I’m spending my first summer alone collecting spiders from the outside of the house. I tend to prefer the company of spiders to people. My Pa thinks it’s me trying to cope with my loss. You see, last year around this time my best friend Glenn died. No one knows exactly how or why. And ever since, I’ve been having trouble sleeping. Anyway, I don’t feel much about it one way or another. Using a twig, I coax a green-eyed spider from beneath the siding, and into a jar. Gotcha.
“Josh, dinners ready!”
I race into the house and up the stairs. While in my room, I leave the jar on the nightstand before washing up. I then head downstairs to the dining room, where I find Ma and Pa eating without me.
“Hurry up and sit, foods a-get-in cold.” Ma said.
While we eat Ma and Pa start a-gossip-in about the goings on in town.
“She was the daughter of the Gables from across town. I must have met her once at a Sunday mass. I believe that her name is Anna. Such a lovely girl, so sad.” Ma said.
“What in heaven’s name is going on with the kids in this town? That makes three, in three years. It’s a good thing that we raised our boy a-God-fear-in.” Pa said.
“An Amen to that.” Ma said.
First Bobby James then my friend Glenn and now Anna. So crazy, I try not to think. Instead, I smile at them with a mouth full of chicken and my lips closed tight. Scraping what’s left of the mashed potatoes off my plate, I excuse myself before heading back to my room. Once there I start a-search-in through the drawers of my desk for a book on spiders. Finding it, I plop into bed and leaf through the pages. Curious I thought not finding my spider listed. Tossing the book aside. I bring the jar on the nightstand close to my face and I stare at my green-eyed captive long into the night.
“Joshua. Joshua. Joshua!” The spider’s thunderous voice shakes the walls and floors. Startled, Joshua sits up in bed and looks about confused.
“Salutations Joshua, allow me to introduce myself, I am Mr. Kwaku.” Joshua now watches in disbelief as the spider transmogrified into a green-eyed and eight armed tall thin black man in a brown suit, standing on the nightstand.
“You are in luck my boy. In exchange for my freedom, I must grant you a wish. So come child, what is it that you desire? What is it that you dream of?” Bellows Mr. Kwaku as he steps off the nightstand and paces about at the foot of the bed.
Without hesitation, Joshua says, “I wish to be a bird so I can soar high and far away from here.”
“If this is what you wish, I will grant it. But first…” Using his eight hands, Mr. Kwaku covers Joshua from head to toe in a white blanket. And Joshua slowly drifts into a deep abiding sleep and dreams of taking flight.
The crow of a rooster signals the morning sunrise. A cool breeze blows in Joshua’s open window. Pieces of shattered glass from the jar that once held the spider now lay strewn across the bedroom floor. And after repeated calls to breakfast. Joshua’s parents soon discover that their son lay dead on the cut grass.
Mr. Kwaku, the town’s medical examiner, would later describe the cause of death as a spider-bite induced accidental fall.