Blesok no. 41, March-April, 2005
Prose


Black Widow
(excerpt)

Erica Johnson Debeljak


black widow, Latrodectus mactans, a venomous spider, the female of which is jet black with an hourglass-shaped red mark on the underside of its abdomen

    A strange woman came to me early this morning. I think she must have appeared at around six in the morning: just about an hour before the alarm clock was set to ring and some time after the September sun had begun to penetrate the pale white blinds of my bedroom window. It might have been after six, come to think of it, because I remember that the morning train that goes by our house on the hour and half-hour had already rumbled past. The mattress had swayed slightly beneath my body and awakened me with a vague sense of fear, as if an explosion had detonated somewhere in the distance. I calmed myself by resting a hand on the still form of my husband lying next to me, and by watching the cords on the blinds swing gently back and forth, back and forth. And then I must have drifted off to sleep again.
    I woke a short time later with the distinct sensation that somebody was watching me. And sure enough, there she was: a dark, cloaked, feminine figure standing motionless in the doorway. She looked rather romantic standing there, leaning gracefully against the doorframe. She silently surveyed the bedroom, her dark eyes taking in the broad white bed, the man and wife sleeping there. I watched her through half-shut eyelids and her black silhouette seemed to assume the blurred form of a woman from a distant century, the shape of her torso distorted slightly by what might have been a corset and a bustle. She looked so dark in the white frame of the doorway that she could have been a nun in a black habit reclining against an arch in a cloistered courtyard. Or a lady in mourning, resting against a column in a ballroom, observing the revelry, but not allowed, because of her widowed state, to dance.



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