The Spider This Morning

It started like any other morning.

(Isn’t that always the way things start?)

My phone was booping out some generic alarm, so I opened my eyes slowly. I could feel the slight crustiness in the corners. (It’s fun to scratch that stuff away.) I reached for my phone in the darkness of my bedroom. I squinted from the bright light of its screen and jabbed the alarm off. The room was cold, so it was a real struggle to simply pull the thick comforter off of myself. I did it anyways and slouched to the bedroom door. My favorite pair of slippers were right there. They were light blue and as soft as the softest bath towel. They also made the most delightful slapping noise whenever I walked on tile.

(I’m fond of shoe noises.)

I went to take off my retainer and brush my teeth. Then I shuffled down the long hallway to the kitchen. Some lights were already on there, but the rest of the house was dark.

As I entered the living room and then turned the corner to the kitchen, I was greeted by my sister, who was busily making coffee for the two of us. I said a sleepy but good-natured hello in return, and then proceeded to wash some of last night’s dishes.

(My sister and her husband are notoriously bad at doing the dishes in a timely fashion, so whenever I stay with them, dish-washing falls to me. I don’t mind because they do most of the cooking in return. I’m not much of a cook.)

Alya has a teacher schedule, and as any fellow teacher will know, you have to wake up early if you’re going to prepare for your day at school properly. Alya always woke up at 5:30 a.m. so that she would have time to lesson plan and walk her dog, Ushi, before school. I had set my alarm to 6 so that I could keep her company. It was pretty hellacious on my sleep schedule since I never compensated by going to sleep early, but hanging out with Alya even a single second more made it all worth it.

After doing the dishes, I knelt down to greet Ushi.

Ushi is an absolute darling of a dog. She’s a large, St. Bernard-Great Pyrenees hybrid whose only objective in life is to get love.

I was thoroughly occupied in helping Ushi achieve that goal when all of a sudden, I heard Alya shout, “Oh my god! Is that real?!”

I looked up at Alya from where I was crouched on the kitchen floor with Ushi. Alya was standing close to the living room while still in the kitchen, and she was staring at the ceiling in disbelief.

I followed her gaze and felt my fists clutch at Ushi’s thick white fur in dismay.

On the ceiling, a spindly, hairy spider held perfectly still.

Alya and I glanced at each other. We both thought the same thing: Fuck. 

(Yes, Alya and I are that close that we know what each other is thinking.)

Alya started to panic. “Oh, what are we going to do? Is it alive? I can’t see it moving. Maybe it’s dead. Where’s the broom?” She said all this in a rush, then went off to find the broom.

I stayed sitting on the floor frozen for a moment, but then I scuttled away on my behind in a hurry, heart thumping unpleasantly. I grabbed Ushi by her neck fur and dragged her with me. She slid along the floor uncomplainingly, unaware of the terror that was unfolding before her.

(I am massively terrified of spiders.)

However, once Alya came back with the broom, Ushi finally realized something was up. She began looking all over the kitchen for whatever was going to get swatted. She even trotted up to the backyard sliding glass door to see if something outside was causing the broom to appear.

She failed to see the nightmare that was still perched on the ceiling.

Alya brought the broom up as if to sweep the spider towards me. “Amanda, get out of the way!”

“Whoa! Not here!” I was standing by the sliding glass door as well. I pointed to a more open space of the kitchen, in the complete opposite direction from me. “Do it there.”

Alya tilted the broom a bit so that its bristles would sweep the spider away from us.

“Are you ready?” A tinge of excitement colored my sister’s tone. I both hated and loved it. That tone meant that she was having fun. I was legitimately concerned. It did bring a certain amount of lightheartedness to the whole situation though.

Before I could properly steel myself, Alya swept the broom in an arcing motion. It hit the spider perfectly, and it plopped onto an empty space of tile floor. It didn’t move.

Reassured of its lifelessness, Alya and I walked up to its body.

And that’s when the fucking thing decided to move.

(Spiders are dicks sometimes.)

Alya and I shrieked bloody murder. The most I could do was scurry backwards and press up against the sliding glass door. Alya started whacking at the spider with the broom like an erratic game of Whack-a-Mole. It’s like the broom was a hoe, and she was furiously pounding the earth.

