Michael and Spider lived in a small house on Maple Street, two blocks from Kin’s Farm Market and four blocks from the bus stop for the number 7 going downtown. Michael had a little garden in which he grew tomatoes and radishes during the summer. Spider preferred the indoors, settling next to Michael’s bookshelf and lamp. She had a vague memory of living outside once, in some past life, but she could not remember how she had done it. Michael would leave the back door open to let in flies, and Spider would happily catch them. In the winter, Michael would sit in his kitchen, staring at the rain outside, while Spider wove snowflake shapes into her web. When Michael made coffee, the scent would waft through the house and make Spider’s feet itch. Spider sometimes had to resort to centipedes in the cold weather, but if Michael left fruit out until it began to rot, flies would breed in it. This made Spider happy, but not Michael. He would sigh at the molding fruit, let the stinking pile sit for a day or two as though it would disappear on its own, then throw it out reluctantly.
Michael liked spiders. He let other spiders live at his home if they came in, but Spider hated that. They were always small, black specks, or gangly thread-legged types that had no talent for web-building. They only made the house seem dirty, which caused their occasional guests to make remarks about cleanliness and housekeeping, and threaten to kill Spider, whose web was the most beautiful. So Spider made sure to push out all the other spiders whenever she could. That way, their house would always look tidy.
There was nothing she could do about the dust, though, which stuck stubbornly to Spider’s web and made it look tacky and old. When this happened, Spider would climb up on top of Chambers Dictionary and watch as Michael lugged out his heavy vacuum cleaner and swept through the whole house, making grunting noises as the vacuum banged into the walls and furniture in its path. When he was done, Michael would collapse onto the sofa as Spider climbed back to the lamp and began to string up her web again. Michael would watch with the sweat clinging to his back and neck as she set up her support threads and wove her hypnotic spirals, becoming drowsier and drowsier. After that they would have a little conversation, Michael half asleep on his sofa, muttering about what to make for supper, and Spider on her web, gesturing delicately about what a nice house they live in.