right out of here.

The moth had been hiding on the other side of the bathroom sink, trying to catch her breath. She stopped breathing at the shear thought that he'd spoken to her, this great fanged creature who just moments ago had tried to kill her.

They’d both fallen into the sink when he'd ambushed her from behind the electric toothbrush earlier that same morning.

"What do you say?" the spider asked, noticeably tired after dashing for the rim more times than he could count. 

She didn't say anything but finally caught her breath from where ever it'd gone. She’d been in a panic and it was all she could do to stand on her own legs. But now she could see that he was tired; she could see the glow around him change from red to blue to green-yellow.

The spider, and impatient fellow, got tired of looking across the drain at her googly eyes and coiled tongue, and started walking slowly clockwise away from the faucet in her direction.

He tried to speak softly this time, explaining how they'd both benefit from the exchange, but he knew by his second word that he sounded cocky and taunting, so he paused to reconsider.

If he spooked her now, with the fright in her blood, she just might get enough juice to clear the rim and leave him stuck and hungry, not even having the chance to drink her tired body to a shell. And this nutrient boost could maybe give him the juice to get up and out himself. But he was too tired to catch her, so he tried to talk instead.    

So with all of this in mind, he walked back to where he'd been before, at the farthest possible spot on the sink, directly across. That's how she kept it - with every move he made, so did she. "I'm too tired to catch you and anyway, and if I ate you, I'd be stuck in here forever. Do you think I want that?" he said. "The only way I get out of here is with you, and you with me."

She started to speak softly in a voice he could hardly hear (spiders aren't known for their hearing) and was interrupted mid sentence by a drip of the faucet which fell like a wrecking ball.

"I'd never trust a spider," she said, "you're the reason that I'm in here now, because you're vicious, and you have no respect for the life of another, it's just who you are."

He started speaking over her, politely. His voice was quiet now, like a soft piano coming in behind a sad monologue. Devils advocate of sorts, spoken by the devil himself. "Moth," he said, "You've never really been in a situation where you might have to trust a spider. The only thing that you need to trust and believe is that I want to live, too."

She uncurled her long tongue and spiraled it around her bulbous eye. She always did this when she was nervous.  

   There was a lot of talking, the moth growing more bold and the spider sinking more lowly into his funk, which would soon turn to a last burst of frustration, and he knew if he got to this point, he'd surly pounce the moth, making a liar out of himself and most likely boosting his life force only to watch it fade again, endure it and fear it, shutting down.

   They came to an agreement only after he'd tried again to walk to her, and she gave him such chase that he said, "Don't do that to me again. If I lose anymore energy, I won't be able to make good on my part with these eight legs. I only have enough for one go, and I can't make any promises at that."

She came to him this time, and as she started to climb on his back, he shuttered a little, and this spooked her.

He felt her squeeze harder, and he called out, "Ahhhh .. gentile!! That really tickles!" He started to laugh, and couldn't stop. This felt wonderful, but scared him too, because he felt out of control, and he'd never really felt a tickle before. He only knew the word because he'd caught and killed a fly once as his wife lie laughing hysterically and screaming, "That tickles!!!"

He was surprised to have remembered the word when he heard it pass by his wiry mustache. "Tickles??"

He normally went blank while killing, eating, because he really didn't enjoy it to be honest. He was a curious fellow, and most times had sadly killed the actor of the play he'd just been watching. He'd try to hold back and wait as long as possible, soaking in every word that these social creatures would say, the little things they'd do. (spiders don't have friends, only competition and prey. It's lonely, but he'd always snap when the hunger came on. It wasn't him really, just the voice that kept yelling, "It's us or them! Do you want to be a suicide?? Do you?" And the spider in him came out.  

The moth stopped what she was doing with her little barbed slippers, knowing well what tickles were. Her wings kind of tickled her flanks as they'd dry out from the dewy morning and the fuzz would rise in thousands of tickely pricklers (that's what she would call them).

He caught his breath, and said, "nobody's ever tickled me before," almost to himself.

"What?" the moth said, "never?"

He furrowed his brows.

"Not even your mom?" 

"I don't really remember meeting her," he said, "there were so many of us.."

"Nobody really touches me, hell, until ... you know." He chattered his feet on the cast iron sink, and the moth thought it sounded like a little tune, an ominous one at that, like something from an old western showdown. "Plus," he went on, "The venom gets them pretty quickly, they never really feel a thing. It's actually much faster and painless than the death of a spider, that slow and painful rotting of the body and mind. Nobody takes us out with a mercy spike. Death comes slow and lingers." 

