Shiny and Black

by Steve Passey

I feared her intensely. I wanted to see her hurt, hurt like she hurt me, but I didn’t have the words— her words—because I’m not good at that. I’m not made that way. But in the garage, low down by the door, I chanced upon a spider, shiny and black.

A black widow.

Yes, they are found around here.

Firstly, and only, I thought of using the spider to make her hurt.

I captured the poisonous thing in a glass jar. I thought about it awhile, trying to get up some nerve, but my nerve reminded me: “Think about who you are dealing with.” My nerve said: “One might not be enough.”

You already know they are found around here

I looked for more, by night, by flashlight, and sure enough I found one under the old metal washtub a friend set their sprinkler on to water their garden. I put her in the jar with the other. Then I found another one in a neighbor’s old shed. I jarred her too. With three, I felt sure I could deliver a world of hurt, unstoppable pain falling down like water coming down the mountain at night, my redress descending as if from a great height.

I slept on it, slept one night, wishing for the next part to come to me in a dream. A plan to use, a place to set them, shiny and black and venomous, the three sisters (for so I imagined them to be) would use their magic just for me. But if there is supposed to be some magic in dreams too, I had none, and I lay that night in a deep and dreamless sleep.

In the morning, when I went to the jar, only one of my captured witches remained. The other two were thin, sere husks, hollow and bowed. Their sheen was gone, their black dulled to brown.

I gave up. I conceded. I admitted I did not know what I was dealing with.

I filled the jar with water, and then left it for the day. I drowned the last black widow, who was a little bigger than when I first found her, her natural ebony harder now too, hard like the devil’s scales, and the scarlet promise on her belly so like a beating heart, so like a vampire’s kiss it was hard to look at, even harder than the day before when I first saw and loved her as my saviour.

Tomorrow, I’ll pour her down a drain.

Tomorrow night, maybe, I’ll dream, dream of something else. I’ll dream of magic maybe, of places close to the ground, or of anything really, anything not shiny and black.

Steve Passey wants you to know that it’s neither here nor there, or even this or that, but it’s actually two kinds of excellent things. So come on, let’s go.
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