Photo: Sue Vincent
It’s been a long time since she was able to hold her head up.
She knew every crack in the ceiling. Every shade of light on the walls. Every spider web.
They kept the latter undisturbed.
“Let them be,” she’d asked when the housekeeper had come in one day, armed with an upended broom. The matronly women had frowned only to have understanding effuse her face with something between pity and compassion.
“You keep ’em company, then,” the housekeeper had said.
She’d cried a little after the woman had left the room, tears accumulating small pools in her ears. In them was the relief for the small thing she could still control to protect, and the hollowing despair for how much of it she’d lost, that she begs company of arachnids.
Months passed since.
The webs accumulated. Elaborated.
The seasons changed.
She watched the spiders, and found her own cobweb to hang on to and get stronger.
She learned how to control a torso that would no longer answer to her command. She found ways to manage the awful dizziness of gravity. She made peace with her chair and its straps as her adopted exoskeleton.
And she was strong enough, finally. To hold her head up.
A gentle sun licked the edge of the gate. The mostly overcast sky offered her pallid indoor skin a needed measure of protection. A glint danced on the fence’s wall and she practically felt it.
As tender and tenacious as a spider web strand.
“I’m ready,” she smiled. “For my first day out.”