I am afraid of spiders but delighted by ants. I always want to know more about ants–about their culture, the ways they communicate, what sort of music they’re into–but I don’t want to know anything about spiders. Even a picture of a spider lifts my intestines up into my chest as if I am in free-fall.
One day, in Montreal, Samara comes with me to the Bibliothèque Nationales, so that she can vet a big photographic book of ants for me in case there are any pictures of spiders.
I hide behind my hands and listen to her turning the pages one by one.
“That one’s fine,” she says, “that one’s fine, this one’s fine, oh this one’s adorable.”
“Thank you for doing this, honey,” I say, still hiding, and I wonder if she finds this charming or if it’s finally dawning on her what she’s got herself into.
“This one’s fine,” she says, “this one’s fine, this one’s… oh my GOD.”
“A spider?” I ask.
“Are they eating it?”
“They’re eating parts of it,” she says, “And parts of it are eating them.”
“I don’t want to see it!,” I say, tightening the gaps in my fingers, “And I don’t want to hear any more about it!”
“Shh!” someone says, “Tabarwet…”
I listen to Samara close the book and put it back on the shelf. I hear it slide tightly and firmly, safe between the other entomological quartos.
Sometimes, at night, I think of that book and the horror I know it contains, on the other side of the ocean, existing.