Spiders and Birds
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If he wasn't breathing loudly the forest would be quiet. The morning air felt cold on his lips. His throat should've felt cold, too, something warm began to rise. He looked to where the light had come from, that had distracted them, the old woman groaned as he did. He picked her up in a fireman's carry, dragged his ax, and thugged a branch away from the bush of tea leaves.

The distance was substantial, carrying a person so heavy. He wondered, along their journey, what she was made of. It felt like five bags of cement being carried on his shoulders. Adrenaline kept him going. Exercise kept the thoughts of what he had done away. The ax in his hand made sure that they were always near.

A slope began, and the grass began to blur by. He was yelling suddenly, words that the villagers wouldn't understand and words he wouldn't remember saying. An old man stepped out from among them. Green-skinned like the rest, his beard was made of white, short, and hard hairs. He carried her into her home. No one else besides the two were allowed in.


"Ah!" He heard her yelp, ran around the corner, and found her holding her chest-- which, of course, unnerved him even more. He began to worry that she had had a heart attack.

He questioned himself, got closer to his mother; his hands were shaking. She pointed to a dark corner, where the cupboards and plaster met. It had been burned by the heat of the stove over the years.

Something moved. He squinted and said to her.

"Mom, it's just a spider!" He sighed. "Just call dad to do it. I'm going back to my room."

She told him he wasn't home, that the pot was set too high, and had begun to boil over. It started to evaporate on the sides, staining it. Smoke built up quickly.

"Damian!" she pointed, "kill the spider! Hurry up, or it's going to run if you don't hurry!"

His dad would use the tip of a broom, he held it up and found it much too small. His hands were shaking too badly to hit the target. It scurried higher. Maybe it would jump down? Suddenly, he became aware, that it might be venomous. A paralytic, maybe a hemotoxin? His ten-year-old mind came up with ideas, none healthy for him. 

His sister had arrived, she held onto the corner he had ran around. She was too young to walk on her own.

Dad wasn't home. 

His hands were shaking. He missed, and it scurried even higher. Stopping on the ceiling, spread as wide as a saucer.

'Stop shaking.' It was his heart that had caused his hands to shake. He held his heart as his mother held hers.

'Stop shaking, stop it, stop shaking...'

The broomstick lost its wobble, the spider became a stain and he felt much better. He had learned a lesson.


The old man wiped her face clean of dust, held Damian by the jaw; twisting his face to see if his pupils were both the same sizes. He slapped him, yelled something at him; probably about the poison and that he was lucky.

Someone knocked on the door as the old man knelt down taking Saralin's hand into his own. The old man yelled over his shoulder, and a boy came in touting a leather bag. The bag held side-ways, covered most of his chest, and was long enough to strike his knees when he walked. Damian's mind was in a weird place, as he noticed that the boy wore shoes. Some pine needles were stuck in the mud between Damian's toes. Dust covered the mud.

He sighed, he missed home.

Suddenly he saw that he held the bush limb weighted with tea leaves. Inexplicably, he became excited. He, belatedly, gave the old man the limb, he also became excited.

They took some of her pots to the stone stove, it shared a hearth with the chimney, to boil some plants and herbs. Damian only recognized a few of the things thrown in, so for most of the time he only gotten in the way. There were so many, he started to wonder if they knew what those plants were meant to do.