top of page

A Spider's Wish by Sabine Housenga

artwork by AI


An old saying dating back centuries says If you wish to live and thrive, let a spider run alive. It has long been thought by some that killing a spider can bring bad luck to those who stomp on one. However, a fear of spiders is one of the most common fears in the world. Many who are startled by one wouldn’t think twice about snatching the nearest magazine and crushing a spider with one blow. They creep and crawl and sometimes leave someone with a nasty venomous bite. However, a spider doesn’t have any ill intent behind a bite. They don’t mean to startle anyone, but it’s often quickly assumed they do.

Spiders have long been a recurring pest in my life. At my old house, we had a basement that was never quite finished in all our years of living there. Wooden rafters lined the ceilings, the concrete floor was cold and hard, and it was dark and damp. A perfect place to house bunches of spiders. Giant, hairy, wolf spiders lurked underneath storage containers. Delicate Daddy Longlegs hid in corners. I even had a run-in with the infamous Black Widow once. It was a rare occasion that I didn’t see some sort of spider when I went to the basement.

Eventually, I moved, but it seemed like the spiders hitched a ride on the moving truck. I still have my fair share of run-ins with spiders and it always ends the same way for the spider: crushed beneath the force of my fingers with its fragile legs contorted and broken beyond repair. That is, until one specific spider.

It was two in the morning. I had stayed up far too late and finally started winding down for the night. Just as I had pulled a blanket off my bed, a rather large spider revealed itself in my sheets. I shrieked and scrambled for a tissue while still trying to keep an eye on the spider. It scurried faster than I had seen any other spider. I went for it as it moved down my bed near the floor, but I was far too slow. She had fallen onto the floor and underneath my bed. I panicked and started tearing apart my room in a frantic search for the spider. An hour passed and my search had turned up with nothing. Tired, beaten, yet still paranoid, I drug my pillow and blanket to the couch in defeat. The spider had won this battle.

I spent the next two days paranoid, yet I did sleep in my room. One night, I was just on the edge of sleep when I glanced up where the wall meets the ceiling, just above my tapestry. There the spider was. She lurked above me just waiting for me to fall asleep. I leaped up and switched on the light, startling the spider immediately. As I grabbed another tissue, she darted behind my tapestry. After gaining enough courage to brush back the tapestry, I saw it again, and just as fast as before, it darted away and hid. I had lost her again. Another frantic search had ensued. I tore apart my bedding looking for the spider to no avail. I did my walk of shame to the couch once again. She had won another battle.

My third and final encounter with this spider happened long after the first two. Almost three weeks had passed and my paranoia had mostly subsided. Once again, it was night. I was cleaning my room and turned to grab something from the bathroom. When I did, I was met with a familiar eight-eyed gaze. On my door, in the dim light, just at eye level, there she was. I flicked on the light and turned quickly to grab yet another tissue, but I paused and stared at the spider. Even though I had turned on the light and had gotten close enough to the spider to startle it, she didn’t scamper away this time. It was only now that I had a good chance to examine it. It was brownish black and about the size of a half dollar. Being this close to it, I could make out all the tiny hairs lining its body. Each of its eight legs stood perfectly still as I gazed into all of its eight eyes.

For a second, when I gazed back at this spider, I thought I could end this war with her once and for all, with a swift blow from the tissue I held in my hand. But, a different thought rose within my head; this spider wanted nothing to do with me. She wasn’t waiting for my death like I was waiting for hers. She wasn’t searching endlessly to destroy me. She simply wanted to live. I had been personifying this spider and thinking that it was plotting my demise. While she had venom in her fangs, she had no venom in her intent. While my heart was technically so much larger than hers, it didn’t seem that way at this moment.

After my realization, I stepped back and set down my weapon. I picked up a cup and a piece of paper. Swiftly, I slammed the cup over the spider and slid the paper underneath her. The spider quickly became fearful of me again. She fought as much as her spindly legs could to escape her plastic prison. I carried her to my back porch and flicked on the light. I carefully lifted the cup from the paper and she slid into the grass and darted away into the night. As I watched her scurry away, I reflected for a moment.

Humans are quick to make decisions. Over thirty-five thousand decisions are made by one person every day. With this spider alone, I had probably made hundreds of decisions. With all these assumptions that humans have to make about everything, every day, so much judgment can stem from them. So many false stereotypes and clichés arise because of how judgmental humans are. Every bit of malicious intent I thought this spider had was an assumption I had completely made up. This spider probably didn’t even know how it ended up in my room and yet, my immediate thought was to kill it. And while this spider was so small, it had taught me a big lesson; don’t be so quick to judge.

“If you wish to live and thrive, let a spider run alive.” I have long heard this phrase from my grandmother but I never really listened to her. I was far too afraid of spiders to be able to live alongside them. I thought that harm would befall me if I let them stick around. In reality, they want nothing to do with me and don’t care what I think. What I think is probably wrong almost all the time anyway. Judgment didn’t do this spider any good and judgment about other people won’t do any good either. So, when I encounter another spider, while I’m trying to live and thrive, I just might let it run alive.

bottom of page