dwelled in the corners of her bathroom. Who are you? she asked
curiously, a frizz of shampoo sliding down her cheek. Why do you
watch me bathe? Who are you?
I am Charlemagne, the spider answered.
Why are you here? she asked through
the rushing water.
The steam grew thick and suffocating,
hot against her throat. She closed her eyes to the poignant smell of
soap; I have conquered this realm, answered Charlemagne sublimely.
She shut off the shower, and the steam dissipated; the spider had disappeared.
next day she showered early, delicately, curiously, as if she remembered
something that remained a dream thickened by tension. You've had
a hard day, said Charlemagne suddenly, his voice richly enveloping
her; the scent of lavender permeated the water, and she bathed in diamonds
raining from above. I have, she answered softly, and did not
notice the spider curling its spindly legs around the mirror. You need
to relax, he said, and the water formed a fuzzy puppy snuggled warm
against her weary breast; she sank deep into the tile where the diamonds
piled high around her melted flesh.
Above the steam, the spider waited.
The day turned fresh upon her lips;
the warmth segued to a cold saltiness, and she was jarred by the hard
diamonds, water pelting her. What are you doing to me? she asked
the spider perched precariously on the curtain rail.
I do nothing, he answered.
I have seen you tired and weary, and I have felt your jubilance,
so intoxicating. You think of Communism and the revolt.
"Stop talking in riddles,"
she said. "You confuse yourself, and you're being dumb. You're
being stupid. Stop saying things you don't mean."
You think you are a pacifist, but
you read and plot violence. Long ago you overfilled yourself with flesh,
wanting someone to turn you inside out. You believed that you are more
than just the blood and bone, but you had deceived yourself. Now you
are Lady Chatterly void of a lover; you sink deep into yourself dreaming
"You don't mean it."
You owe money on the book. It's wet
and wrinkled now, like thick lace.
She shut off the shower; the silence
was sharp. Through the thinning steam she saw the spider's body, white
to the edge of transparency and nearly camouflage against the tiles.
Curiously she thought of an article that she had read about the pepper
moths; in the industrial parts of London the pepper moths were turning
gray and dark like the city, blending into their environment, assimilating
to an industry-weary people. The animals showed signs; she stared at
her white tile, pure even when crusted with soap scum. The spider's
two beady eyes followed her stare silently, dashingly, questioningly.
Stepping carefully from the shower, she retrieved an empty tampon box
from the trashcan, plucked the inert spider from the tile, and dropped
it into the box. She rolled the thin cardboard closed. Silence again
thickened the air. Her hands were still.
Quickly wrapping herself in a robe,
she ventured outside. The wind cracked ice against her wet body as she
slid the tampon box into her mailbox and raised the red mail flag. Slamming
the door against the wind, she retrieved an old radio, plugged it in
beside her bathtub, and turned it on.
She sat down in her waiting bathtub
and watched beads of water trickle down the white tile like perspiration.
A song was just ending; from the speakers floated "and that was
Burton Cummings, with 'Charlemagne.' Now finishing up our Canadian Rock
Turning on the faucet and plugging
the drain, she melted into the water and sank deep, deep within herself,
images of Che burning brighter and brighter against the pure tile.