I stood on the deck to bask in the most beautiful weather that summer offers. I watched the clouds drift, carried by a swift, warm breeze. Somewhere down the street, children called out to one another in jovial chase. A butterfly grazed my arm gingerly before continuing along at a leisurely pace. Nature reached a momentary state of harmony.
But the butterfly fluttered carelessly into a spiderweb. Fortunately, the keeper of the trap did not stir from his dark corner. Perhaps the air’s bliss sated his needs enough to grant temporary amnesty to wayward wanderers.
Still, the dumbstruck butterfly made no attempt to leave for several long seconds. Didn’t she want to get away? I grew uncomfortable awaiting the escape, so I picked up the longest twig I could find nearby and walked over to free the foolish prisoner. I stood on my toes and outstretched my arm with the branch in-hand. As soon as freedom was within range, the butterfly seemed to understand the dire situation. She began to flutter and tug desperately. The edge of the twig was no further than a hair’s width from saving her when someone snatched my arm away.
“What are you doing!” we screamed at one another. He spun me back around so that we both faced the web. He pulled my back against him and wrapped my arms under his. “Just watch,” he said. He sounded unworried. I hoped he knew something I didn’t.
The previously unperturbed spider could not allow such extensive flapping and wobbling to pass. He scurried down at unfathomable speed. Then, he twisted her body around and around with his many legs. The panicked yanking of her wings surrendered to his meticulous slaughter. He made grotesquely neat work of her demise. Only miniscule fragments of her brilliant colors shined through gaps in her second and final cocoon. My stomach crowded my throat and threatened to suffocate me.
The spider’s body bore down onto his spun creation. The shreds of color beneath the webbing faded as he extracted her life. I suppose it only took a passing moment.
I might have protested or squirmed, way too late. Maybe he mentioned something about the ways of nature and spiders having to eat. Most of the words are lost to my memory except, “Probably the best meal that spider ever ate.” He walked his fingertips along my shoulder with a laugh.
One of the children down the street began to cry. Somewhere outside of myself, I heard a motherly voice pleading for calm, “Oh, sweetie! Don’t cry… You want to go get ice cream?”