SPIDER BRAINS by Susan Wingate

After much thinking, the decision is made… the publisher, Roberts Press wants me to post SPIDER BRAINS, chapter-by-chapter on my blog. What will happen is anyone’s guess. My hope is that you will enjoy reading this story as much as I did writing it.

The eBook will be released before the paperback which is scheduled for May 15, 2012. I hear the eBook will be out either the middle or end of March.

So, without further adieu…

SPIDER BRAINS

 

the itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout
down came the rain and washed the spider out
out came the sun and dried up all the rain
and the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the spout again

clip_image002

 ONE – Speider: The “E” is Silent

Me?

Super human kid by night, regular high school teenager by day. I’m a junior. Well, next year.

My name is Susie Speider. The E is silent. My name is NOT pronounced speeder. For crying out loud. We are not a family of racers. Sheesh.

My problem? There are two major-stager problems in my life. My meds, for starters. They say I’m ADD. Yeah. Like, so, I concentrate on the moment du jour. What’s wrong with that?

Then, there’s the issue with my grades. They suck. And, my teacher, Ms. Morlson. She hates my guts! She holds my going or not going to the U in the palm of her cold calloused clammy hands.

clip_image004(This  is a pic of me. The QUEEN of dorks). But, with the new glasses my mom got me and my new meds, maybe I can improve over the next two years enough to bring my grades up to pass with something decent.

The problem? With these new glasses now I look like a short amorphous geeky version of the svelte coolamundo Morticia from the Addam’s Family but not in a good way and certainly not with her way cool clingy clothes. Plus, with my braces, lord, I look like the empress of geeks on planet Nerd-O-1.

As mom says my glasses might allow me grades, “good enough to get you into at least one of the state’s colleges.” She said colleges but I knew she meant universities.

Mom didn’t go to college so she thinks any grade higher than high school senior is college. I suppose she’s right to some extent but there are those, you know, who might argue.

Sooo.

I’m trying out new words right now, new catch-phrases, like “fierce” and “sick,” and like “rad.” Rad is just a shortened word for radical. I’m thinking of shortening the word amazing to “am” or “azin’” but worry that people might mistake me for a Cockney gal talking about small wrinkly fruit. That would be lame.

See, though, and this is pretty astonishing, the editor of the school newspaper, she’s a senior her name is Tanya (not pronounced Tŏnya but Tănya), well, I sort of think she understands me. I think. I mean, ’cause, whenever I see her, I give her an installment of a very unique and unusual, weird word. I find them on this way cool website called, BrownieLocks. Anywho. She treats me okay. She takes my words, anyway, and sometimes they show up in the paper.

Of course, no one will want to use any of the words I make up.

I’m not cool. Only cool kids make up catch-phrases like sick.

I’m a nerd and not even the good kind. My grades suck. So, I guess, that makes me more of a dork.

Pathetic.

I have a pussy, a pussy-cat. And, yes, I say pussy so Get Over It!

Most of my girlfriends have pussies, well, two of them. Anyway, the only two girlfriends I have in the whole entire world who go Ronkonkoma High, Ricki and Jamie. The only bad thing about Ronkonkoma High School, well other than the mascot (the Roc), the pep clubbers ( the Roc-kers), all the popular kids, the loadies, the boys who somehow believe they magically lived in Tombstone during their gestation period and came out cowboys, the principle, and Ms. Morlson. Well, the only bad thing other than those bad things is that Ronkonkoma High sits only a block or so past the cemetery and the cemetery sits a block or so past my house.

I hate the cemetery. I used to walk by it. No prob.

Anymore? Not so much. Now, I go the long way.

Mine is named Delilah. My cat!? My pussy cat!? ‘Member?

Ricki’s is Joe.

Dweeb. Plus, Joe is a girl. Dweeb squared.

Jamie’s is Sasha. A more pussy-like name. If. Ever.

Ricki’s name is really Ricki but Jamie’s is not. Jamie’s real name is Jane because of some freakish love affair Jane’s mother and father have for Tarzan. They have every kind of Tarzan story, poster, old movie playbill, Tarzan dolls (still in their packaging for better return on their dollars! OMG), and Tarzan sidekicks too, like Boy and Cheetah. It’s totally dorky. Although, I must admit, Cheetah is pretty cool.

So, Jane, who I’ve known since Ronkonkoma Elementary and then Ronkonkoma Middle School and now Ronkonkoma High, changed her name to Jamie when she entered high school as a freshman. People still call her Jane, though, and make monkey noises at her. Not nice. People bite sometimes. But, Jane just ignores them like, “Huh? What did you just say? I can’t HEAR YOU!” And, tugs a long strand of her pink streaky hair out from behind her ear and lets it hang into her face. She’s all about Goth. I thought she’d get over it in the fifth grade but it stuck. God. Still, she’s my friend, probably my BFF, kind of more than Ricki ‘cause Ricki is super smart and prettier than me and Jane/Jamie by like eons away. But, Ricki doesn’t think about boys too much, just Billy, so she doesn’t wear make-up and she loves science and she spends all of her time with her father who is kind of nerdy because he is an actuary so he’s always counting on something. If you know what I’m saying.

