Hello everyone and good day! I have been getting asked about when I’ll be posting more of my short story and all I can say is, I’m going to be random about it. I just can’t commit to an actual schedule at this point. But I am going to separate my running posts and story posts so you don’t have to scroll through any ramblings you don’t wish to read to get at what you actually want to read. If you get a chance, click on the links to my two novels published by Black Rose Writing. They are in the Published Works section on the right. They take you to my Goodreads page with all the reviews right there.
Below is the continuation of Itsy Bitsy Betty. The story started in the post titled “This is NOT a running blog…The Sequel!” From now on, I will let you know by title if it is a story post or a running ramblings post. Enjoy. Comment. Share. Or just chill.
Here we go!
Sunlight slanted into my room, heating up my face and demanding I wake up. Consciousness ebbed into me. Sweat dampened my forehead and my hair. I saw the red veins in my eyelids and picturing the spiders spinning around the track the night before drew a smile on my face. I sighed, stretched and blinked the fog away. When my eyes focused I found a visitor on my pillow. A Black Widow spider. Glossy black body with the scarlet blob on its back. Two inches from my nose, its legs twitched. I said, “Good morning.”
It bounced on its legs and then scurried away, running with great speed off my pillow, down the sheets, and onto the floor. I frowned. I hadn’t meant to scare it.
“Hey, don’t go.”
I climbed out of bed and searched the floor. I looked under my bed. Not there. Disappointed I moved to the washroom, my bladder demanding to be emptied and then I spotted it sitting on a race car. I laughed and said, “Give me a second. I’ll be right back.”
I opened my bedroom door and making sure no one stood in the hallway I rushed to use the washroom and returned to find the spider waiting for me.
I zipped it around the track and in a short time, more spiders crowded into my room, awaiting their turn. The Black Widow refused to get off the car to give others a turn until I admonished it by saying, “Hey. You gotta share,” and then it climbed off and stood off on its own, as though it were sulking.
I heard my mom moving about her bedroom and knew she’d come to check on me, wondering why I wasn’t eating breakfast in front of the TV so I had to stop. All the spiders crept out the window on soft feet. All except one. The Black Widow climbed back on a car after the other spiders left, bouncing on its legs.
“You like this game huh? I can’t do it now. I’ll play with you later.”
I went to the kitchen closing my door behind me. I passed by my parents’ room. My mom lay on the bed with a hand across her forehead and her eyes squeezed shut. The other side of the bed was empty. My dad hadn’t come home last night. It bothered me. I heard the word DIVORCE before. I knew it meant having two houses to live at. Sometimes one parent would get a new family and you would start to see less of them. I knew my parents weren’t happy with each other. But my dad always came home at night and had always been home on a Saturday. I remember being frightened by that empty bed.
Something crawled up my leg. I jumped and looked down. The Black Widow clung to my shin. I shot a glance at my mom. She groaned but didn’t look at me. I ninja-walked down the hallway, terrified she would see the spider and freak out. The spider crawled up my body and sat on my shoulder.
In the kitchen, I whispered to it to be more careful. It had to stay hidden from my parents. If it understood me, it gave no indication. I took a bowl of Fruit Loops over to the computer and after the dial-up router squealed and squelched I looked up Black Widow spiders on the Internet. The spider on my shoulder didn’t move. I studied it. Half an inch in length with the red hourglass spot on the abdomen. According to Wikipedia, the spider was female. Extremely poisonous, the venom could be fatal to the very young or the very old. If not fatal, a bite could be very painful before the poison exited the body. This factoid didn’t alarm me. I don’t know how, but I knew I had nothing to fear. Now, if I was its mate, then, maybe I’d worry. Sometimes, the females ate their mate. Rare for the species, but still I frowned at the spider and said, “You shouldn’t eat your boyfriends.”
My mother screeched behind me, “Gross!”
I jumped and the spider scrambled down my chest and hid on my lap. Did she see it? Would she smack at it? Already feeling protective of the spider I put my hand over it, cupping my hand so as not to hurt it and my mother said, “How can you eat with that picture on the screen?”
I breathed out through my nose. Of course. The picture. On the screen, a close up of a Black Widow spider glared.
“I don’t know. They’re cool.”
“Ugh. Turn the screen off. They give me the creeps.”
“You seen your dad this morning?”
“Huh,” said my mom as she turned on the kettle. She shook out two aspirin and dry crunched them. Her morning ritual.
