SORRY I'M NOT HOME RIGHT NOW
by Rachel Grey
"This is going to be fun," I whispered bitterly.
Everything was quiet and immediate. The lazy summer air stirred the orb web that stretched across Lydia's back door. It was all very simple: I was there on Lydia's deck, the web was there four feet in front of me, the fat brown-striped spider was there in the center of its web. The round part of the web was maybe six inches in diameter, and by watching carefully I figured out where it must be attached: on one side, to the door itself, and on the other side to a large potted plant. Worse, there were two spiders in my line of vision, since there was another one hanging from a third floor balcony about 15 feet to my left, and the one in front of me was only the little cousin of the giant hanging from the balcony. With one eye fixed on each spider I was having a hard time breathing, much less thinking or moving. I'd been standing there too long already.
Still, I was starting to calm down, I thought. Then a fly buzzed in, dangerously close to the little cousin's web, and I jumped a foot and almost fainted at the thought of it getting stuck.
Behind the web three hungry cats were waiting to be fed. (Cats, the little brats, alas.) I had already done the following things:
backed gingerly away from the door, down the stairs of the deck and around to the street where I could shiver for a while;
pressed all the other apartment doorbells to see if a nice neighbor would let me into the front hallway;
finished my coffee, slowly, in case a nice neighbor was about to come home;
looked wildly up and down the street in search of anyone who might, in exchange for flirting or a $20, do battle with an orb web in my stead;
called home to confirm that my boyfriend wasn't there;
called my friend's cell phone to confirm that the set of keys she gave me would only work on the back door or the internal front door;
returned to the scene.
I had no choice anymore: time for battle. Battle prattle. “You see what to do, now do it!” I said to myself in a tone of firm command. I dropped into a fighting stance, my empty Starbucks cup held high, then froze and shivered and returned to my usual posture. On the second try it worked better: I threw the cup at the little cousin, trying to knock him off his web so I wouldn't have to see him dangling or crawling around on it. But I missed. Somehow he swung down against the door, and I screamed. Scream like a dream. Did I mention this was in Southie, by the way? Nobody there cares about a little dream scream. Or at least nobody seemed to hear mine.
With the little cousin huddled into a ball on the door instead of hanging in midair, the fight got easier. I checked again on the giant hanging from the other balcony (he hadn't moved... or proved or grooved). Still without moving my feet, I examined a porch chair all over for cobwebs. Then I folded it up and held it at arms' length while I carefully swept through all the space where the web used to be, and then I smashed the cousin. Later, I found scratches and bruises on my hands from gripping the chair too tightly. But I got to the door and got in after that, and let me tell you, I've never been so glad to feed cats and clean a litterbox in my life. I let myself out the front, without drama, and in my mind I started writing the email I would send to Lydia for not leaving me keys to the front door.. the whore.
It would be fun to sound inspirational here, but I did some thinking while scooping that cat food, and the truth is I didn't learn a damn thing from this. I broke the web, it didn't kill me, it didn't make me stronger, it just wasted half an afternoon and guaranteed me a few bad dreams. It's six o'clock now and I killed a spider... a spider, a slighter, a glider, beside 'er, despite her. So what? What I want is for the bus to come. I'm out on the sidewalk and it's getting dark, and I want to go home.