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{writing time: 10 minutes}

T is for Tarantula

I read this once: about a man who kept spiders and snakes and iguanas. For twenty years, some of them. They live that long. All poisonous. All in cages. Except the iguana. That one was allowed to wander around the house. I imagine it took baths in the tub, scrambling along the sides. The way it would go to the kitchen, begging for a scrap of meat, a taste of blood.

The spiders were mostly tarantulas. Big as your hand. Bigger than the scorpion I found in the sink in Italy the year the baby went away. I was never afraid of pinching claws, only of fanged teeth and furry legs.

He would have held the spiders in his hand, stroked the soft fur of their legs and called them pet. How many eyes does a spider have? Enough to see you with, my dear.

The newspaper article said they found him dead. Long-dead. Two weeks gone, at least. The heat or the pipes or something had exploded, but it was the smell that led them to his door. One of his pets had bitten him. That’s what started it. He’d folded over the couch, died there. Over time, spiders had built webs across his mouth, laid eggs in the corners of his eyes. The snakes had coiled into his hollows, sucking out his body heat. And the iguana, the iguana had been fed at last. Right from the hand of his owner. From the arm and leg and eye.

How does a man disappear? Like this. Like this.

I’m an introvert. A loner. A writer. My words and my words. My pets the creatures I build on a page, one leg and fang at a time. I stroke them to life, whisper in their ears, feed them scraps from the tips of my fingers. And all the while, I know that someday they will turn on me. That someday, I will be the one not missed.


Read all of the Quick Fiction A to Z Stories Here

Gorgeous image by this artist

The idea for this page came from this article, which I have never been able to get out of my mind.