UPDATE (12/2/11) — “The Widow’s Tale” has been nominated by Every Day Fiction Magazine for the Pushcart Prize, 2013.
I’m very pleased to announce that “The Widow’s Tale” is now live at Every Day Fiction! I’m rather proud of this piece, and hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it to paper. Or screen as the case may be these days.
One of the features of this story that I’m most excited about, however, isn’t even a part of the story itself. It is the opportunity to tell the story behind the story; the inspiration for our little widow’s tale of unrequited love.
Spoiler alert! You should read the story before going on with this. Go ahead! Don’t worry about me, I can wait.
Well, did you read it? Good.
See, it started a couple years ago, when I set about the toilsome task of cleaning out my garage. Naturally, I hadn’t made it out there much that year, so it became dominated with all manner of eight legged freaks. I was of the mind that I should rent the space for scientific research on arachnid studies, but with one stern point of a finger from my wife, I rolled up my sleeves, and soon found both myself and a can of spider spray hard at work.
I should say now that I don’t like killing spiders. I don’t like killing anything really. I suppose this probably lent a hand to me sparing its life when I came upon a tiny, dark critter on the garage door. It was in a rather remote and inconspicuous location, so I let it go. Later, standing at the door to the house, I surveyed the narrow passage I managed to clear betwixt the mounds of clutter, and with a self satisfied smile, I slapped the dirt from my hands and called it a job well done.
As time moved on, I would pass through the garage, every so often stopping to glance at the spider that lived. I found myself flabbergasted by the growing mound of flies on its small web and littered about like scraps below. I actually counted out over fifteen at one point. After a while, I started to muse that it was my pet of sorts. You know, the kind of pet that you would never touch lest you be reduced to the squeals of a frightened eight year old girl.
I remember as it grew, I was stricken by its deepening obsidian color. I began to wonder if it was a black widow, but I hadn’t seen any red markings on its undercarriage, so I assumed not. One day, as I passed by, that all changed.
So I did some research, and discovered that, not only are there many different kinds of Widows, a good bit of them start off without red spots or even the infamous black coloring. My little spider was just a maturing adolescent. But as it grew older, it became unquestionable that I did in fact have the source of all nightmares living in my garage.
I had a pet death machine!
I also read that they aren’t the death machines that they are made out to be, and that in this day and age, most of their bites could be readily treated so long as it’s medically addressed. Nevertheless, I have kids! I could take no risks! So out came the spray. But just as I unleashed the liquid fury, my spider was gone. It moved like a fleeting thought, leaving behind a web, abandoned to the dripping poison.
I never saw it again.
Just about a month or two ago, I lay half asleep when the story came to me. I tried seeing life from that spider’s perspective, and I found myself driven to write. As the words flowed, more and more came out of my little widow. She took on form and personality, having a reality all her own.
Looking back now, I think perhaps I’ve given her vindication by allowing her voice to be heard. And, well, letting her potentially kill somebody. It’s only fair.
So that’s it, the story behind the story. Not so epic, but hopefully entertaining. And may that little widow’s life be immortalized, if only through fiction.