{ I never went back to that house. }

It was demolished some years later and replaced by a strip mall. Where that hive of death sat, people now steer their SUVs through a Wendy's drive-through, picking up clean paper bags filled with a different kind of death – a slower and much more devious death than the black widow provides. I did not see it torn apart, rusty nails flying into the skin of its killers, broken timbers rending limbs in a last, desperate effort to kill. I'm sure the small, dried bodies of hundreds of deadly spiders are mingled in the tar and asphalt under Long John Silver's.

The Jenkins family moved away one day when no one was paying attention. The house they haunted was occupied by another family with no interesting hobbies to speak of and nothing much going on at all. I continued exploring my fear of those small, shiny, jet black death drops when I found them. I remember once getting out of our swimming pool and reaching my slick arm inside a shed to turn the pool skimmer on. My fingers were pruned and probably my skin was not as sensitive as it might otherwise have been. I felt something creep along my arm but it didn't really register that anything unusual was going on.

As I pulled my arm back into the sunlight, something was on my hand, right in the little notch of flesh at the base of the thumb. Some little thing, shiny and black and scrambling about. I screamed and my whole body convulsed, spasming with sudden and primeval dread. I flailed to free myself of that tiny drop of black, looking like a rag doll in the summer heat, my limbs and joints suddenly liquid.

Moments later, my heart beating loud enough to hear a block away, I began to search for the black widow spider that managed at last to touch me, but I couldn't find it. I began to think it was somewhere else on me, like an ink stain, or some sticky ball that moves from skin surface to skin surface and no matter how hard you shake and flick and blow at it, it will not leave.

Sometimes I think it's still on me somewhere.


{ What scares you? }