She had never known any other life. Her whole world was bounded by the domain of the Spider – a domain of terror, distress and infinite weariness. All her life the Spider had been there, penetrating everything she did, going before her everywhere she went. Its sticky webs wrapped round her, and the more she tried to move, the tighter they bound her, until the only way she could move at all was in a slow-motion, zombie-like shuffle.
She had not noticed it so much when she was a child. Then the webs had been looser, less constraining, and had seemed to be her security rather than a limitation. All children had limitations placed upon them, it was the nature of the world, and she had not realised that the ones placed on her were qualitatively different from the ones placed on others.
But she was an adult woman now, and that made all the difference. There was an energy rising within her that did not want to confine itself to the helpless dependency of childhood. She wanted to be her own self, and not a carbon copy of someone else’s expectations; she wanted to try things and do things that had never been permitted. Yes, if she exerted all of her strength she could probably tear herself at least partly free from these multitudinous strands. But she was afraid to try, for she fully believed that she would rip off her own skin, at least, and possibly her internal organs as well, disembowelling herself in the process. She no longer knew where she ended and the webs began; she was scared that the very thing she longed to rage against was her own inescapable self.
For the sticky entanglement was not the Spider’s only weapon – just the most obvious and superficial. Far more deadly, and infinitely more subtle, was its poison, continuously dripped into her through the initial wounds that had been inflicted when she was too small to remember. It was a poison that kept her weak and helpless, continually dripping toxic ideas into her mind:
‘you are useless’
‘Nobody wants you’
‘it’s all your fault’
‘who do you think that you are?’
This poison caused a great deal of agonizing pain, and induced paralysis and confusion, and effectively prevented any healing taking place. The spider took great pleasure in watching her writhe while it worked on new refinements of the torture, feeding its own sense of grandiosity on her every nuance of helpless anguish.
The torment kept growing. She was reaching the limits of her endurance. In the secret places of her heart she began to cry out for deliverance, without any hope or expectation. She was so close to annihilation – the total closing down of her thinking and feeling.
It was then that He appeared – not the bright shining Knight she vaguely dreamt of, but another helpless victim like herself, who walked deliberately into the web and wrapped the strands around Himself, as if they would not stick to Him of their own power, they way did so readily to her. She felt the tremor in the web as the Spider approached Him, almost shaking with delighted greed. The Spider bit Him, injecting, all at once, a fatal dose of poison. She felt the web tremble again as His body drooped and shriveled. It felt like the darkest, most horrible moment she had ever known.
But suddenly she felt a new tremor in the web. Was this the Spider coming to finish her off? She scarcely dared to look. But then she had to, and could hardly understand what she was seeing. He was no longer a mere husk, but a being overflowing with light and life, and as she watched, He grew to enormous size, and tore the web apart. Then, even as she watched in amazement, the webs that bound her lost their grip and fell from her body. He was looking straight at her, and she began to move her atrophied limbs in response.
It was time to let Him teach her how to walk