The spider zig zagged across a corner by the stair case. Zig! Zag! Web here! Web there! He had a lot of energy, but he sometimes got distracted. He liked looking at the other insects and bugs. He liked watching the potato bugs roll about. He liked watching the flies rest on dirt and the bees buzz too busy for a word. He enjoyed it very, very much.
...Except every time he caught himself staring out at all of the different bugs, he would get behind. Suddenly he would start and look around only to see that all of the other spiders' webs were much further along than his. He would scratch his head and then dive into spinning his web again. Zig! Zag! Web here! Web there!
He knew what they might think. Look at his web! It was only a strand here and there! He hardly had the basic shape of a snowflake formed on his web. Every now and then he would think of the past, back to when he spun a web for his lady spider. She was beautiful. She was loving and willing to eat his head and kill him after they mated. She was really everything a spider could ask in a wife. If only they had gotten that far.
...But he threw that all away. He saw the dew drops on another web, and he forgot about the spider who wanted to eat his head. All he thought about was the dew on the thread of another web and how tasty and fresh it would be.
And his lovely spider left him. And she is planning on mating with another spider and eating his head now. And he knew all of this because the web she shared with this new spider was not so far away. No matter how hard he tried not to look east of his own spot, he would sometimes peek east and see the emaculate web his ex-spider shared with the new male spider. The web’s thread was thick and sticky. The design was all of the highest quality. The truth hurt: his ex had found herself a better spider.
The spider, his name was Dob by the way. Dob cringed whenever he thought of that damned spider and his fancy web that his ex was laying on. Soon they would mate and soon she would eat the well-off spider’s head. Why did she have to find him? Why did she have to lay in his web? Why did she have to pick the spider that was everything that he wasn’t? Why?
At that moment, wallowing in his sorrow, a human rushed by. NO! Dob jumped away just in time. His web was not as lucky. Everything was destroyed. He had nothing. He tried to be upset, but he was no more upset than he was before when he thought of his ex and her new spider that was better than him in every way (no, he was not exaggerating). Really though, why would he be more upset? He was only a few threads in as far as his web was concerned. It would only take a day or two to get back to where he was with his home. Now, if his ex’s new spider boyfriend’s web had been ruined, it would have taken weeks to re-spin...Except it would never be ruined because his ex’s new spider boyfriend was far too smart to start a web somewhere as stupid as where Dob had decided to start one.
Oh, and it was the second time this week his web had been destroyed. Same place, same time.
Dob focused on being upset. “I should care about this. I should be upset. My web has been destroyed!” he said. But not any of his eight legs felt any more sadness than he had felt before. In fact, the word "nothing" was quite fitting for how he felt, body, limbs, and all.
Instead, his many eyes fixed themselves on a ladybug. She had many spots. He had seen her before here and there with her manbug. (He used to call all ladybugs "ladybugs," but he learned recently that it’s politically correct to call male ladybugs "manbugs.")
The ladybug was near a little pond. Actually, it was a puddle, but to these small creatures it was a small lake. She dipped in a leg here and there and made ripples in the water. The ripples were beautiful. It was some kind of ever-changing liquid web of its own. Dob thought it was a beautiful web, really. There was something about it that had him fixated. He couldn't look away. The ripples would fade and the puddle would quiet, and the ladybug would dip her leg in again and create another web.
“I like your waterweb,” Dob called out.
“Yes. It’s nice. I make webs too.”
“I know. I just saw your web get destroyed by a human.”
“Oh, you saw that?” he blushed.
“Why do you build your web where the humans often walk?”
“I...I don’t know actually.”
“Well, why do I?”
“Why do I make webs in the water?”
“I don’t know.”
“Maybe you don’t.”
“Wait...Why do I build webs in the wrong places?”
“Well, why do you make webs at all?”
“I’m a spider. We make webs. Look about you. Look at all of the webs in the corners and against the walls and in the trees.”
“I’ve seen them. They’re all pretty and nice.”
Dob thought of the pretty new web his ex crawled on with her pretty new (and dumb) spider boyfriend and grumbled, “I guess so.”
“So why don’t you have a pretty web?”
“Because it was destroyed.”
“You knew it would be.”
“No I didn’t.”
“Well it happened earlier this week…”
“That’s true…Maybe I knew. I don’t know.”
“Well, actually, you do.” The ladybug smiled.
“You just have everything figured out don’t you, Ladybug?”
“You’ve got all of your fancy spots. I’ve seen them every morning. A dot here, a dot there. Everyone knows happy ladybugs have a lot of spots. You have so many.”
The ladybug smiled, but her eyes did not. “I want you to come close, but… I’m afraid.”
“Afraid of what?”
