When in the early morning I see a spider in the house, I don’t squash it like the woman I used to be. Instead, I stagger backward on instinct, then lean forward with intent. I greet the alien creature as though it’s a prince in disguise honoring me with his presence. 

The spider has something to say to me, which shouldn’t be surprising. We’ve met before, you know, the spider and I, in different incarnations. We’ve met in cold kitchens and hallways, above beds and dusty bicycles, even on my skin at times, still damp from recent sleep. 

Most meetings began in horror and ended badly. Let’s not sugarcoat my murders: the woman I used to be has blood on her hands from the life that scared her to death. 

Now, I listen to the spider and its webbed words, weaving my shroud or wedding dress from the strong silky threads. I have trained myself to be patient. Who knows a spider’s true intentions? The creature may wear glasses like me or rub two of its forelegs together as though it’s a raccoon washing the next bite. Such a clean creature, the spider, black with innocence. 

The woman I used to be closes her eyes as I stick out my tongue and wait for the prince to climb into my mouth. Why live in denial? When I see a spider in the house, I know the future is near. No matter how many doors I slam or double lock at night, the future will arrive the next day in the early morning like a spider you can either squash or swallow whole. 

Claire Polders is a Dutch author of four novels with a debut in English on the way. In 2016, Denver Quarterly nominated one of her stories for a Pushcart Prize. Her short prose appeared in TriQuarterlyGreen Mountains ReviewOkey-PankyFolioSmokeLong QuarterlyTin House (The Open Bar), Prairie Schooner (Blog), and elsewhere. Find her at