My Phobia

by Steppen Sawicki

This is not a story: this actually happens to me.

It’s been raining today. My wipers were going on the way to work, and at some point I noticed a streak on the windshield as if something were sticking to the wiper. So when I got to work I lifted up my wiper, expecting a bit of leaf or clump of dirt.

Instead, I saw the long twig-like legs of a soaking wet dead spider.

Now you, like any sane person, are thinking Well at least it wasn’t alive.

No, I would prefer it had been alive.

I have a severe phobia of dead spiders.

I didn’t stop to think, because I knew what would happen to me if I did. I once had a panic attack due to finding a dead spider in my laundry as I was loading it into the dryer. Not this time. I flicked the thing away with a fingernail until it was out of the way of my wiper and walked away. Only then did I think about how its dead body and spindly legs were being scraped back and forth across my field of vision all the way to work. How its legs had been thrown out behind its body by the raindrops. How its lifeless sickly-brown carcass was still on my car, somewhere in that indentation between the windshield and hood, where the rain wouldn’t wash it away but would instead swirl it around and around while I worked.

From then on the nail that touched that dead spider was tainted. I went inside and washed it. This helped only subtly.

Now save for the icky feeling of my fingernail for the rest of the day, for the most part I forgot about the dead spider. But hours later when I was waiting for my dinner in a fast-food restaurant I noticed a bug out of the corner of my eye. I thought it was a gnat. Gnats are everywhere. I hate gnats. I almost swatted it away but focused on it before I did. It was a spider, hanging from the ceiling. And it was THE SAME TYPE OF SPIDER THAT HAD DIED ON MY CAR. It was that pale sick brown and had the same twig-ness about it. This ruined my dinner. I sat the entire time, chewing mechanically like a zombie and thinking about how dead spiders must be crunchy too.

I went home. There was a spider in my bathroom.

Now, spiders are everywhere. I can deal with this. But dead spiders…

Dead spiders are everywhere too.