Instinctively, I knew that I was not alone. Call it sixth sense; I just had that feeling as of eyes watching me; following my every move. I looked around; could see no one; nevertheless, the feeling persisted.
I began to undress. Still, there was that sensation that I was being observed; a covert spectator, watching on from the shadows.
I leant over to turn on the bath taps, and then I saw it. Our two bodies froze; became statues; neither daring to move; the one mimicking the other.
It was not in the bath, but on the side, by the avocado tiles and grouting, as though preparing to get in. And it was a monster. Its pedipalps were upraised, like a boxer adopting a southpaw defence; its legs spanning an area the size of my palm. I inched backwards, fearing that awful moment when it begins to run, but the spider held its ground. The referee rang the bell. Round one was over. It was declared a draw.
I hurried downstairs and fetched a clear glass––a big, clear glass––and a piece of paper. I was nervous in case my quarry would have disappeared by the time I got back, but it was still there. Unmoved. Untroubled. I filled the glass with water from the sink, and prepared my aim. It was the middle of round two, and I was preparing my knock-out blow. It was all or nothing. Slosh! The water struck the spider squarely midships and, momentarily it vanished in a sea of spray but, within a second, I had spotted it again, in the bottom of the bath now, where I wanted it. The bell rings again. Round two goes to me.
I act swiftly now. While my adversary is still on the ropes, I cover it beneath my upended glass, and slide the paper beneath it, righting the glass with the spider inside. It looks bigger still up close, magnified in its glass prison. I carry my opponent carefully down the stairs, to the front door. I am still half undressed for the bath, but it is dark outside, and there is no one in the street to see me. I walk several houses away down the street before I release my quarry; I am taking no chance of it making a swift return. I shake out the glass, and the spider walks calmly away down the middle of the street. It has a steadied nonchalance in its retreat; it knows that it might have been ousted today, but it will return. Have no doubt about that, one day, it will return. The referee rings the bell for the end of the fight. It is a split points decision. A draw.
September is the traditional month for spiders in the bath. Why always the bath? And why does something that seems perfectly capable of walking across the ceiling struggle to scale the less than precipitous sides of a bath? According to scientific opinion, spiders do not come up the plughole; instead, they are more like to rappel down on a thread from above in search of water.
I actually don’t mind spiders in the bath. At least then you know where they are. It’s the ones that are scuttling around over the rest of the house that you can’t see that scare me.
© Simon Turner-Tree
Simon Turner-Tree doesn’t scare easily.