She noticed a few scratches on his spongy back, probably put there by his victims as they tried to avoid the fangs. "Wait !" the moth said before he could continue, "How do I know you're not just going to kill me when we get out?"

"I won't," he said, almost offended. "Just trust me. I can't make you believe, but what other choice do you have?" He no doubt was offended, transitioning from one of the closest and most pure encounters he'd ever had, directly to being called a murderer again. He had no choice, it was his cross to bear, but he felt able to be something else the rest of the time. He loved life in his own kind of way, not so much his own life but observing the lives of others, even if it was through these hard black eyes.

She dug into his flanks again as he spoke so animatedly, but this time he didn't laugh, he was somewhere else. "Okay, let's just do it before I change my mind," she said.

He did that little tap dance again, and she shuttered. He stepped a few paces back, closer to the drain to get running speed. She looked up through the top of her eye and saw a giant bead of water hanging just above them. "We're not going to make it," he said, "I can't get high enough, and you're not strong enough to make up the difference. Unless.... " 

"What?" she asked. 

"If I give you just a little bit of venom ..." 

"Give me?" 

"Yes, just a tap. It will spike your adrenalin, and you'll pull us right out of here."

"You want to bite me??" 

"No, well ... yes, kind of, but just a little bit .. a little bite."  

She was not interested, and tried to climb off, but he reached around with his two middle legs on each side, and held her there.

She screamed, but there was no point. She dug her barbed slippers into him, but he didn't notice. "Here's the new options, okay, and I can't keep toying with you on this .. I'm tired. You're going to make us both dead, okay? Just listen, and then make your call. What I do next happens regardless. We're either going to run for the rim, I stick you, at the last moment, and you blast us out of here, or I'm just going to eat you right here and now." (the second part was a bluff, he was a thinker, and would have moved onto some other kind of negotiation .. no doubt harder now with her heart racing so quickly.) 

She was really scared. He could feel her heat on his back, and he thought that he might not even need to stick her with this new energy that she had. And he wondered if he might just be able to pretend to get her mid scramble, tap her with his foot not fang. After all, it was a tricky cocktail that he was serving .. only once before, when he was just learning to hunt, did he stick a beetle with less than enough juice. This sent the beetle into a chemical frenzy that almost cost him two of his legs.

He did his tap dance. She grabbed on tight, and as he made the halfway part of the bowl, near vertical now, she started flapping with strong strides that left him feeling weightless. He forgot about the pretend bite, and before he knew it, they were both hovering above the rim.

He called out in victory, and just then, she let go. 

Gravity had him now, and although he swung all his legs and even cast a ribbon of silk, he fell in silence to the bottom of the bowl. It didn't hurt him, physically. He caught the slope of the bowl with his fuzzy back, and just watched her beautiful grey-white wings flap away as he slid farther down and almost dropped into the drain. 

His reflexes popped him immediately back onto his feet, and in anger, he dashed up the bowl, catching the rim with just one leg.

As he hung there for a second, he could see that the moth was still there, crying. His grip slipped, and down he went. He was confused over why she hadn't left, and what on earth she could've been crying about. She was out. She was safe. 

He saw her antennas come over the ridge first, and as she looked in, a tiny tear, which caught the full metallic spectrum of color, fell in and streaked a glossy line along the path they'd just covered on the cast iron.

"I'm sorry," she said, "It wasn't me. It's the fear that got me. I didn't even feel myself let go." 

He considered this for a moment, "Well, then just fly back in. We'll do it again, and you won't let go." 

"I can't. I'm too tired now .. I can hardly move." She couldn't look at him in there, looking so sad and scared, confused and hopeful, and she took a slow step back. 

"Wait !!" he called out. "I never stuck you..." 

She figured he meant to say that if they tried again, with the venom, that they could make it, together, but she said, "Even if you did it this time, I could do make it. I just don't have it in me. I'm not a fighter like you .. I barely have enough flight left in me to leave this house." 

"I believe you," he said, "I just wanted you to know that I never stuck you." 

She flew away just as a man with long wild hair passed her in the doorway, and as she turned the corner, still crying, she heard grumbling and the hiss of the faucet. 

The end. 

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