A spider in the centre of its web.

Picture by Rolf Shmidbauer at Unsplash

Paul hooked his finger inside the medication chamber of his daughter’s nebuliser and removed a tangle of silk threads. He used to be scared of wiry legs skitter-scattering across the kitchen countertop and that creepy candyfloss clinging to his skin. But he’d removed so many now, he was no longer afraid.

Not of spiders anyway.

He tapped on the kitchen window, letting Marnie know he could see what she was up to. Catching more spiders. Because they never stayed where she put them.

In her nebuliser, where her medicine should be.

She shrugged and wielded her school tie, a lasso for arachnid wrangling.

It wasn’t really spiders she was after, rather excuses not to use her neb. Not to be different. Not to rely so heavily on treatment. Not to need it at all.

She used to enjoy the routine. Clicking the equipment together against the clock or challenging herself to do it eyes closed, shouting ‘fire’ before shooting the drug out of its pipette. But she grew up, grew aware of her situation. Started simply clamping the mouthpiece between tight teeth and scowling.

‘Tastes like sweaty metal.’

‘Tastes like greasy batteries.’

‘Tastes like dusty slime.’ A new one every day.

‘I know, sweet.’ Every day.

Of course, he didn’t. Any day.

‘I need you to take it though.’ He needed that more than anything.

He imagined a web sticky enough to trap the illness weaved throughout her veins. Eight legs wrapping it tight, squeezing the power from it.

Marnie entered the kitchen, cradling her newest incy-wincy friend, flinched at the sight of him. She clocked the assembled nebuliser, arachno-free and brimming with medicine. Her gently cupped hands snapped into fists. Crushing whatever hope she’d dared to spin, hunting for something that could never be caught.

Martha Lane is a writer by the sea. She writes extensively about grief, love, and all things unrequited. Many of her stories can be read online at marthalane.co.uk. Her novella, Lies Over the Ocean is available to buy on Amazon. Tweets @poor_and_clean