The spider on the bus

Friday 22nd June 2012

DOWN and down, like a slow-motion bungee-jumper; unravelling into the unknown; a black scribble passing the black lettering on the window:

EMERGENCY DOOR
TO OPEN PULL HANDLE

I watch, entranced by the perpendicular descent and invisible thread of this frail significance, blurring distant cattle into black and white blotches on a green background.

How did the tiny creature get here? What can there be on the bus for it to feed upon? Will it remain aboard for the rest of its days?

I am sitting in the right-hand corner of the back seat. Behind me stretches the pane of the rear window, with its stencilled advice…

EMERGENCY EXIT
BREAK GLASS TO OPEN

…and I surmise I would find a hammer in the locker above, which tells me…

TO OPEN
BREAK GLASS

…should the moment arise.

There are many superstitions associated with spiders. This is from the early 16th century:

When a man fyndeth a spyder upon his gowne
it is a synge to be that daye ryght happye

An advertisement above the seats to my left catches the eye. It shows an athlete breasting a tape and is ‘supplied by Message on the Move, which exists to display Biblical truths to the travelling public’:

WHO’S 4 U?
Jesus said,
“For God so loved the world he gave
his one and only Son…”

Those wanting to know more are offered a website, a freephone number, the option of texting ‘ygod’ and a QR Code, which resembles a robot’s drawing of a spider; or vice-versa.

An attempt to persuade him or her on to the palm of my hand fails, life being too short to waste on too-too-solid flesh: free-fall is the only wear.

There are 100,000 arachnid species, many of which, according to my daughter, inhabit the attic. They are found on every continent except Antarctica. Most prefer to live alone and have shown themselves able to survive without bank accounts.

I alight at my destination.

Drinking coffee outside a café, I notice a small, black spider scurrying over the top of my black rucksack and wonder if it’s the same spinster, travelling freely across a worldwide web.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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