This One’s Fine

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.


  1. Nnnyaaaargh!! Rob, you articulated the dread of knowing the enemy is there very well. Have you been menaced by any of this season’s randy eight-leggers yet? One of the bastards was heading in through our open lavatory window, bold as brass, while i was burning erb in there the other night. Though quite shaken, I repelled it with jets of fragrant smoke, and it scuttled off back out to the outside of the building and disappeared round a corner…towards the children’s rooms…But then I thought how amusing my kids found it when we were leafing through a BBC tie-in book, Nightmares of Nature, about homicidal fauna, and I got to the chapter on our excessively-jointed friends to be presented with a full-page photo of a big, dark, hirsute monster…on a guy’s face…I flipped the page, shriek,another orrible pic, flip page, shriek, another, repeat, repeat…the girls were most amused. Huh.
    Is it not a fine thing to have understanding womenfolk in this regard?

    1. Hah! Well at least the girls are better-adjusted than you and I on the arachnoid front. We’ve not had a single visitation yet this year. All I can think is that we’ve been keeping the heating low in a futile bid to help the planet (spiders and all) so maybe they’ve intruded on warmer neighbours? Who knows. They’re probably saving up their appearances for one big appearance on my sleeping face.

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