Sunday, November 11, 2007

There was something on the corner of her mouth.

I leant in. Across the table.

A thin black crease. An eyelash, perhaps.

She was speaking. I remember that. Her mouth moving, her face animated, her eyes wide. Was it anger?

Were we fighting?

I said, in what I hoped was a neutral voice, “ You’ve got something on the side of your mouth.”

She nodded and reached up, tweezed it between her fingers, opened her mouth wider and gave it a little pull.

Immediately there were glistening black lines hooked over her upper and lower lips. Through her open mouth I could see something dark in her throat.

A spider.

“Well could you help me?” she asked. “Not just sit there?” She put down her fork and took the other leg, at the left hand corner of her mouth, between thumb and forefinger. Just as she had with the right.

I hesitated, unsure what to do.

“Oh just forget it. I’ll do it myself,” she said. She was angry.

I grew anxious. “No, no. I want to help, I just…”

She was pulling quite hard now, mouth open as wide as it would go, her throat rippling. The spider’s other legs were digging into her lips as it tried to hold itself in place. A thin pinprick of blood ran down her chin. I could be of help. I picked up a napkin to dab it away before it stained her new top. I remembered that she had been showing it off to me proudly that morning.

“Just leave it. Leave it!” she said and sighed, still pulling at the legs.

Slowly the spider began to emerge until it’s carapace was against the back of her teeth. I sat fidgeting nervously at the table. She paused for a moment, breathing through her nose, her forehead beaded with sweat.

“Almost there,” she said. “ Well? Get the dog!”

The dog, of course. I felt relieved. I left the room and went downstairs in the dark, then out into the dark garden. It was cold and the vast tangle of trees and bushes at the garden’s end stood petrified in the moonlight. Something bad had happened in this garden and it was good that the dog was here to watch over us. He was in his kennel. I attached the lead and brought him back up the stairs.

“Here boy, here boy,” she said as we entered and offered the dog the large spider. He leapt up and took it with a single snap of his jaws, then sat down contentedly on the mat to crunch it up. I noticed the dog had only three legs.

Then I remembered that dogs were three-legged animals.

And I remembered that sometimes spiders grew in her throat.

I was relieved to remember these things. I smiled at her.

She was busy with her food.

I wondered what we were having for dessert.

1 comment:

dejan said...

This is just excellent!