He will, just, all of the sudden burst into Ricki’s bedroom when we’re all studying at her house and say “Did you know the average age of people who die from, blah, blah, blah…” and then my eyes glaze over like an old dog’s and I fall back onto her bed and start twirling my pencil like it’s a baton and I zone myself into marching bands and football games and before you know it, he leaves. Good Gandalf, he’s weird. Plus, he’s so ugly it explains why Ricki’s mother left him and that’s where Ricki gets her ‘pretty’ gene from. You know.

My name? Just plain old Susie. I thought about dropping the E from each of my names,

Susie Speider = Susi Spidr

but it looked too graphic novel, so I just keep my stupid name the way it has been since I was just a sperm cell swimming up into mom’s hoo.

And, don’t act like my mom never had sex. It seems kind of gross but everybody should do it at least once in their life.

Get over it.

Maybe even I will someday but not with the way these new stupid glasses make me look.

I’m trying to talk mom into getting me contacts.

“We’ll see.”

Sooo. What else…

Mother hated my grades and my “inability to focus” as she put it and got me into psych ther and got me these specs and onto meds and now my dyslexia isn’t so dyslexic. My grades this semester have improved. Drastically, actually. Like, they totally went 4.0 across the board.

Mom’s happy and that’s good ‘cause mom’s a good old gal. I hate it when I make mom cry. She cries enough without my antics.

Mom graduated in 1990 from Ronkonkoma High.

Don’t say it. Don’t even think it. I know how gross it is to graduate from the same high school as your own mom.

After she graduated mom went to work for Costco as a boxer. Not the kind with gloves, the kind with cardboard boxes. Doi. She performed so well there that they promoted her to cashier and when she excelled as a cashier, they suggested she enter the management program which she did and now she’s a regional manager covering Ronkonkoma, NY, Sanguay, NY and Poughkeepsie, NY. That’s pretty cool, I think. ‘Cause even though mom’s totally out of touch with what’s cool today, she’s still pretty cool. Plus, she works at the Nesconset store which is only an easy breezy four miles or so from our house, a one, no. 9 Sloan Drive, Ronkonkoma, New York 11779, (631) 222-7454. So, like, we get everything, from toilet paper to dried mushrooms in bulk quantities! Mom likes working there and she likes that she can come home for lunch if she wants.

One thing about Ronkonkoma is that everything is real close by–the high school, the Costco, the cemetery. Bleh.

My mom (btw, her name is Willa Speider and used to be Camden before she married dad), can even read financial statements and all that business rigmarole, as she puts it.

Mom likes to use big words like rigmarole because she thinks the more syllables a word contains the more important you sound, like, supercallafrajalisticexpialladoscious. But, seriously, rigmarole doesn’t even come close to supercallafrajalisticexpialladoscious in syllable count. What it does come close to is ridiculous count.

Face it fool! Rigmarole ain’t antidisestablishmentarianism, now, is it?

THAT’s a big word, one with loads of meaning too. But, I prefer big words with few syllables, like, fractal. Now, that’s a huge word… in terms of meaning, no? My take on words, like this for instance, is another reason why Tanya likes me. 😀

Any who.

I’m trying on new abridged words. I’m hoping “am” gets picked up on soon.

I told you that I’m super human, right?

 

 clip_image006clip_image008

clip_image005

It happened a few days after they’d finally figured out how to assuage (another am word) my dyslexia and my lack of focus, by putting me on these anti-ADD pills.

I hadn’t been sleeping much because of the meds—a snotty side effect. I have to take them at night. Plus, the doctor said “they will have a tendency to dehydrate you so take them with plenty of water.” I slug ’em back in two gulps and hit the hay!

Anywho… that night I noticed this eight-legged little freaky creature skittering about on my ceiling, close to the wall and even closer to the ceiling fan.

It moved so stealthily that if you kept watching it you couldn’t see its movement but if you looked away for a few seconds at a time, you could see it had gone from point A to point B, you know?

Sooo, just to check my theory, I kept closing my eyes every minute or two and, sure enough, I was right. No duh. The crawly had moved! Not exactly a project for the science fair but I was riveted.

And, yep, you guessed it, the crawler was a spider. A black little thing, real compacto, as spiders go. Not those long-legged spooky cretins that make you scream out loud. This critter was one of the cute ones.

There exist two tests for spider cuteness.

Cute test # 1: small tight black easy to carry in your purse, kind of creature—pass.

