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To Let a Mockingbird Live: The Life of a Despised Animal
Once upon a time, in a pet store buzzing with activity, there was a quiet, dark corner hidden in the back room. Here, in this sheltered corner, a baby Chilean Rose tarantula was born. She was named Crescelia for the ivory crescent on her back that she got from faulty genes. She was born blind, deaf, and bare without fur, just like all the other babies. Her mother had died right after she laid her eggs, as some tarantulas do, and had left her young on their own. Crescelia could do nothing but scamper around blindly, sleep with all her other brothers and sisters and cry for her mother.
In time, Crescelia was separated from the others as she grew her fur and learned how to see and hear.
One day, when Crescelia was about one year old, a 13-year-old boy came into the store to adopt a tarantula. He looked at the many other cages, shaking his head at each one. When he came to Crescelia’s tank, he stopped and squinted his eyes as he smiled. He turned around to face the pet store employee and lightly tapped Crescelia tank. She did not know people came into the store and left with the animals, so she did not know what to expect. Of course she was terrified when her tank was lifted off the rack. The tank shook, wobbled and tipped, forcing Crescelia back and forth across the tank. She staggered and grabbed hold of a random solid object, which just happened to be her little log that she slept under. Where are they taking me? She wondered as she was set down on a counter. Just as she thought it was over, she heard a loud ding, and she was lifted up again.
Crescelia was taken into a medium sized bedroom and was set on the bedside table. She looked around the room. There was a small desk with drawers and a cubic white object on top with a black front, and a rectangular prism shaped thing below. Crescelia did not know this as a computer, but she was very intelligent; not in a sense of knowing what things are, but in a sense of knowing how to do things. You know; like,--problem solving skills.
Crescelia had been eating crickets for her whole life, and certainly did not want them to be her main dish anymore. She was hungry though; hungry enough to eat crickets again. She sighed in her own little way as the meal of the month came hopping into her tank from the boy’s hand. As soon as one cricket came close, Crescelia grabbed it and pierced it with her sharp, black fangs. She did not exactly like to do this, but it was her only food and she needed to eat it in order to survive.
After about three days, the boy set his hand down in the bottom of Crescelia’s tank. At first, she was very afraid of him and scurried under her log to get away from this threat. But after a couple times of like happenings, she actually approached him. She felt his hand and sniffed it, making sure it was safe. She put one of her legs on his hand, wanting to see what he would do. He did not do anything. After she was satisfied, she crawled under her log.
It was a little while before Crescelia grew to trust the boy, but when she finally did; she climbed onto his hand one day when he offered it. It was a new experience to the boy, so he giggled with delight. He lifted her out of the tank and sat down on the bed. Crescelia was relieved when she found out he would not hurt her; she sighed and rested on the back of his hand. Crescelia had very soft fur on her underside so it tickled when it rubbed against the boy’s skin.
After about five minutes, the boy lifted the cover of Crescelia’s tank and put her back inside. She wanted to be held more, but was exhausted from this new experience. She ruffled up the peat moss a bit in the bottom of her tank; she lied down, and fell asleep.
When Crescelia woke up, for some reason, the cover of her tank was off.
Crescelia was very curious, and wanted to explore outside of her tank. With much anticipation, she climbed up the tank wall and down the side of the dresser where her tank was placed, and finally reached the ground. She started toward the door of the boy’s room, not minding to look for landmarks along the way. As she crawled out into the hallway, she wondered, why would anyone need such a long room? She ventured into the first room to her left pondering that nonsense of a question.
As Crescelia came into the room, huge white towering things lay before her. These were the washer and drier. As she wandered under one of them to see what they were, she got caught in a sticky, stringy mess. She paused for a moment, thinking, wait. I know this stuff. I use it to line my burrow. I wonder if there is any other of my kind living here. She crawled out from under the drier and out the door into the hallway.
As Crescelia was about to enter the next room, she spotted a huge monster in her path staring at her. Crescelia stopped in her tracks, too frightened to move. The monster gave a loud hiss, and started to chase her. No! Crescelia thought in terror as she scampered for her life. I can’t run fast! Down the hallway and into the master bedroom they went, until the boy’s mother came into the room and picked up the monster, saying, “Jasper! No clawing at the carpet!” the monster then gave a sheepish “Meow” as it was carried away. Crescelia just missed being stepped on by the boy’s mother.
