By A. A. Malina
“Did you know that, in theory, spiders could eat every human on earth in just a year?” Sasha was pulling a frozen pizza out of its box as she said this, oblivious to Kyle’s quizzical expression.
“That sounds made up,” he laughed.
“Nope. Apparently, spiders can consume so much prey in a year that if they decided to eat only humans, they could wipe us all out.”
“You always find the weirdest facts. Have you been on a Wikipedia binge again today?”
Sasha didn’t answer, but shoved the pizza in the oven and slammed the door shut.
“Babe? Is something wrong?” Kyle came up behind her and slipped his arms around her waist.
This was the third night this week she’d come home from work late, too tired to cook dinner. The empty pizza boxes were stacked in the recycling bin next to the back door. There were gnats hovering above the kitchen sink because he still hadn’t set the traps she’d asked him to. But she didn’t have the energy to start that argument again.
“I tried to talk to my boss today about those guys in the office. The ones who always pile work on me with, like, no time to finish it. You know what she said to me? She said that’s just how they are. That I’m their favorite paralegal and think I can handle it all. And she thinks I can, too.”
“That’s good though, isn’t it? They really trust you and know you do good work. It’s a compliment. When my clients give me more websites to work on, I know I must be doing something right.”
“You work from home. Plus, you’re a web designer, not a paralegal. It’s not the same thing. They’re singling me out because I’m a woman.”
Sasha sighed. There was an ache in her chest she feared he would never understand. She thought about what her boss had said as she stood up to leave that meeting:
“Wow, you’re brave to wear a skirt that short here! Personally, I wouldn’t be able to handle the men gaping at me.”
“I never really thought about it before,” she’d answered as she opened the door to leave.
“Oh, and one more thing, hon,” her boss had called out. “Woman to woman—let me tell you—a smile goes a long way here. It could do you more good than you think.”
“Babe, your boss is a woman,” Kyle was saying. “Besides, are you even sure they give you more work than the others? Maybe everyone is swamped.” He pulled her closer to him as he said this.
“I can’t believe I have to explain this to you, Kyle,” she said, pulling away. “How many times have we been over this? I’m not crazy. I’m not making this stuff up.”
“Hey, hey, calm down. There’s no need to get all upset. I just think maybe you should step back and think about it. You’ve had a long day and you don’t want to start jumping to conclusions.”
She looked up at him and wondered if it was normal to feel like they were speaking different languages even after three years together. When they first met, he had dazzled her with bell hooks quotes and his shallow knowledge of feminist theory, but now he reminded her of one of those gnats above the kitchen sink. Only this one was veering too close to a web, unaware that its actions could lead to its own demise.
“You’re right,” she said. “I guess I’m overreacting.”
He missed the sarcasm in her tone and smiled at her. She imagined turning into a giant spider and swallowing him whole.