By Alex Rankin
There was a spider on the wall of Dad’s bedroom. It was about the size of a grape. But that was big enough.
“Can you get rid of it?” I asked.
Dad just smiled his lazy smile, not even looking away from the television.
The next day, there were three or four of them, larger than the first. I felt queasy as I watched them scamper about, their long legs stumbling over the flaking plaster.
“Dad,” I wailed, but he shooed me away as if he didn’t want them to be disturbed.
The day after was a Saturday, and I spent it round at Kiva’s house. I love it there: not a bug in sight, and all the walls are nicely painted white. Her parents asked me questions, but I just made stuff up like how Dad works nights and Mum is staying up north for a while. It’s easier that way.
When I got back, the house was dark. TV light spilled into the hallway. I peered into Dad’s room and clutched at the door frame to steady myself. Under the glow of the television, the walls were writhing with black, and the rustle of thousands of legs filled the space. It wasn’t just spiders, either, there were snakes too. They were slithering out from under the bed and in and out of the sheets.
Dad was hardly visible. He just lay there while the creatures swarmed all over him. The smouldering end of his cigarette lit up their greasy skins and his hollow-looking eyes.
I haven’t been in there lately. When I get home from school, I make myself something to eat, then go straight to my room. Every now and then, I think Dad might be coming out, but instead it’s their tails thumping against the door or flicking through the gap like tongues.
I wish I knew how to get rid of them all. Last time the spiders disappeared by themselves after a few days. Now, I’m afraid the reason they haven’t gone is because Dad’s not letting them.