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TO LET A MOCKINGBIRD LIVE and its Sequel
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.
In the previous story, the main character was a Chilean Rose Tarantula named Crescelia. The name of the family that owned Crescelia was never mentioned. The tarantula’s full name was Crescelia Franc de Jacquesfranschwab Champollione. Crescelia’s daughter was given a German name instead of a French name for some unknown reason. It was Zelindah von Abelschriemenamphelheimer.
Zelindah lived in the same tank that her mother had lived in, with the same log, but the peat moss was changed out. Zelindah had excellent eyesight, for her eyes were larger than any other known tarantula. Her center two eyes were about a centimeter in diameter, and her two peripheral eyes were about a quarter of a centimeter. She probably inherited these amazing eyes from her father, who had the genes of an Ornate Jumping Spider.
One day, the boy (who was not so much of a boy anymore) and his parents decided to move out of the house that they were currently living in. While they were still in the old house the boy came into his room and Zelindah sensed something was not the same. The boy did not seem very happy, as he started to pack up his belongings into boxes. After every other object had been taken off the bedside table, the boy picked up the tank. Where are we going? Zelindah wanted to ask. But alas, she could not, for she had no vocal abilities. The only sounds she could make were little clicking noises, almost like tiny bells, when she was startled. A moving man placed Zelindah’s home into a large truck with the rest of the contents of the house. It looked like things were about to change.
After everything was loaded into the truck, it started up.
After about an hour on the road, the family decided to sing a road song to cheer the boy up. From the back of the truck, Zelindah could hear the family singing. “Ist Das nicht ein Schnitzelbank?” “Ja das Ist eine Schnitzelbank!” “Ist Das nicht ein Kurz und Lang?” “Ja das Ist eine Kurz und Lang!” “Kurz und Lang, Schnitzelbank; Ei, du schöner, ei, du schöner, ei, du schöner Schnitzelbank!” Zelindah could not understand English, and could definitely not understand this German song. In their light-hearted and jovial spirits the family did not notice that the back of the truck had opened.
The family was driving on a dirt road so it was quite bumpy. Zelindah’s tank started sliding more toward the rear. No! This can’t be happening! She thought wildly as she tried to keep the tank from sliding, but from inside the tank, it didn’t help very much. With much despair in her heart, Zelindah’s tank tumbled off the back edge of the truck.
As the tank fell, Zelindah seemed to float freely in midair until her refuge and safe haven hit the ground and shattered. Glass flew everywhere. Zelindah just missed being cut by a large, jagged piece. She was saved from sure death on landing by the peat moss that originally padded her floor and was now a cushion of protection on impact. The family was oblivious to these events so continued to drive.
Zelindah’s tank was completely destroyed. She had no choice but to gulp down the water that was left in the dish, leave her mother’s home, and crawl in the direction that the truck was headed. The road was the only sign of civilization in this barren, desert land, so Zelindah chose to follow it.
By nighttime, Zelindah had to find something to eat and a place to sleep. She hadn’t had a meal for a couple of weeks, so she was very hungry. After the sun went down, Zelindah heard some crickets starting to chirp nearby. She crept up behind one, careful not to make a sound, because the cricket would stop chirping and Zelindah would not know where it was. As soon as she came close enough, Zelindah grabbed the cricket and held it firmly so it would not get away. She looked into its eyes for a second, as if to say, I’m sorry I have to do this. I wish I didn’t need to kill living things for food. This will only hurt a little bit. After this, Zelindah paralyzed the cricket, waited until it was fully unconscious so it would not feel pain, and ingested the insides.
Zelindah found a soft bed of dirt under a bush, so she decided she would stay there for the night. There was no way that she would be able to catch up to the truck, so she supposed she would take her time. In the morning, Zelindah started off down the road right away. By the mid afternoon, she was parched. It seemed as if there was no water for miles. But then, Zelindah climbed up a hill, and when she got to the top, a creek! She crawled down the hill toward the river of gold, until she got to the bank. It was about ten feet down from the edge of land Zelindah was standing on to the edge of the water.
Zelindah looked down, and the height made her dizzy. She gently lowered herself down onto the closest ledge to the top of the bank. Suddenly, the dry dirt crumbled beneath her, and she automatically grabbed hold of a projecting root. Zelindah dangled there for a couple of seconds, until she managed to lower herself down onto the next ledge.
