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.