"You know, I used to hate the water."
"Can't imagine why."
The film footage stopped moving right as the words THE END popped on the screen. Shaken, Alex reached for the remote in front of her and double-checked that do not delete recording was highlighted before she hit OK.
Well. People weren't exaggerating when they said Jaws was like a Hitchcock film; Alex had pretty much known everything that was going to happen from clips she'd seen over the years, but she still screamed a couple times. She debated rewinding it—her mom had walked in during the beginning, so Alex didn't really get to focus on the first girl getting eaten—but decided against it. She knew she probably wasn't going to have nightmares now, but if she watched it again she might.
Still…it was tempting. There was something about thriller movies that always left Alex wanting more, even when the movie had been excellent. She had a habit of rewinding to the best or scariest parts of DVDs, just trying to absorb all the shock value she could out of it…only to hate herself for it later when she couldn't fall asleep. The scariest image would always pop into her head the second she closed her eyes. It didn't matter that great white sharks never got that near the coastline, or that Mythbusters had proved it was physically impossible for a shark to pull the barrels under water; the idea would still haunt her.
Alex glanced at the clock; it was about ten o'clock right now, but it was summer, so she could pretty much stay up as late as she wanted. After watching people get eaten for two hours, she was in the mood for some comedy. There were some back-logged Colbert Reports on the TiVo; she dialed up the most recent episode then burst out laughing: of course the shark wasn't going to get her—there was an oil spill. Hell, even if a great white could find its way to a coastal town (which it couldn't) it'd be dead before it could do anything. And even if it managed to stay alive, all you'd have to do to get rid of it was throw a lighter into the ocean. Boom, problem solved.
Thus comforted, Alex curled up on the coach and watched the show for another hour or so. When her eyes started to itch, she clicked the TV off and went upstairs to take a shower.
As she flicked the bathroom light on, Alex leaned back to double-check whether or not her mother was sleeping. It looked like she was, but Alex cracked the door to her room anyway in case the running water was loud enough to wake her up.
The inside of the bathroom was like an obstacle course. The hook on the door had broken off a month earlier, so both of her robes were on the floor, along with all of her dirty clothes (the laundry basket in the corner contained only clean clothes that had yet to be returned to the dresser.) Alex stripped indiscriminately, letting the remnants of her outfit rest wherever they hit the floor.
She kicked a sundress away from the sliding door of the shower and stepped inside. The faucet was already set to her preferred temperature—all she did was turn on the nozzle.
Warm, gushing water fell from the shower head. Alex tilted her head back and let the water fall over her long, blonde ringlets. As she turned around, her eyes fell to the left corner of the tub. There was a spider, with thin legs but a thick body, creeping along the wall.
Alex stiffened; she hated spiders. Still, there was no reason to mess with it. It wasn't near the shampoo bottles and it wasn't hurting anything. She stepped forward a little so that the water wouldn't wash over her face, keeping one eye on the arachnid. It moved slowly, like a mountain climber tentatively taking a step down, and then rested for a bit. Skirting around that particular corner, Alex reached for her comb. Her hair was so thick it could only be combed while it was soaking wet—the walls around the shower were coated with random strands of it, and it clogged the drain so often that Alex was used to standing in ankle-deep water while she bathed.
She watched the spider creep lower and lower down the wall, until the pooling water at her feet sprang up and lapped it up. "Shit!" Alex exclaimed as the gushing water tossed the spider towards her feet. She sidestepped it several times, and then watched as it was tossed back and forth by the propulsion of the shower water and the gravity of the drain. Its little legs kicked as it tried to grab hold of something, anything.
This wasn't fair, Alex realized. Let the cats get it, fine, that's nature's discretion, but don't let it get swept up while minding its own business. "Fuck." She turned the water off, clamored out of the tub and ripped a piece of toilet paper off. She tried to scoop up the spider without actually having to touch it; the paper melted the second it hit the water.
"Well of course," Alex cursed herself. She cracked the door again and looked around for anything that she could use, the idea that she could use her hands not even occurring to her. There was a used eye-glass cleaner on the top of her trashcan, a water spot already on it from leaving the shower door open. Good enough. Alex grabbed it and spun around again; the spider was in the right corner, nearing the drain. "Fuck." She positioned her body so it served as a shield between the spider and the drain and tried to scoop it up. It floated out of her reach three times; Alex saw that the spider was being moved by the current—she thought she might have seen one of its legs twitch the first time, but the next they were all still, curved into the same shape. Alex didn't care, even as she felt a little tug on her heart at the observation. Finally, on the fourth try, she managed to rescue it, its brownish-black body visible through the thin white paper.
She opened the shower door again so that she could have more light and then unfolded the wet bundle. The spider lay flat in the middle, on its side. It did not move.
Alex stared at it a minute. The spider only looked like it had six legs; maybe it had been injured to begin with. Maybe drowning had been a merciful death.
Either way, it was her fault. It was her hair clogging the drain, making the water rise. But at least she had saved it from getting sucked down into that dark whole, with all the water rushing towards it and the clotted blonde hair choking the opening that led to the sewers. At least she managed to save it from that.
Her heart sank as she realized the spider would have already been dead by the time it reached the drain.
Well, then at least she had saved that from being its final resting place? But then again—she glanced at her overflowing wastebasket—was where he was going to go now so much better?
She looked down at the spider again. It still looked gross, unattractive... but that didn't mean it didn't feel like a little tragedy had taken place. ."I'm sorry," she told it, then folded it up in its white small white shroud, and placed it on top of the wastebasket—on top of maxi pads and price tags and stupid things that didn't matter. Probably on top of more of her stupid hair.
Closing the sliding door behind her once more, Alex debated if she should finish her shower. But that was stupid, she thought. She hadn't even soaped up her body yet.
When she had finished, she didn't look at the spider. She put her robe on, kissed her snoozing mother's cheek, and went to bed. As she closed her eyes, she didn't see a blood-stained raft floating to shore, or a floating head popping out of a sunken ship: she just saw that wastebasket, and the little white bundle on top of it. She imagined it twitching, and the spider crawling out. It had only been in shock, and now it was sneaking into the night, never to be seen again.
Alex wished it was true. She would never double-check to make sure it wasn't.