She wore her white hair balled upon her head with combs and pins to hold it there. Her face and hands were as wrinkled as a prune that had been dried in the hot summer sunshine. She had a very thin face and a pointed nose. Upon her nose grew a strange looking mole and all the children wondered how it came to be.
She had very green eyes and around her neck hung a chain. Attached to the chain was an odd shaped stone almost a pale pink color and very smooth. She called it her fortune stone and claimed it brought her good health and enough money to buy just what she needed.
As she talked her teeth clicked and clattered often times falling from her gums causing the children to push back in their seats.
So it came to be that upon this particular day Miss Nettie Pratchard began to tell the story about the devil’s spider that was weaving its web just beneath her maple tree.
“Look at its long thin legs and see how this devil spider can spin its web with such unique design. No other spider can write like this yellow and black jewel can. Everyday he comes out and he sits as still as can be hoping that some stray bug will get stuck in his silky sticky web. Once a bug gets caught in the web, the spider quickly runs over and injects him with venom that causes the bug not to be able to move. While the bug is not able to move, the sinister ole spider sneaks around him and ties him up all around his head. With silk thread as strong as can be, the devil spider winds the thread around his head and then his body. Then the old bugger just sits back and waits for the bug to die. All the time the bug is trying to free himself by wiggling and pulling, the old spider just laughs an evil laugh knowing the bug was doomed.”
“Then what will happen?” The children asked as their eyes watched the yellow and black spider balance himself perfectly on his thread of silk.
“Then the devil spider will suck the insides out of the bug leaving only the shell behind. The oou-wee goou-wee yellow mucous fills the spider’s stomach and he eats his web for the day. Once I saw a beetle bug caught in his web. The bug fought and wiggled terribly trying to get free until he was exhausted. The old spider just sat there watching and waiting. Finally I decided to help the poor beetle and see if I could get the silk from off his back and legs. When I turned the bug over to see his stomach guess what I did see?” Miss Nettie asked in a strange sounding voice.
“What did you see?” The children all asked.
“The devil spider had wound his silk all around the head of the beetle. If I pulled off the silk off would come his head. Now isn’t that a devil of a spider?” She grinned as she used her bony hands to show just how she held the beetle.
“The really bad thing about writing spiders is this child. If you pass by a writing spider and you see the zig zag weaving he has made. Be sure to look really good because if it spells your name that means the devil will come for you by midnight. He will wind his deadly silk string around your head so that if anyone should try to take it off, OFF COMES YOUR HEAD!” She cackled lunging towards the children.
“So when you come tomorrow you look really good to see what this old spider is writing. It might be just some wacky ziz zag stuff to out wit the bugs or it may be YOUR name so look really good! Don’t ever get too close to him because he will jump upon your neck and shoot his venom into your blood. Then when you can’t move, he will suck your insides out leaving only your empty body behind for the ants to eat.” Her eyes moved slowly from child to child.
“I don’t want a bunch of bodies in my backyard so be off with you. Tomorrow is another story day!” She laughed snapping her long bony fingers.
“Tomorrow is another story day and no dead bodies do I want in my yard!” She shouted.
The children ran as fast as they could each one pulling on the other to gain speed.
What the old lady did not tell the children was that the yellow and black spider was just an ordinary garden spider who does eat insects but harmless to humans. She did not tell them that the zig zag pattern was designed by the spider to keep bigger animals from running into it and destroying its web. What she did not tell them was the writing was not writing anyone’s name. NOT EVEN YOUR NAME IS WRITTEN!
Question: Does the writing spider really write a person’s name?
Written by Sybil Shearin
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