Even

by Belinda Brady

 

I’m collecting firewood out in the yard when I spot him, though I don’t see him until I’m practically on top of him. I stop dead in my tracks. He stays frozen to the spot, right by my fence, pretending not to see me. I stand there, firewood in hand, and look at him. He appears to avoid my stare, though his black, beady eyes give little away. I’m surprisingly calm, which is not like me. Normally I’d run for the hills when confronted like this, but not today. I know better than to give into my fear and run. Fear leads to stupid decisions. Fear can get you hurt.

Not this time.

I’m acutely aware of the quiet that now surrounds me as I decide my next move. He continues to look at something over my shoulder, and it’s then that I feel the first pangs of sympathy. Maybe he’s on his way somewhere else and got lost? Maybe he won’t hurt me if I let him go? Shaking these thoughts out of my mind, I tell myself I’m being ridiculous and his presence is no coincidence. He has every intention of hurting me. Even if he doesn’t know it yet.

Lowering my pile of firewood to the ground, I keep one piece in my hand as I move forward. He finally looks at me and moves slightly in my direction, making me jump back in anticipation of him pouncing on me. His movement makes me see the distinct mark on his back and I know for certain I have to end this. Moving fast, I raise the piece of wood in my hand and smash it repeatedly on his body, jamming him on the fence. His squished body balls up in protest, his legs slowly curling to their final position, the red mark on his back on full display.

It’s over as quickly as it begun.

I look at the redback spider dying on my back fence and sigh. I hate doing this, I really do, but I had no choice. He was near the firewood pile, and sooner or later would have made his way into the house, finding a nice little hiding spot where he could lay in wait for the perfect moment to inflict his painful bite on me. Just like the one before him; the one that I saw in this exact spot and stupidly let go. That bite resulted in me being hospitalised, and ever since then, I’d been waiting to get my revenge on one of these nasty little critters. Picking up my pile of wood from the ground, I have some parting words for the now dead spider before I head back inside: “We’re even.”

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