I escaped to my room, hiding my friend, hoping my mom wouldn’t turn around and see me with my hand over my lap. She didn’t. In my room, I set my friend down and she ran for the cars, scrambling on top of the red one. I leaned closer to her and said, “So. You’re a girl huh? I think I’ll call you Betty.” She clacked her legs on the car, a let’s get going type of anxiousness to her. From then on, we became inseparable.
I spent a lot of time over the next year avoiding my parents and I’m sad to say, I don’t think they noticed. They were too wrapped up in their own problems. Betty loved, I mean really loved that electric race track. She sprinted to it every morning, quivering with excitement. It made me smile to watch her fat abdomen jounce across the floor. I stayed up late most nights, reading comic books by angling them to capture the moonlight from my window and she would start walking back and forth across my chest, collecting the fabric of my shirt underneath her before she relaxed into it. The other spiders still came around for a visit and I would spin them around on the track and then they would leave. Betty never left me. Summer ended and school began.
Betty hid in my backpack and only poked her head out when I had lunch and hid out of sight of everyone in a little spot under overhanging evergreen boughs. I’d eat and she would rest on my knee and I would talk to her. I would tell her my fears. I thought my parents were going to get a DIVORCE. I told her why I thought my mom hated me and why my dad had no time for me. I also told her I wished my mom didn’t drink so much and wasn’t sad all the time. I hoped to one day become invisible and see how long it took for her to notice I was gone. Thinking about it now, I’m almost positive that Betty had no idea what I was talking about. But then, it didn’t matter. She stayed. She never left. She would even let me know when lunch break was over by crawling into my backpack even if I was in the middle of a sentence. How she knew the time, I have no idea.
When the colorful leaves littered the ground and the sky always seemed grey and a cold breeze somehow found a way to get inside my clothes and raise nubs all over my body, Betty stayed at home. Too cold for her. I worried mom would find her in my room and squish her. I pictured coming home to find a dark smear on my pillow and my mom with a glass of wine in her hand still recovering from the encounter with shaky hands. I couldn’t wait to get home after school to find her safe every day, crawling out of the garbage, out of my clothes or out from under my bed to greet me and zip up my body to perch on my shoulder.
I’d read they had a life span of two to three years. What if she were on the downslide? It could be we only have a few short months together and I would find her curled up in a ball, dead and lifeless. She could be dead the next day. I examined her to see if I could detect her age. No grey hairs or slowness of movement associated with oldness. Spry and energetic every day. That had to be a good sign. I decided to have fun with her while I still could.
She could do the most amazing things. Bored, I rolled a tennis ball across the floor so it’d hit the wall and come back. Betty’s head followed the ball on two trips and the third time I rolled it, she jumped in the air, landed on the ball and stayed on top of it as it rolled. Her little legs blurred as she balanced on top as it spun. It hit the wall, rebounded a bit and rolled back to me and still she managed to stay on top. I remember laughing and clapping my hands. Amazed and proud, as though I had something to do with it.
Snow fell, Christmas came. My dad slept on the couch and my mother no longer waited for lunch to consume her wine. I swear, with what she spent on booze she could have put me through college.
Summer break sure took its sweet time. I wanted the freedom to spend all my time with Betty, not worrying about my mom stumbling across her. With the warm weather, I brought her to school again yet still, hiding her stressed me out. Alex Cobb started getting curious about where I disappeared to on lunch. Some days I couldn’t go to my spot under the boughs as he’d tail me, sticking to the shadows and hiding behind crowds. He wasn’t very good at it. A big kid, dressed like a badass from a rap video, he definitely stuck out. I would catch him watching me, arms crossed with a scowl on his face, promising pain with his eyes. After school I would light out before Alex and run home, peering over my shoulder, fearing a big hand to appear and pull me to the ground. Other times, he waited for me outside, standing in a position where he could see the exits. I would either hide in the washroom, waiting until the halls were silent before I would get the courage to leave or find the spot where he hid for me and exit at the other end of the school. Some weeks, he would forget all about me. Those times filled me with hope, thinking maybe he found some other dude to pick on and then I would do something or say something or just look like I may be even happy and Alex’s attention would pivot to me.
The coldness between my parents didn’t thaw in the warmer months. My dad hardly ever came home and if he did, they ignored each other, my mother taking comfort from the wine and my dad? I don’t where he took comfort from. I spent the evening in my room, doing homework with Betty on my shoulder or spinning her around the track. Sometimes she would just sit on my hand while I read a comic book, turning the pages with her on my hand, clinging to it, looking relaxed and content.
More to come…randomly!