Love Is A Many-Legged Thing
Possibly about 15:26pm on a Thursday, waiting on a train platform while the summer breeze gathers itself into something stronger. I’m sitting on a blue, metal (uncomfortable) bench in between two middle-aged women; they both seem to radiate a motherly freedom.
I’m concentrating on the last sentence of a paragraph, but I see a fractional movement out of the corner of my eye, and turn my head slightly towards her elbow to see a small, pale brown and freckled spider moving through space and time, landing on her t-shirt; though it moves swiftly there are sections of crochet within the garment, and seemingly this proves to be challenging terrain for its many legs. I wonder whether or not I should tell the her about the spider, because she looks like the kind of woman who might appreciate being informed about having an invertebrate on her person, but she is gazing so intently into nothingness that I fear interrupting a profound thought or two.
Realising that if she is going to be interrupted it might be better coming from me rather than the arachnid.
“Excuse me, but you’ve got a tiny spider on your arm.”
A sound exits her mouth but I cannot name it as a shriek nor a gasp, then several inaudible exclamations later she tries to flick it off using a thumb and forefinger; the spider had anticipated such a move and was already lowering itself down a new invisible thread to her white denim jeans with bewitching speed and accuracy. I now realise that she is dressed in head-to-toe white, and note that this is perhaps an exceptionally practical choice given the heatwave. Not seeing where it landed, she appears increasingly frantic and begins to swat randomly.
Being too exhausted to continue this indefinitely, I put my book down and try to sound encouraging with something like “Oh! Look! It’s now on your leg.” which is followed by a frantic scanning of the limb while telling me for the fourth time that she really doesn’t like spiders. The three of us carry on with this dance until she combines a flick in its direction with a strange wave of movement that seems to traverse her entire body, and the spider either cannot spin silk this fast, or it is simply left speechless by this unorthodox technique and concludes it best to leave.
It takes itself purposefully along the platform, becoming lost on the weathered stones and the yellow-brown lichen.
“I really don’t like spiders.”
She repeats this like a motto as we partake in the odd, communal laugh that follows such an unremarkable pantomime; it may mean nothing to her, or it may mean everything. Our train announcement is loud, and I stand up and walk over to the yellow line that you’re not supposed to cross; waiting for my body to align with Coach A, which is where my seat will be.