The Spider and the Dove

May 1, 2012
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She sat alone, underneath a blackened dead tree in a blackened forest extending as far as the eye can see. Her unwashed hair stuck to her dirty, sweaty face, and her once white dress was now nearly black with accumulated grime and filth. She gleefully picked at the dirt between her toes, her eyes wide, with an unnerving, insane smile as a spider danced back and forth on her shoulder, whispering sweetly in her ear.

She couldn't remember a time when she had not been in the forest. For all she knew, she had been in the forest forever, since the beginning of time, laughing and talking with the spider. She knew nothing else, and had no desire to know anything else. She loved the spider. The spider loved her. That was all that mattered.

Until one day, a strange light appeared in the trees, just beyond her line of vision. She turned away with a hiss, eyes throbbing with pain, and a hatred for the light she could not explain exploded in her chest. The light had never been there before; in fact, there had never been any light except a dreary gray light that seeped down from somewhere above the trees. She didn't even have a name for what she was seeing.

"What is that?" she snarled through her teeth at the spider.

The spider skittered back and forth on her shoulder. "It is light. It is something to be hated and to be feared. It will destroy you, my pet. It will tear you away from me."

"Then get rid of it!"

"I cannot," the spider crooned. "You are the only one you can destroy it, who can drive it from our perfect forest. Do not fear, my darling. I will be at your side. I will help you to combat its lies and I will not allow it to harm you."

She squinted at the light for barely a second before she had to turn her head away again. "It hurts, spider!" she screamed. "Make it go away!"

"I cannot," the spider repeated. "You must be strong for me, my dear. It will want to take you away from me."

"But I don't want to leave you!" the girl sobbed.

"Nor do I want you to leave me," he soothed. "The light will try to trick you, it will lie to you to get you to leave. Promise me you will stay strong!"

"I promise, spider!" she cried softly to the creature. "You hear that, you thing!" she shouted at the light. "You will not take me away from my spider." The light hovered in the trees for a moment before fading away, as if it was moving into a further part of the forest. She grinned.

"Hah!" she cried. "That wasn't so hard! Nothing is going to take me from you."

"The light will be back, my sweet," the spider crooned. "It will grow in strength and cunning, and it will try everything to convince you to leave with it and abandon me. But it does not have the power to take you by force. Do not listen to its lies, and you will remain with me here forever."

"I would like that very much." The girl grinned, her eyes staring wide at the spider in happiness.

“Now put the light as far from your mind as possible. We do not need thoughts of it when it isn’t actually here. That will only give it further strength in your heart.”

But as time went on, the girl couldn’t turn her thoughts from the light. She still hated it, of course, but she was also intrigued. How could it think that it could ever tear her and the spider apart? Why would it want to? And why couldn’t the spider do anything about it?

The spider noticed she was distressed by her thoughts, and knew what she was thinking.

“I told you to put the light out of your mind!” he shouted. “I will not have it wielding its power when it is not here.”

“I can’t help it, spider. It just keeps pulling at my thoughts, I can’t stop it!” She started to cry. The spider had never shouted at her before.

Just then, she heard a flapping of wings, and looked up from the spider. She saw a dove, although she didn’t know it was a dove, fluttering in the treetops. She watched as it slowly descended, coming to rest on her other shoulder. She stared at it, unable to tear her eyes away.

The spider, frantic, began to scream, “Look away! Look away! It is the light!! It has come to destroy you!”

“I am not here to destroy you,” the dove said softly. “I am here to give you life, to take you to a place where you belong.”

“I belong here!” she screamed. “I have always belonged here, and I will always belong here!”

“Yes!” cried the spider. “Stay strong for me!”

The dove glared at the spider. “Stay strong for you? Can she not stay strong for herself?”

The spider cowered away. “Yes, my dear! Stay strong for yourself! Stay here with me!”

“Do you have a name?” the dove asked the girl.

“No,” she responded slowly. “What is that?”

“Do not speak to the light!” the spider bellowed, his eight eyes bulging. “It is tricking you!”

“I am not the one deceiving her, spider,” the dove snapped. “You have not even had the decency to give her a name. She is just another in a long line of your slaves.”

“Is that true?” the girl asked, twisting her head around to look at the spider. She was shocked to see that the spider had grown to more than twice its size.

“No! Have you forgotten your love for me so quickly?”

“Love is only love if it is chosen. What has she had to chose between?” the dove reasoned.

“Please, be quiet! Both of you!!” The poor girl was completely confused, and hid her head between her knees.

The dove whispered quietly in her ear. “I am giving you a choice. You can stay here with the spider, who has lied to you your entre life, or you can come with me, and I will give you a name and joy, the likes of which you have ever known.”

“No!” she yelled. “You are tricking me! You are taking me from my spider!”

