Wednesday, January 16, 2013

With Purpose

I was able to combine two prompts.  Yay me! This is fiction.

Josiah had always had an affinity for spiders.  His earliest memory was of watching a spider busily creating an intricate web in the corner of his crib.  That spider had been his only companion that day.  His mother, hardened by alcoholism and the family's extreme poverty, would loudly berate Josiah's always unemployed father for his idle ways as the two sat on the porch and got drunk.  In their need to escape, they often neglected Josiah, who would sit quietly in the corner and watch the spiders until they remembered him.  But Josiah wasn't lonely; he had the spiders for company.  Spiders were never idle. They were purposeful, and that resonated within him, and gave him comfort when nothing else about his meager life could.  He whispered his thoughts to the spiders in the darkness and was content. 

And now, at 97 years of age, Josiah still liked to watch the eight legged denizens of the world spin their creations, building in any available open space, like the corners of his basement.  He had been there watching a beautiful gray house spider last night,  when his heart seemed to seize up in his chest, and he fell, hitting his head against the cinderblock wall.  Since Josiah lived alone, nobody had come to find him fallen and unconscious on the cold basement floor, and nobody was coming to help him now. His heart was racing erratically, his brittle bones vibrating with each pulse, his breathing labored. He was too weak to pull himself into a sitting position, or to get himself up the stairs to the phone to call for help. 

He embraced the idea of dying as if it were a close friend returning from a long trip, and he held it close.  Josiah lay on the floor of his basement and stared up at the unmade ceiling, hoping to see a spider or two for company.The early sunlight peered into the small windows and hit the strands of a web, and he could see the large gray house spider from last night, staring at him as he lay helpless.  She wasn't alone, he realized. Everywhere he looked, he could make out the gleam of tiny eyes.  It seemed to Josiah that there were millions of spiders staring down at him from the rafters, waiting. He coughed, and his heart seized again. It wouldn't be long now, before it would stop beating altogether, and he was not sorry. He just kept watching the spiders.

The spiders began to crawl down from the rafters, and Josiah watched them flow gracefully down the walls toward him.  He wasn't afraid, he was mesmerized at their approach, and when they began to crawl up his legs and arms and over his torso and head, he wasn't afraid.  He felt somehow blessed, and comforted by their presence.  Josiah breathed his last while in their moving embrace, and the spiders, with a new purpose, covered their brother with a gossamer burial shroud and mourned.



The word for today is the third definition is idle.



For this week, your inspiration comes from two words (you are not required to use these words, though you may):
Gossamer: noun; a fine, filmy substance consisting of cobwebs spun by small spiders, which is seen esp. in autumn.
Affinity: noun; ( pl. affinities ) (often affinity between/for/with) a spontaneous or natural liking or sympathy for someone or something: he has an affinity for the music of Berlioz.



34 comments:

  1. There is a magical quality to this. I like it.

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  2. Gah! That's simultaneously lovely and enormously creepy; seems like a fitting end for him, but I hope I don't go the same way.

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  3. I liked this - great narrative voice.

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  4. Yikes! That was beautiful and horrifying.

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  5. Though am not afraid of spiders ,I definitely do not like them & the line about their glinting eyes was scary!Poor Josiah-from cradle to grave,he had only the spiders as company & it somehow seemed befitting that after his death,he be shrouded by their gossamer weft-blindingly sad & really touched me.Great job:-)

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  6. I found this beautiful. Two cousins and an aunt, and a long-time family friend passed away within the last two weeks...Death is a constant visitor this month. Somehow, this post made it all peaceful and lovely. Hmm. Quite unexpected. I thank you.

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    1. I am happy to have brought you a little comfort.

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  7. I really enjoyed reading this, though I have no desire to ever be wrapped in a spiderweb. You made it seem just perfect and peaceful for him.
    ~Angela

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  8. This had a wonderful fairy tale/Brothers Grimm Quality to it. I too loved how peaceful he was, he certainly deserved it after the rough beginning of life he had.

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  9. I like how you wrote this. I felt for Josiah throughout, from crib to death. I felt anger at his parents (neglect is never okay.) I felt sadness for Josiah as he faced death, but was happy when he found comfort in the spiders' presence.

    That all being said, spiders creep me out. And imagining them crawling on me, spinning a gossamer shroud, made me want to throw my laptop aside and run around screaming. (My chest feels a little tight, come to think of it...)

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  10. *shiver* Ack! Spiders. I hate spiders. I don't envy Josiah's ending. A VERY clever piece though and nice combination of the two prompts. I have to admit, I thought the spiders might phone the ambulance or something, but I suppose your ending fit better. ;)

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    1. Spiders calling for help...might be interesting!

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  11. this was just lovely. (and I am not a fan of spiders)

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    1. I like them at a distance. They stay on their side, I stay on mine!

      Thank you for reading my work. I appreciate it.

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  12. Love the way you use creepy characters and a death scene to create a moment of tenderness and connection.

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  13. Shoot. I hate to tell you that you were voted into third place this week at Trifecta, but you've got over 150 too many words. :-( This is a really great tale--definitely my favorite from you so far. Sorry I can't give you third. I'm sure you can imagine the hellfire I'd receive in return. I'll give you lots of twitter and FB love though.

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    1. That's okay. I just couldn't shorten it any more!

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  14. I'm glad you didn't shorten it. I wanted many more words.

    I loved the setting and that last paragraph was magic.

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  15. Agree with Lance...the last paragraph was magic. This is the second prompt I've read out of this set that has treated the subject of death with dignity and beauty. Kudos to you.

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    1. Thank you. My grandfather is on his way, so I have had death in the back of my mind.

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I welcome comments, but reserve the right to correct your spelling because I am OCD about it!