by Tirzah M.M. Hawkins
Fred's tiny feet tickle me as he moves down from my shoulder onto the arm of the chair. I briskly rub my arm to get rid of the itchy feeling. Fred often crawls a little ways from me when he knows I'm not going anywhere for a while. I think he likes to explore. Everything must look so giant to him.
Fred's been with me for as long as I can remember, but no one else can see him. He's big. I have to use both my hands to hold him, and he often sits on my shoulder. I make sure to walk carefully so he doesn't fall off. His body and every one of his eight legs is covered in fine hairs that are soft to stroke.
I named him Fred after Fred on the Lucy show that I watch with Mommy and Daddy. I imagine that if Fred were a human, he would be a big bumbling lovable person like Fred Mertz.
Fred is the reason we are here. Well, he and the other spiders. No one else can see Fred and the other spiders. No one believes they exist.
But I'm not making them up. They follow me wherever I go. There are so many I can't count them all. Right now, they are spread out over the walls and ceiling of the room. I can sense they feel a little cramped in the tight quarters.
I wonder if Dr. Wilson will be able to see them; he is an eye doctor after all. Maybe he has some special glasses that he can wear to see them. If he does, I'll ask him to give them to Mommy so she can see my spiders and know that I'm not making them up.
Fred pauses at the end of the armrest, and I imagine he is thinking about leaping to the floor.
I remember Daddy reading to me in my spider book that certain spiders like Fred are delicate and can shatter like glass.
"Be careful, Fred," I whisper to him forgetting in my worry that he and I are not alone. Realizing what I’ve done, I look at my mom, my heartbeat quickening. She doesn't like it when I talk to Fred.
"What did you say, Missy?" She glances up from her magazine.
"Nothing, Mommy." My fingers pick at the edges of my book.
"You said something. What was it, pumpkin?"
I look down at my hands. "I was talking to Fred," I say meekly.
My mom stiffens before returning to her magazine with a sigh.
I turn my gaze back to Fred who has unwittingly been a trouble maker. It's not his fault. He doesn't know any better.
Fred is much more interesting than the other spiders. They don't do much except follow me. When I go somewhere they all follow me, and when I stay somewhere for any length of time, they spread out in the room. I often feel as if they are watching me, waiting for me to do something.