There was a small cliff about ten feet tall that Zelindah was climbing down, but there was no cliff on the other side of the creek. The road ran into a ramp that went across the creek and turned back into road on the other side. In other words, after Zelindah would cross the river, she would not have to climb another cliff on the other side.
As soon as Zelindah reached the bottom of the cliff, she zoomed toward the edge of the water. As she sipped the clear, cold liquid, it seemed to flow through her body, to nourish the parts that were aching. After she drank her fill, Zelindah had to find a way to cross the river.
There was an old piece of press wood near the cliff, and after about five minutes of pushing, Zelindah managed to get it to the edge of the water. She hopped on, and pushed off the edge of the creek. The board floated downstream more than it floated across the river, and by the time Zelindah was across to the other bank, she was about a hundred feet away from the road. It took her until it was dark out to reach the road and begin traveling again.
Zelindah had ventured into a small village, in the middle of nowhere. When she entered this town, she noticed that no one was around. Finally, when she came to about the center of the village, she noticed a mother and her 5-year-old daughter strolling down the dirt shoulder of the road. Zelindah approached them cautiously, for she did not trust them. As she crawled in front of the mother, trying to get her attention, the mother gasped and uttered a soft “Uh”, as she passed out on the ground.
Zelindah was confused. What happened? She wondered. Is she all right? She crawled over to the daughter as if to ask that question. The daughter stooped down and held her hand out while she said “Hi thewe”. As Zelindah approached, she hesitated, thinking Wait. She might drop me, and I definitely do not want that to happen. Even though she considered this, Zelindah trusted the girl enough to crawl onto her hand as the girl said, “Come wif me”.
Zelindah was taken into a large room with wood paneling and a table. The girl then allowed her onto this table, as she sat down and started drawing something on a piece of paper. After she was done, the paper looked like this:
She’s abowt thwee quortewes of an inch tall, wif a big wite moon on huw back. If she is youws, send me a telegwaff message at 3667.
After this, the girl took the paper outside to hang up on the telegraph pole, for this was such a small town that they did not even need telephones. She left Zelindah inside on the table. When the girl came back, Zelindah was asleep. The girl made a little house out of a cardboard box for Zelindah to sleep in, and she carefully (as carefully as 5-year-olds can get) picked up Zelindah and put her inside.
5 seconds after the girl had put Zelindah in the cardboard box; her mother arrived at the door. The girl quickly grabbed the box and hid it in her room. “Honey!” her mother exclaimed. “You made it home ok. That thing didn’t kill you, did it?” She asked. “No mommy.” The girl replied.
Finally, 6:30 came and it was time for the girl to go to bed. After the girl’s mother had left the room, the girl waited for a few minutes and then tiptoed upstairs. She got a piece of apple out of the refrigerator, and brought it down to Zelindah. Zelindah had been asleep since she was left on the table, for she had had a long day. When she woke up and looked at the food, she thought, finally! I get to eat something that isn’t meat! As Zelindah nibbled at the apple, she thought about how she missed the boy.
The following day, the girl was in her room with Zelindah’s box in the middle of the floor. Suddenly, the girl’s mother burst into the room, and when she saw Zelindah in the box, her eyes widened to the size of dinner plates. She screamed, “That thing!” and grabbed her daughter and pulled her away from Zelindah. She ran out of the room, and started lecturing her daughter in the farthest room from where Zelindah was. “But mommy, she was lost!” the daughter was saying. “I don’t care if it was lost or not. A hideous monster like that would be better off dead!” The mother exclaimed. “You just hurt her feelings!” The girl cried. The mother replied, “Things like that don’t have feelings.”
Afterward, the mother came charging into the room where Zelindah was with a broom. Zelindah got up immediately, and ran in the direction she knew was opposite of the broom. The broom came crashing down right behind her, and this made her run even faster.
Zelindah ran through the hallway and out the door, onto the sunlit lawn. Behind her, the mother was waving the broom and shouting, “And don’t come back!” After Zelindah had crossed the road and caught her breath, she saw her family’s truck rolling toward her on the dirt road.
Zelindah almost jumped for joy at the sight of her family, who stopped the truck. The boy opened the door, and started walking toward Zelindah. He stooped down to pick her up, and carried her back to the truck. The family started the engine, and headed to their new home where a new tank awaited Zelindah.