An Average Conversation with the Mrs. (A Short Story)


“Tim!” she shrieked from the bathroom.

Tim, leaving his work station prepared for one of three possibilities:

  1. She’s out of toilet paper
  2. She sees a spider
  3. Just to say ‘hi’

“Tim! Quick! Quick!”

It still could be any of the three.

When he turned the corner for the bathroom, she was on her feet, gripping the door frame, pants around her legs. With panicked eyebrows raised, she pointed to the tub, no doubt this was #2 — not the kind you make in the bowl.

“Spider! Spider!”

Tim walked in. It was huge. It was the kind of spider you try desperately not to embellish, but friends would never believe otherwise. It’s long, legs were so thick, he could see the little cilia jutting out like cactus spikes. It’s fangs, bulbous and large, like big punching bags waiting to attack. Tim almost wanted to take a picture with his hand by it for scale, but was too timid to do so.

“Kill it!”

Tim grabbed the box of whitening strips (the plastic still wrapped around the container) and after a brief apology in his head, he crushed the beast and scraped it along the tub.

“Is it dead?”

Tim lifted the box to show that it was indeed dead, curled even (as spider’s do) in the arachnid fetal position (with what legs remained). With a few sheets of toilet paper, Tim swept up the nightmare and flushed it down the toilet — twice, for good measure.


“What kind of spider was it?”

“I don’t know, I’ll look it up.”

“We’ve been seeing a lot of those lately.”

“Well, I’ve seen a lot of pest control around our neighbors, maybe the spiders are running out of places to hide.”

“But what if there’s a nest here?!”

“There’s not a nest…” he said aloud, while simultaneously thinking, ‘although I remember reading about how much spiders like damp, dark and moist places and the bathroom fits the bill.

“But what if they’re venomous and they bite me in our sleep?!”

“The only spider you have to watch out for is the Brown Recluse…”

“What’s that?”

Tim needed a quick save, “I don’t really know, but they’re like… worse than black widows.”

That wasn’t a save,’ Tim scolded himself.

Tim opened up his browser and started looking up pictures of big, brown spiders — expecting the trauma of seeing the creature to kick in when he saw. Instead, all the spiders looked the same! It was a wonder to him that so many websites claimed to be experts on identifying big brown spiders and yet unless the spider was caught in a jar or kept under a microscope, he didn’t understand how this helped laymens at all.

Count the eyes, if it has 8, then you have a…

Look at the body size, if it’s less than half an inch…

Any distinguishing colors? If on the legs, probably… if on the body…

After looking at numerous pictures and websites, Tim didn’t even know if what he killed was a spider, but was certain he wanted to rule out the Brown Recluse… no such luck.

“Any luck?” Tim’s wife asked.

“Hmm, I think it’s a common grass spider,” he said or rather hoped, but couldn’t remember the body being elongated, it seemed more round to him.

“Is it venomous?”

“No, not at all,” he said, “See?” He flashed her his phone screen.

“That doesn’t look like him.”

She was right, “There’s a lot of variations of grass spiders, I’ll find you another.”

She sidled up next to him and looked over his shoulder. “There!” She pointed at the Brown Recluse.

“No… it couldn’t be, those don’t even live in Northern California,” he said although he thought, ‘I mean, they’re not common in NorCal, but they can appear.’

“Are they venomous?”

“Yes, but the most severe symptoms you can get is headache, nausea, itchiness (from the bite wound) and dizziness. You know, it’s not pleasant, but you won’t die.”

Although,’ he thought and recalling the images he’d seen associated with Brown Recluse spider bites, ‘it can cause necrosis, which kills the flesh around the bite in big baseball sizes and then you need a skin graph and, oh yes, it will scar.’

“That’s all?”

“That’s all. Of course, I want to get a better image of one of them. Next time — if — we see one, we should take a picture,” and put all these fears to rest, “but the good news is, you’d be fine if you were bitten. Like, people dying of spider bites — even black widows — is pretty rare,” unless you’re a child or elderly person.

“Okay…” she said a little relieved.

“Okay,” he said, but thought, ‘we should still shake out the sheets before getting into bed.

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