The Spider

Despite all that chatter about staying stuck in widowhood, or perhaps because of it, I have been attempting to write about Arron for the new book I hope to write. Oddly, I am finding this infinitely difficult to do and keep finding ways of distracting myself, so I don’t write. Paying bills, walking the puppy, cleaning junk drawers. I think over nine plus years, I have slowly disengaged myself from Arron in such a way that he has become more of an idea than an actual person, if that makes any sense.

I wrote a while back about some dreams I had of him, dreams that I divorced him. I believe it was part of the process of moving beyond him, of truly opening myself to the possibility of someone new, or of being alone. Subconsciously, I put Arron away in a box. And now, in trying to write about him, I am attempting to take him out of the box, something I am apparently loathe to do. Oddly, I find my resistance comforting. It makes me feel like perhaps I am not hanging on quite as tightly as I worry I do, that I am freer of him that I thought.

I feel happy when I think of him, smile at memories, but rarely do I break down in snot-producing sobs anymore. I feel proud about that. No longer do I feel guilty for it. But it’s playing havoc trying to get this chapter written. It’s a chapter that’s meant to simply give background, allow the reader to understand where I came from, who Arron was, what was lost with his death.

But as I go kicking and screaming into writing this chapter, something fun is happening. I am having to remember how he spoke, in order to write the dialogue. I wrote a funny little story and as I got to the end, I remembered when we first met, he used to call me “Darlin’.” It made me happy to recapture this tiny detail, this nuance – the kind of nuance about him that has alluded me all these years. A word, A look, A smile. Maybe letting Arron out of his box won’t be so bad after all.

A vignette of the summer we met when was 21 and he was 24:

The Spider

“Ab, come and check out this spider. It’s huge!”  He was peering into the darkness through the small, cobwebby, square window in the front door. I got up from the couch to take a look.

“But whatever you do,” he said, “don’t step on my foot.”

Arron’s foot was heavily bandaged. We had spent the last few hours in the Campbellford Memorial Hospital near his cottage on Round Lake after he’d stepped on something sharp on the bottom of the lake. His foot had taken ten stiches to sew up. He’d been lying on the monstrous couch with his foot propped up with pillows that spilled across my lap, as I read. As usual, he couldn’t sit still for long and got up, restless, hobbling around the cabin, eventually making his way to the front door.

He had taken me to his cottage a couple of times that summer, one place where we could be alone, with no parents sitting in the next room. It was a small cabin, with two small bedrooms, one of which had become our love nest as we discovered each other’s bodies – his long and tanned, stomach flat, knees knobby. I savoured the smoothness of his bare chest as I explored, the roundness of his “buttocks,” his word. After languishing in bed we would wake up and trod around the cabin naked, playing house – making breakfast on the gigantic turquoise 50s stove that felt like driving an old car, pulling ingredients out of the matching fridge that smelled moldy despite being left open and unplugged for most of the time. I felt a freedom, a sexiness in myself I had never experienced before. To prance around naked in front of a man, so casually, so openly was new to me. Oddly, I felt more confident when naked with him than clothed. He would walk up behind me as I scrambled the eggs and grab fistfuls of my ample bum and say, “I love this ass!” Naked, I felt adored. Clothed, I felt like a little girl. Something about being with him still made me nervous, even now, after almost three months together. I was constantly bumping into him, stepping on his foot, tripping as we walked together. He had me off-kilter in a way I had never experienced before. He saw me then as a child – four years younger, inexperienced, naive. He was street smart, cocky, sure of himself, and in some respects, a player. An older woman had recently asked him to be the father of her child, for no other reason than she was getting too old to wait to get married, and Arron possessed qualities that I could see would be attractive in a father – was smart, funny, tall and good looking. He declined. He had no desire for children.

Arron at Round Lake, Summer 1986
Arron at Round Lake, Summer 1986

“If I ever get married,” he told me on one of those mornings, we ate our bacon and eggs sitting in the kitchen nook on the old church pews and listened to The Eagles on the eight-track, “it won’t be until I am at least 40. And I will never have kids. There are too many people in the world as it is.” It wasn’t as if I wanted to get married any time soon, but I wanted to know where I stood in a relationship, to know that what I had with someone was mutually exclusive. I didn’t think that kind of security was possible with Arron, I didn’t think that he would ever see me as anything more than a kid with a grope able ass.

I would be heading back to University in a few weeks, and I knew that when I left, I would have to put him into my “friend” box, knowing that he would want to date other women. I couldn’t blame him. I wanted the same freedom. I liked Arron a lot, but he wasn’t the long-term type.

He continued to watch the spider. I approached carefully, telling myself over and over, to not step on his foot. I tried to peer over his shoulder, but he was too tall, and he turned, just as I was maneuvering myself to be beside him, I did it. I stepped on his bandaged foot.

“Fuck! I can’t believe you just did that!” He was hopping on one foot now towards the couch.

“Oh, God! I’m so sorry Arron. I can’t believe I just did that. I’m such a clutz.”

“Goddamn it! Christ!” He flung himself down onto the couch, gathering his foot into his hands to take a look.

“I’m so sorry.”

“What the hell is wrong with you?”

“You make me nervous, I guess.” I was near tears.

“You’re gonna have to get over that,” he said, looking up from his foot, angry, but with a hint of amusement on his face. “You’re a freakin liability, darlin’.”

6 Comments

  1. Candace Walsh January 31, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    I’ve been procrastinating like mad, too, and am finally settling into the meat of writing this book. I really like your details, what you evoke. Thank you for sharing the vignette.

    1. Abigail - Site Author January 31, 2011 at 7:12 pm

      Thanks Candace. So glad you liked it. Procrastination is the writer’s kryptonite. Sheesh.

  2. Teresa Luttrell January 31, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    I love this piece, Abby. And relate to it. At 50. I never expected to feel adored when naked at 50, but I do and am. It’s astonishing and wonderful, and I too am ‘off-kilter’.

  3. annie January 31, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Very nice story. Well done. Procrastination can mean a lot of things though but for writers, it’s about avoiding the actual work. Writing – well – is work. I realized recently that it’s been close to 8 years since Will and I interacted and he is not real anymore either. Odd and, in it’s own way, a relief. imo reluctance to look back, stop and try to bring it all into focus is a good thing. Memories should be hazy.That way they are more open to embellishment.

  4. Meredith February 1, 2011 at 11:34 am

    I am 9 months out and I feel like I have put Chris in a box. Well my brain has. I think I wouldn’t survive otherwise.

    I hope he comes back someday, so that I can remember our history with this detail.

    Beautiful story.

  5. lynne February 7, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    the clarity is just lovely!

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