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The Spider That Lived Inside of Me
It happened the summer when I was nine. My Girl Scout troop, our leader Mrs. Beaver, and I went to Camp Hoover up in northern New Jersey for three days. Never too much of an outdoors child, I was happy to have the opportunity to finally immerse myself in a different surrounding, and get over my fear of dirt, bears, bees, snakes, and all that other scary stuff one would find at a campsite. I knew the adventure would change my view of the outdoors and stuff, but never did I imagine it could change the way my body functions. Yet, it did. Since I went away that weekend when I was nine, I was no longer alone inside my skin.
It was our second night there and I was having the time of my life. After spending the day hiking and challenging each other on the ropes course, we were sitting around the fire roasting marshmallows and singing those corny campfire songs. I had long, think, untamed hair at the time, and it seemed to always be in my face. I felt a couple strands clinging to the spot where my cheek meets my chin, and originally thought nothing of it, too lazy to put my hair up in a ponytail. Finally, it started to annoy me, so I used the back of my hand to swiftly brush it away. Only, when I looked at my hand, I realized it was not hair that I brushed away, rather it was a spider: a daddy long-leg. The spider was just as big as my puny, pale hand which it had now begun to crawl upon. I screamed, interrupting the chorus of Kumbaya, and shaking my arm vigorously until the spider was flung off of me and onto the log I was sitting on, quickly taking refuge underneath. No one thought anything of the incident, with Mrs. Beaver saying it was just a bug and all, and so, everyone continued on with their night. At first I did not think much of it either, besides total disgust, and a heightened awareness of the bugs on the ground and the dirt making green waves underneath my finger nails. However, the next morning I woke up knowing something had changed. When my uncle picked me up after the bus ride, he immediately asked, “What is that red mark on your chin?”
At first, I did not know what he was talking about. Then, remembering the incident, I told him what had happened last night at the campfire. He told me the spider must have bit me. I look at my chin closely in the side mirror of his pickup truck, noticing two black dots, surrounded by a mass of red.
When I got home, I decided to play a joke on my parents. I showed them the spider bite and then told them that it had turned me into Spider-man, while I pretended to shoot webs out of my hands and dart around the room. They laughed, not even one bit concerned with my medical infringement, because Mrs. Beaver had sent home a note saying it was just a harmless spider, and I went on with my charade, unaware that there were no two pulses coming from under my skin, rather than just one.
Ever since that camping trip, strange things started happening to me. At first, I never realized a connection, probably because I was so young. They were subtle, like rashes, and losing the vision in one of my eyes for a couple of minutes at a time. My mother, convinced I was a hypochondriac, and refusing to spend extra money on doctor visits, never took much notice. Because of her downplaying the seriousness of the matter, I figured it was nothing serious, just allergies and stuff.
Around my freshman year of high school I started getting sharp, biting pains in my head, to the point that I would not be able to do anything for hours at a time. I passed out in two different classes that year. I was constantly dizzy, I would see flashing lights, hear ringing sounds in my ears, have twitches and muscle spasms, not be able to concentrate, etc. For a while, my doctor thought I was some form of epileptic, but when they did an EEG, the results were negative. Then, he figured it must be something else wrong with my brain, so I had an MRI of my entire head, neck, and spine. Nothing, not a damn thing. I was as healthy as a horse they said. The doctor said it must just be migraines, so he prescribed some headache medicine, and that was it. Things kept getting worse and worse, but with the test results showing that nothing was wrong, everyone figured I was just trying to get attention and stopped caring.
A couple years later, I woke up one morning with a large cut I had never seen before in my life slicing across my hand. It was a thick, bright red, slightly curved, diagonal line stretching from my wrist to the spot where my thumb begins. The throbbing pulse of the slash soon quickened and blood starting gushing out in chunky, concentrated clots. Only it was not just blood, there was a small tracing of a black liquid running through it as well. As I stared at my hand, the cut started opening up bigger and bigger like a mother’s reproductive organs in labor, and soon enough, that huge daddy long-leg spider from eight years ago, birthed its way out and onto the surface.
At first, I looked at the spider in delight, pleased that I was having such an exciting dream. Then, when I realized it was reality, naturally, I screamed. I immediately trapped the spider in an old pickle jar I found in the recyclables and washed all the blood off of my inflamed hand with soap and water. When I regained my composure, I pressed my nose up against the jar and stared at the spider, still not able to make any sense of the situation. Out of the blue, the spider spoke to me, his voice low and raspy like a sweet, old man. He told me he just wanted a place to live, which is why he bit me eight years ago, with hopes of getting inside to make a home. When that failed, he crawled in through my mouth and down my throat while I was asleep in our tent that night. Suddenly, it all made sense to me. The rashes were him digging under my skin, the loss of sight was him snaking on a piece of my eyeball, the twitches were him jumping from place to place, and the headaches were him carving a passageway through the middle of my brain so he could more easily get from side to side.
Although I soon began to feel sorry for the little thing, I had to tell him that he had outgrown his welcome and could no longer live inside of me, for he was messing with my health. I brought him back to Camp Hoover so he could find another little Girl Scout with ratty hair to build his home inside of. Now, all I have left of him is the scar on my hand. On my eighteenth birthday I got a tattoo of a large spider web on my forearm, so that if he ever comes back, he could live outside of me, on my surface, rather than underneath it.
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Boredom instigates extreme creativity.
"Bowing gratefully to all of my subjects, 'thank you. Thank you. The pleasure is mine." Nah, I'm just kidding. We're all kings together.'"
Interesting, this is a very unique idea, though I muct admit that it grossed me out ;)
On another note, there's an advertisement for a SymptomFind on rashes below this article, I thought that was funny :)