jennifer wortman

What Kind of Person

I didn’t see the spiders until the water shot down. They tried to climb the side of the tub, scuttling in circles at the puddle’s rising edge. I bore them no ill will but I had to get to therapy, which I’d thought started at eleven but, according to my phone alert and my therapist’s reply to my frantic text, started at ten. I hadn’t checked my phone calendar because for weeks, the appointment time in my phone had conflicted with the appointment time in my brain, and when I’d email my therapist, she’d say, “Your brain’s right again!” At the end of our sessions, I’d show her my careful phone record of our next appointment, but my phone would still somehow botch things up in the week to come. So I’d stopped trusting my phone and started trusting my brain, and now, because of my misplaced trust, I didn’t have time to save the spiders. But I also couldn’t jump in the shower and go about my business. It was kind of like that time I sat drunk in a car between two drunk guys and one guy grabbed my crotch and I nudged the other guy and laughed and said, “Look!” and the other guy said, “Slap him!” but I didn’t slap him because I didn’t believe it was happening. So now watching the spiders die was the least I could do. Or the most. I couldn’t tell the difference and not being able to tell the difference paralyzed me. What kind of person would I be if I let the spiders die?  What kind of person would I be if I saved the spiders but came late to therapy? What kind of person would I be if I saved the spiders and came to therapy on time without showering after days of not showering? In the meantime, the spiders had lost strength, they now skittered along the waterline, and I felt their panic like it was my own, except they were dying and I wasn’t, I was killing them, and then I told myself to stop this nonsense and I got in the shower and when I next looked the spiders were two brown dots, and when I looked again, their legs splayed from their bodies in crushed little curls, and when I looked again, they were gone, washed down the drain, and see what it looks like when you don’t save the spiders and see what you feel like when you don’t save the spiders and look how you got it wrong, got everything wrong, again.