“You’re a spider. I’ve heard you were poisonous.”
“Me? I’m big and orange and maybe look scary...but I’m not poisonous. Who told you that?”
“The manbug that used to make waterwebs with me.”
“What happened to him?”
“He makes waterwebs with someone else now.”
“That’s okay. Well, if you’re not poisonous, will you come close? Come down to the water. I want to show you something.”
The spider was doubtful. Spiders and ladybugs didn’t usually get close. It wasn't supposed to happen really unless he were to eat her (in a nonsexual way, obviously). However, what did he have to lose? He had no lady spider. He had no web anymore (again). And if she was a bore, he could just eat her. So he eased himself down onto the earth with a single strong thread and crawled slowly to the ladybug.
Many animals had assumed that the number of spots on a ladybug’s back represented how old a ladybug was, however, Dob knew that wasn’t true. Spots represented happiness. Or so he thought.
“What did you want to show me?” he asked.
“I wanted to show you my wings.”
“I could see them from up there," he snapped.
“The inside part.”
Dob lifted his eyebrows and leaned forward a millimeter. The ladybug lifted her wings so that Dob could see the inside of her wings, underneath the many spots. There were no spots underneath. There was no color at all. And by showing the spider underneath her wings, he saw her sadness, her loneliness, her constant aching.
“You’re just as sad and lonely as I am...But the spots--.”
“Are just a distraction. Ladybugs are supposed to be happy. It’s expected. Spots make others around us happy. When we see other animals around us happy, we feel like we're supposed to be happy too. It's what keeps the world spinning these days: appearing to be happy.”
“Tell me how you really feel.”
And the spider listened to the ladybug talk. She fluttered her wings every now and then when she talked about her emotions and he saw the scars underneath her wings--the scars he never noticed because he only saw the happy spots on top. Sometimes she rolled on her back laughing. Sometimes she sighed when she talked about mating season and although she was a ladybug- a joke of a bug really- she made the spider ache to have his head eaten.
The spider started talking about his own life. He talked about his old web, the web of many flies and many nights with hairy spiders that spun wet webs that followed his break up. He talked about the structure of the web and its destruction that occurred twice in the past week. The ladybug listened, smiling the entire time.
“You don’t have to spin a web up there, you know,” she finally said.
“Of course I do. I’m a spider. What else would I do?”
“You could make waterwebs with me.”
“I could… But I’m a spider. I want to make a web. I want to get my head eaten.”
“What’s wrong with my waterweb?”
“It doesn’t last. Your webs disappear after only a few seconds. What's a home if it doesn't last?”
“But then I make another one, and another one, and another one.”
“I want a silk web. One that lasts. That stays the same.”
“You just want a silk one because all of the other spiders do.”
“And so what? What’s wrong with being safe?”
“What’s wrong with being scared?”
“You just hide behind your dots.” He said it and then he watched how the words made her wings droop, spots and all.
“...I think you’ll make a great silk web.”
“I…” It was too late. It was always too late.
“Go on now. You don’t belong at a pond making waterwebs. You’re a spider.”
And Dob shot his web out and up and pulled himself back up into the air. He slowly spun himself up waving to his fellow spiders with a smile appearing happy. They all waved back, nodding as they saw another spider on his way up to make another beautiful web like the rest of them. Dob started his web again. He would make a nice, strong web. He would find a nice spider who would eat his head. He’d catch flies and finish the day with a beer watching the sunset go down. That was all there was to it.
Zig! Zag! Web here! Web there!
And as he worked along like all of the other spiders he hoped a human would walk by tomorrow and destroy his web. He hoped his web wouldn’t make it through the week. He spun webs like all of the other spiders, but he was distracted more than all of the other spiders...and he just couldn't help that. He looked down at the ground and in the trees at all of the different bugs doing different things, and he daydreamed until he saw spots and then finally continued on spinning his web like the rest of the other spiders.
At 6:00 am the next day, Tom, a human being woke up to an alarm. He showered. He made Folgers coffee. He combed his hair. He put on a shirt that needed to be ironed come a few more days of work. He wrapped a tie around his neck and knotted it the way Lucy used to do with her lovely porcelein hands. He picked up his briefcase, he pocketed his iPhone, and he walked out the door of his apartment forgetting to take his coffee with him.
Once he neared the stairs that took him down to ground level he slowed his walk. He had seen a big ugly orange eight legged little fucker that was most likely poisonous twice in the last week. He didn’t want to get bit. Low and behold he saw a web, or was it just left over strands from the last web he had poked through yesterday? Either way, he pressed on, suitcase first to break the web. No spider in sight. He dusted off the few pathetic strands of web on his suitcase and drove to work.