“He is not your spider. You belong to him. He is the one tricking you into staying with him. But you do not have to, if you do not wish to. All I am offering is a better life, a life in the light instead of in this forest.”

“There is nothing else! The forest is all there is!”

“Who told you that?” the dove asked.

“The spider,” she responded. She realized that the spider had been silent for some time. She lifted her head, and was shocked to see that he was no longer on her shoulder, and he was no longer tiny. His head loomed twenty, thirty feet above her, his legs stretching out so far they disappeared among the trees.

“The forest is all there is,” he said. “I can see everything, and there is nothing out there for you to leave to. You abandon me, and you will be lost forever. I will not take you back.”

The girl looked frantically between the spider above her and the dove on her shoulder.

“Do you trust me?” the dove asked simply.

“No,” the girl whimpered, but she didn’t sound completely convinced.

“Do you want to trust me?” the dove said.

The girl looked back up at the spider in fear, and realized that he had nothing to offer her. She truly was his slave, and she didn’t want it anymore.

“Yes. I want to trust you.”

“Then follow me.” The dove stretched out his wings and flapped to a nearby branch.

The girl stood. Her legs were weak, and she couldn’t remember a time when she hadn’t been sitting under the tree. She gripped the tree for support, but didn’t take her eyes off the bird.

“No!” The spider shouted, and it echoed across the forest. “You leave me, and I will not take you back!”

“I do not want you to take me back!” she screamed, and the spider looked down at her in shock. “You lied to me! You never loved me!” She didn’t know how she knew this, but she felt it was true deep in her heart.

“The light is lying to you! Not me!”

“LIAR!” she screamed, and she hobbled over to the tree the dove had landed in.

Once she reached it, the bird hopped onto a tree next to it, and she followed it there. With each step, her legs grew stronger, and she followed the dove as it moved from tree to tree, allowing her to keep it in her sights. She could sense the spider following close behind, but it didn’t dare to speak another word.

On and on they moved, until the girl thought she saw a glimmer of light beyond the trees. She looked hopefully at the dove, and she could tell the dove was smiling kindly. She moved from tree to tree, picking up speed as the light grew brighter and brighter until she stumbled onto a sandy beach. She was blinded by the sudden intensity of the light, and the dove soared down to protect her eyes with his wings. When her eyes became accustomed, the dove took off and flew out in front of her.

“What do you think?” the dove shouted happily.

The girl looked on the most beautiful sight she had ever seen. Crystal clear water stretched out in front of her, lapping at the golden sand beneath her feet. An orb of light hung in the sky above her, so bright she couldn’t bear to look at it, but this time, she didn’t hate it.

“It beautiful,” she called to the dove, who was flying in loops and circles above the water.

“Join me!” he cried, and with that, dived into the water.

She hesitated. It looked deep, and she didn’t know how to swim. She didn’t even know how she knew what swimming was, but she knew she didn’t know how to do it.

The spider, who loomed behind her, spoke up. “You see? He is trying to kill you. You would never survive. Come back with me, where you are safe.”

“No. I will never go with you. You told me there was nothing but forest. What is this?” she pointed at the expanse of water.

“It is dangerous! I was protecting you from it!”

“No,” she repeated. “I don’t believe you. You knew that if I saw there was more than just the forest, I would leave you. That is not love.” She turned, took a deep breath, and stepped into the water.

“NO!!!” the spider screamed, and lunged one great leg out to her, but as soon as it touched the water, he cried out in terrible pain and pulled it back. “NO! This cannot be!”

The water lapped around her legs, immediately washing away the dirt from her skin. The further she walked, the higher the water came, and more and more dirt came away. When it reached her gown, the fabric changed back to a brilliant white, white as the dove. Turning around, she saw that the grime was slowly moving toward the shore, seeping into the sand until it was no more. The spider was staring right at her.

“You have no more power over me!” she cried. “Leave me!”

The spider began to shrink back into the shadows of the forest.

“Farewell, my spider!” she called, grinning and waving. “Farewell! I have found a life better than you, and I realize the love we had for each other was never real! Farewell!”

The spider vanished into the trees.

Suddenly, she felt something brush her leg, and looked down to see a fish, whiter than even the dove had been. It surfaced, and said to her, “Would you like your name, now?”

“Oh, yes!” she said.

“Your name is now Christina,” it said, and his voice was that of the doves. The girl smiled, repeating the name softly to herself. “Christina, Christina, Christina.”

The fish began to grow, larger and larger, until it was the size of a whale. “Climb on,” it said, and she did, gripping its dorsal fin with all her might. The fish took off, tearing through the water, diving down deep to wash Christina completely of the life she had left behind, and swimming further from the forest, closer to the new life the she deserved.

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