Cute test # 2: long, sprawling-legged, zippy elusive with daggers out its mouth—fail!

Dag. That’s another word I’m trying out. I have three main ones: Am, ‘Azin, and Dag. Although I believe I’m just resurrecting an old word with dag from dagnabbit! A vile oath, if ever.

Ohh. There’s another one, rect. But, people will think I mean wrecked and I don’t. I mean rectal, like, the total opposite of sick or rad.

There’s lots to consider when creating words. I should write a thesis.

K. I’m way off base now. ‘Member, I’m super human? It all started ‘cause of this spider (and it’s sort of ironic, too, you know, ‘cause my name is Speider). I couldn’t sleep and noticed the crawly… all of this ring a bell? So, when I couldn’t sleep I got out of bed and walked up to where this spider was hanging out, I mean, literally, hanging. So, it’s not like I could walk right up and look at this spider hanging on the ceiling. Lord. I’m only five-foot-three and a QUARTER.

And, obviously, given to moments of sudden outbursts.

No. I used a chair, the chair at my desk. It’s shabby chic mom says.

Whatever.

I pulled it over under where the spider had begun building a web, climbed up onto the chair and just stared at her for like a bazillion hours–like maybe two minutes. And, by then, I kind of figured we’d sort of, I don’t know, bonded and I put my finger up close to her.

At first she backed away but I didn’t move. They have eyes too, four of them (like me with my specs on), and, she watched me watching her, but doubly so, and considered my finger there, near her web and must’ve thought it was food or something because like a bolt out of freakin’ lightning she pounced on the end of it!

I screamed like I’d been hit on hole two by a sliced golf ball coming from hole one. Dad used to golf. Said he had a “crappy handicap!”

Anyway, I pulled back and when I did one of the blades from the ceiling fan cracked me in the back of the head and I fell off my chair. Thank goodness it was on low or who knows what kind of cranial damage might have ensued.

Ouch.

I landed on the floor and hit my head AGAIN, hard, and must’ve passed out ‘cause all I remember was having this crazy dream  about being a spider—that spider.

Luckily, I’m a kid with fairly soft bones, mom went on to tell me the next morning, seeing the Charlie horse on my arm and the knot on the back of my head, “lest, you might’ve broken something.” Lest. She actually said lest. She reads the Bible a lot too since dad died. She even sometimes yells Selah! When I say funny things. I just pray that she doesn’t do it in front of Ricki and Jamie.

Our lives went a bit “topsy-turvy” (as my psychologist put it) and I was to “just accept inevitable changes that would occur” in mom.

So, mom made me stay home from school that day and I got to do all sorts of fun things with her like make special potions with Jergen’s lotion and vinegar and sugar. I’m trying to find a new acid-based wrinkle reducing cream for mom, who, by the way, is only thirty-seven. Mom gave birth to me August 12th, 1994 at 4:49 p.m. at St. Charles Hospital, in Port Jefferson, a mere 14.1 miles away from our house.

Mom doesn’t like her crow’s feet of late but I think they make her look happy. She says they make her look like, “Methuselah but older!” I think it’s one of her Bible references but I’m not really sure. It’ll be a year to the day, December 5th, the anniversary of dad’s death that we took up reading the Bible.

Lord! I’m not even all the way through Genesis, it’s like the forever chapter or something.

Anyway.

Delilah noticed first. Did I tell you about her? Oh, yeah, I think so. Let me check…

Did. And, no, I will not stop saying pussy because pussy wasn’t always a bad word and I reject that meaning therein. I’m also thinking about going into law. Pussy, initially, was used in-tandem with cat, pussy cat, to mean a sweet fuzzy four-legged lithe mammal with stellar qualities.

Remember, I’m also a word FREAK!

But, it was Delilah first who noticed the change. In me. My super human change. And, after the spider, basically, knocked me down onto the floor and I finally woke up again, I looked at my finger. I realized it might’ve also bitten me. And, upon further inspection of my finger, there appeared a small red dot on its tip and a little white pustule had grown up on a pinpoint of whitish pink bump.

“Did you bite me?” I shrieked, and, when I looked up at the ceiling, the spider was still hanging from its web. (Good thing, too, because if I had screamed “Did you bite me!” to no one there, I might’ve also become a candidate for the loony bin.)

The spider did not answer, as one might guess. Instead, she just recoiled slightly within her happy haven website.

Website. I love that.

And, she continued to gather silk threads, knit one perl two, and to move to the next obtuse angle for the next knitting session.

She ignored my question entirely. The snot.

So, of course, I stuck my finger—pustule and all—into my mouth and scraped it off with my teeth, swallowing it completely and there, I believe, my problem began to take form. Or, should I say, transform.

Because…

It was like…

                        …I…

                                    …became…

                                                                                                                        …the spider!


Leave a Comment