Eucharist

Eucharist

2194 3291 Monica Boothe

“She doesn’t realize what she’s doing.” I pant, my legs stumbling along their way. My breath, growing short and strained, rattles rhythmically. I always knew this would happen. Some ingrained instinct never let me doubt it, but it never seemed like it would. I knew it but could never picture it. I first saw her like a glittering black sun on a cloud of stars. Her legs, sleek and slender, stretched out from her body, like eight rays, gracefully threading her web. I saw her and this moment flashed in my mind. And I asked myself if it was worth it, this for that, but I knew the answer before the question materialized.

* * *
The Latrodectus hesperus of the Theridiidae family, like all other arachnids, has eight eyes, eight legs, and eight claws at their tips of the legs. The female is black and shiny with a red hourglass marking on her abdomen. The male is brown with the same marking of lighter, more yellow color. Because the female often attacks and eats the male after mating, the species is more commonly known as the black widow.
* * *
It started in the Garden of Gethsemane, where sweat became blood and the things I knew would happen hovered in the air around me and I prayed “take this cup from me.” But it remained. It rushed toward me like war drums and angry cries “Crucify! Crucify!” It was streaming down my skin, fear of the nails and the thorns. I could smell the tongue of the whip. It would soon be intimate with my back; its passionate kisses would penetrate the depths of me. There would be those eyes, eyes that reject and despise. They would cry “blasphemy!” and would condemn. They would turn me in for thirty pieces of silver. They would say they did not know me. They would strike me and would spit. And, captivated, I would not look away from them. Gasp and breathe them in, I would give myself to them.

“Take this cup from me! Please take this cup!” For a moment everything stood still. The damp on my skin lingered silently. “But it’s not what I want. It’s what you want.”

* * *
So I approached her, on her quilt of stars, my decision made. There’s something that defeats caution, logic, even sanity. Love, in its purest form, prevails over every form of wisdom. So I was already ensnared, like one of her culinary delicacies wound helplessly in her web.

She looked at me, then as I was tiptoeing towards her. I could see my reflection in her dazzling black eyes. After that it all melted away. A pool of beautiful moments. We swam in them. I loved her. She loved me.
There was never a thought that came to my mind that did not concern her. There was never a moment when she was not in my view. There was never a burden that she bore without my aid, never a decision she made without my advice. Never anything or anyone she trusted more than me.

And all the while, as we swam in this bliss, I fought to keep the knowledge from my thoughts, the knowledge of this moment that I knew was to come.

But as the time drew near, I could no longer ignore what I knew. I asked her to wait for me one day and I wandered off, not far. The realization overwhelmed me. The time had almost come. I could feel the pain like that which I knew I would soon bear. I saw the drops of dew that lay puddled about my legs and all around me on the branch on which I stood like sweat marbled with blood. And I knew it was time. I turned to her with weary eyes, dreading everything with all of me. She was asleep.
* * *
The male cautiously approaches the female, plucking the strands of the web. It is by these vibrations that she knows of his presence and purpose. He approaches cautiously, continually plucking the web.
* * *
I, with tremulous hesitation, placed one leg on the sparkling threads she had crocheted. The vibrations woke her. She looked at me and rose. I took another step towards her. She moved one leg to bounce the threads beneath me. This was the moment.
I approached her and began to wrap silken cords about her, loosely tying them around her legs and body. I watched, detached, as my legs wove the last of the glittering crosses. “You must do this,” I told myself. “Because you love her.”
* * *
After the male has finished his “hammock of love” he mounts the female. He inserts one pedipalp into her genital area. After a moment he inserts the second.
* * *
A moment of beauty and abhorrent darkness. Love oozed like sweat, like blood. It dripped down our legs. We were finally one, inseparable.
* * *
The male’s webbing is surpassed the female’s strength. She breaks through effortlessly.
* * *
She stretched and the cords I had made ripped. Like a silken curtain, it tore from top to bottom and she took a rapid step towards me. I turned and scrambled off along the tender threads and off the web.
* * *
“She doesn’t know what she’s doing,” I pant I stumble along. “She’s just hungry.” The comprehension of it seizes me with convulsing reality. I can see her behind me. I can see her eyes. One that rejects. One that despises. One cries “blasphemy!” One condemns. One has turned me in for thirty pieces of silver. One says it does not know me. One strikes me and one spits. And, captivated, I do not look away from them. Gasp and breathe them in, I give myself to them.
Her front legs scratch against my back, unable to get a grip, but they penetrate deeply, lacerating wet chasms across it. “She doesn’t know what she’s doing. I love her.” Two different legs begin to fumble along my back, and I can feel the front two scrambling at my head stabbing at it like thorns hurled into the skin. I stumble and fall. A moment of beauty and abhorrent darkness. Another of her legs presses against one of mine, piercing it like a nail. Love oozes like sweat, like blood. Then another, bolted to the branch. It drips down our legs. She begins to gorge herself. We are finally one, inseparable. “It is finished.”

 


 

Monica Boothe

The daughter of missionaries, Monica Boothe grew up in Nairobi, Kenya. Now, she lives just outside Washington, DC with her husband, three-year-old daughter, and newborn son. She is working on her MFA in fiction at George Mason University and is generally working on three or four different novels at any given time. Monica likes to write about fairytales, motherhood, the Savannah, spiders, anything that reflects the invisible Truth in the visible concrete.

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