I opened the bathroom and there he was in the hallway waiting for me. I slammed the door shut to keep him out, but knew he could easily get in under the door. Or he’d wait me out. I’d think he’d given up and he’d be around the corner. My temperature rose and my heart panicked in its cage. Tears began. This is what it is like to be arachnophobic. Let’s get our words straight. Phobic, not afraid.
I was 16 years and it was close to midnight on a Friday and my dad would not be home until Sunday. If I wanted to get out of the bathroom, I’d have to rescue myself. The spider was almost 4 inches from the end of one leg to another and it was about in the middle of the wall.
I got up on the sink counter in case the spider crawled in from under the door. Without putting another foot back down, I rummaged through the bathroom cabinet and under the sink. I poured all the shampoo out of the squeeze bottle into a cup. Into the bottle went X-14, Old Spice, windex, rubbing alcohol, and mouth wash. Still on the counter I braced myself and slowly opened the door. The spider hadn’t moved.
I flipped opened the top of the cap, took aim, and squeezed. The blast knocked the spider to the floor. The mixture splattered in all directions. I stopped and looked down. A leg twitched. I blasted it again and it spun around on its back.
When my dad got home on Sunday, he saw the wall before he noticed the dead spider. The mixture had taken the paint off the wall.
Putting my work out in the world causes fear. Sometimes sharing my work even stirs that same panic inspired by spiders. I’ve been driving to work and I’ll think about my novel and I’ll remember that it is out in the world and that maybe, just maybe, someone is reading it. The desire to change into another person overwhelms me. I want to be anyone except the idiot who put words on a page. I’d like to blast my novel straight out of existence and memory.
But perhaps that is overreacting. So, what scares you?