Unfortunately, the broom’s bristles did not carry enough pressure to properly smush the beastly spider. I think I saw its body bounce a bit, but it was still very much alive throughout all of Alya’s broom attacks.

Ushi just stared with her tail wagging as her owner brought the broom up and down on the floor.

Alya eventually stopped to check her work. The spider was not moving as much as before, but its legs were twitching. “I need a chancla,” Alya declared.

She had a pair of flip-flops by the sliding glass door. I reached for one slowly, making none of my movements too forceful.

(Everyone knows that spiders can only see you if you move.)

I tossed Alya the sandal, and she caught it with one hand. The other hand still held the broom at the ready.

Ushi’s attention was riveted by the sandal, as if she thought she was supposed to catch it. She completely ignored the eight-legged monster on the floor.

With one expert motion born from years of swatting flies and mosquitoes, Alya brought the chancla down. We both let out one final shriek as it made its impact on the spider and the kitchen floor with a sharp slap.

When Alya pulled back the chancla, the unmoving body of the spider was all that remained.

It had tried that trick on us once before, so we approached it more cautiously the second time around. Upon further inspection, it was clear that the spider was crushed, defeated.

Alya and I sighed with relief and started laughing at our own silliness. Using a napkin, she picked up the spider and tossed it in the trash.

(I am so freaked out by spiders, I will not touch them even when they’re dead.)

We continued on with our morning, a little exhilarated by the thrill of adventure from the spider-killing.

After all that excitement, Ushi lay down right where the spider had met its doom and took a nap.

Big Dog, Small Bird

My sister, Alya, owns a dog named Ushi (pronounced OO-shee). Alya got her when she was a cute little puppy. She is the most adorable creature I’ve ever met (excluding Froley) and she really deserves her own post (which I may write in the future).

Ushi on the grass

Ushi is a giant dog, part St. Bernard, part Great Pyrenees. If you’re familiar with those breeds, you know that Ushi is massive.

Ushi and I lying on the floor

However, since my sister owns two birds and a tortoise in addition to her big puppy, Ushi has learned to be really gentle with small creatures. My sister’s birds, unfortunately, haven’t taken to Ushi despite her calm-giant demeanor. And the tortoise really just minds his own business.

Froley likes Ushi though.

You wouldn’t think that the ornery Froley who only likes particular people at particular moments would become fond of the large, goofy Ushi.

But for some reason, he’s devotedly tolerant of her.

Ushi and the birds

Whenever Froley and I spend the night at my sister’s, he’ll always wake up in a fantastic mood. He’ll waddle up to Ushi in the morning and start chirping sweet nothings to her wet, black nose. His wings will be semi-lifted in a heart-shaped position, his head tilted as close to her as he can get.

As he twitters at her, Ushi will sniff him once then look away, as if she’s embarrassed by his attentions. (For all we know, she is.)

Froley is the best judge of character (except for when he’s feeling grumpy), so I take his affection for her to be a confirmation of Ushi’s kind nature. Ushi is a sweet puppers, the sweetest, most loving dog I’ve ever had the pleasure to have met.

Alya raised Ushi with care. Just like people think that dogs are proof that God loves us, Ushi thinks people are proof that God loves her. Her face whenever a person is petting her reveals pure bliss. She honestly prefers humans to other dogs.

Despite being a bit of a goof (she’s not overly intelligent sometimes), she’s surprisingly gentle. Of course, there are times when she’s accidentally rough with her enthusiastic affections. (She doesn’t know her own size.)

Ushi and me taking a selfie

I cannot stress enough how much my sister has to do with Ushi’s sweetness. Both my sister and I wanted a dog for as long as I can remember. I ended up taking the bird path (the path less flown), but Alya actually followed her childhood dream and got herself a dog.

Alya once told me how she learned that birthday wishes (blowing out the candles on your cake and making a wish) aren’t real. She said for every childhood birthday she had, she would wish her hardest for a dog, desperately pleading to whatever higher power there was to grant her wish for a slobbery companion. But none came.

Well, Alya, I’d say that every birthday wish you made coalesced and formed Ushi. Just as Froley, the persnickety bird with old-man ways, is my soul pet, Ushi is yours.

You just had to wait a little bit. (Patience, Iago.)

So here’s to our pets!

Me and Froley, Ushi and Alya