Late night early morning she teetered on tiptoes and legs crossed with black lace. Common girl. Brown and black and white in nature. She wobbled, wove. The night had so much venom in it. Too many partners. Too much clubbing. Dancing, dancing until her legs thrummed. Why must mating require the salsa, the waltz, and the light fandango? She yawned and scratched her stomach as she worked. The skull printed on her black t-shirt rose and fell, grimaced and grinned. She couldn’t rest. Love’s seed needed the dark, the warm, close air. By morning, she had a funnel of blue silk. Irregular, but it would hold. She spread a lens-shaped sac inside. Her first brood. She sat down and waited. They arrived all at once, in a burst of light and pain, tiny exoskeletons, clear as raindrops. Did she see a heart beat in each one? Or one heart beat in all? She shook her head, groggy, teeth like fangs slashing the surfaces of her mouth. She stood on toe tips and laid another sac. These were the trophic, the bad, the lost, the ones with missing legs and extra chromosomes, with half smiles and broken canines, missing abdomens.
She watched as her hatchlings devoured their almost brothers and sisters. No pride in this murder, no sorrow. She told herself, this is what one must do to be a mother. Days passed and the hatchlings molted. The dead siblings still lingered like possibility in the spiderlings’ dreams. The survivors learned to read, write, and bully intruders. It was empty stomachs not education that inspired them, drove them to prance along the bricks, taste the sun, push, and battle every shadow. The girl with the skull printed on the black shirt of her belly grew afraid. Would they kill each other? She climbed to the center of her web and began plucking its strings. Mother love is strange music. The hatchlings heard, followed the lines, the hymn and harmony. They climbed her legs, swept along her back.
The first tear, the next bite, the fact of their spit, hurt. The mother heard the crunch of her thorax. Some memory of life before horror crossed along her palps. Then came the narcotic – death. How could we say she smiled?
Nan Wigington lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband, dog, and a plethora of unseen spiders. Her flash fiction has appeared in Spelk, Gordon Square Review, and Pithead Chapel. She can be found at https://nanwigington.wordpress.com/ and on twitter @Mind_of_Winter.