After Crescelia had seen much of the house, she wanted to go back to her tank. She scurried off down the hallway into the room that she thought was the boy’s room. Once inside, she realized it was not. Must be the other way, she thought as she turned around. She had no luck that way either. Crescelia looked everywhere on the ground floor before she decided she had to climb the stairs to get to the boy’s room. She continued step by step, taking about ten seconds between each one. The traction claws on her feet were slipping on the hard wood.
By the time Crescelia got to the top of the stairs, she was very tired. It was nighttime so she had to find a place to sleep. Just as she was about to lie down under the couch, Crescelia spotted the boy strolling into the kitchen. I have to get his attention! She thought wildly as she scampered off after him. He sat down at the kitchen table and started to read his book. How am I going to reach him now? She pondered. She began to climb one of the legs of the table. Suddenly the boy got up, and walked away. Now what? She got down from the leg, and followed him. The boy paused, scratching his head, and then looked behind him. He gave a startled jolt when he spotted Crescelia, and he stooped down to pick her up. She was relieved that the boy had found her at last. He carried her back into his room and into her tank. Oh. So that’s where it is. Crescelia thought stupidly. I should have known all along! Again, it was the end of the day, and she hadn’t gotten to rest yet. After she was put in her tank, she crawled under her log, sighed (In her own little way), and fell asleep.
One day, when the boy was outside playing with Crescelia, two boys walked over to his house. Now these were not just ordinary boys, they were the kinds that push you around and shove you into your locker at school. The boy did not like these kids, and tried to get away from them, but had no luck. They grabbed him by his collar; letting his feet dangle three feet off the ground, during which, Crescelia was struggling to remain on the boy’s shoulder. Finally, after about ten seconds, Crescelia fell off.
Crescelia tumbled down and down for seemingly forever, until she came to the bottom of this endless shaft.
Pain erupted inside Crescelia’s cephalothorax. She saw flying colors as she staggered, and fell back into the grass.
END OF PART ONE
Crescelia could have died due to the tear that ran along her underside, but she somehow miraculously survived. If she did die, it would be the end of the story, and you wouldn’t have to be told because you would already know. (This is only true if you know that tarantulas do die if they fall from a height greater than three feet and their abdomen or cephalothorax ruptures.) After the boy’s harassment, he started looking for Crescelia in the grass. When he did find her and pick her up, he noticed that she didn't move. The boy ran into his room, set her down inside the tank and ran out.
When Crescelia gained consciousness inside the tank, a man wearing a white lab coat and Woody Allen glasses was observing her. She noticed, during this observation that it hurt to breathe. The man asked something of the boy, which Crescelia could not understand. Suddenly, the boy opened the tank and lifted her out, carefully handing her to the man. He handled her gently as he noticed the tear that Crescelia did not know about. The man shook his head as he set her back into the tank, saying that she would not live.
Days, even months went by and Crescelia was still alive. The man in the white coat did not think she would live this long, he expected her to die within only an hour. She was healing, but very slowly. Crescelia could move better without pain, and she was more energetic.
After about five months, the man in the white coat came back, and was astounded that Crescelia was alive. He examined her and admitted that she was perfectly healthy.
Five years later, the boy brought a male tarantula in, for he became interested in tarantulas and wanted to breed them. Crescelia thought the male tarantula was nice, but she did not like how he was overly productive, meaning he wanted to get things done right away. Within a month of living with each other, Crescelia became pregnant.
Some tarantulas die after they lay their eggs. Crescelia thought, after she was told this by the male, I almost died once, I’m ready to again. The male tarantula was surprised that she was not upset about this frightening news.
Before Crescelia laid her eggs, she made a silky egg sac to keep them warm in. When she was ready, she laid her eggs into this sac and sealed it up. After a few days, she was taking her last few breaths. She turned from the egg sac to look at the boy one last time as her vision started to fade. She died peacefully, while looking at her caretaker fondly.
As time went by, the newly hatched babies needed to be sold. They all were climbing over each other, trying to get out of the confining tank, all except one. This one stayed under the log, comfortable where her mother had lived. All the babies were sold, leaving this one to live with the boy, the only one with an ivory crescent on her back.