Ophelia’s Overture Part 3: The Cottage

When the strange traveler arrived at the next interesting location, her hair was longer than when she left her home. She did not like it. There were times that she tugged at her hair and wished it would go away. Go back to being short. It needed to be short… 

Eventually, she stumbled on a structure of baby blue, trimmed with white, and as tall as a tree. The paint on the wood was peeling. Plants and vines and cobwebs hugged the sides protectively. The other structures of the sinner tribes were much better kept than this. 

In fact, the smell of their race was absent from the area. An abandoned structure. It was safe to approach.

Her multi-pupiled eyes searched the premises, now able to give these strange creations a closer observation. There was skilled craftsmanship to the structure. A handmade cave with no need for tunneling. And there were holes at the sides for sunlight. 

But once the woman’s eyes caught a sparkling glint from the ground, these thoughts fizzled away to make room for a greater curiosity. In the grass, right below the holes in the wall, were a collection of translucent crystals. She seized a large shard eagerly and turned it over in her hands. It smelled of nothing but dirt. Its flatter edges were as smooth as a rock polished by a river current while the thinner edges were sharp and jagged. She dragged it across her thumb and it bled. Very sharp. Sharper than her fangs. Perhaps even sharper than her tribe’s weapons? 

The thought made her abruptly drop it to the ground with a gasp. Something so new and fascinating now seemed dangerous to her. As if one of those evil creatures would suddenly jump out and…

She staggered even further and cast away the dark thoughts closing on her. Perhaps she should keep journeying, away from this place and back to her endless, aimless trek. Even though she didn’t want to. Now that she properly looked at where the crystals lay, she noticed even more lodged in the sunlight holes. She stared at them for a long time, weighing just how dangerous this crystal could be. Then a breeze blew in, and she remembered her hair. And how much she hated it. It was too long. Much much too long.

The skin-crawling discomfort bubbled up quick, and a second later, she dislodged a large shard from the wall and went to sawing. It cut easily. With each chunk of gray that gathered onto the dirt, a weight lifted from her chest. And she made a sound she hadn’t heard from her mouth in a while. A delighted hum that almost formed into a word. It came out hoarse because she hadn’t used her vocal chords in days. The unexpected relief of it all completely distracted her from the cuts on her hands, and she cooed and clicked and ran her fingers through her short hair with childish pleasure.

The crystal was no longer a foreign danger but a curious blessing. And the tree-made cave that provided it? Her sounds stopped, and she blinked back at the structure, its color blending with the serene sky. She considered giving thanks to it. The whispered words of her holy tongue danced across her mind for a moment. Except nature had not provided it. The humans had. But on the other hand, now that it was abandoned, did it not belong back to nature?

After bundling the crystal tightly in leaves and tucking it in her web-woven basket, she carefully crawled through one of the holes. 

Inside the house, it was all something that humans would see as an abnormality. As soon as she took a step further along its wooden floors, she came to the edge. The edge of a gaping hole in the floor, crooked and broken at its rim, deep and earthy in its belly. It took up a majority of the room and threatened anyone who entered with a nasty fall. And there was a beautiful familiarity in this pit: tunnels. 

It was as if nature can taken revenge on this structure by collapsing its floor. In one of the windows, a tree had crashed through. Sounds of birds and rodents celebrated through its rotting emptiness from room to room and all the way up the chimney and stairs. In this shell of a cottage, the spider woman saw a new home. 

Her wrapped feet found the edge of the pit and the spider appendages at her back flexed with anticipation. The darkness below, it was a strangely welcoming sight, smelling of dirt and age. She doubted it was very deep, but just to check she dislodged another shard from the window. Then she pinched two fingers to her lips, and with her tounge and the mandible at the very back of her mouth, she spun a long thin thread. She attached one end to the shard and pulled until she had about thirty feet of thread. Delight simmered in her body as she threw the shard down and watched the string bolt after it. She gasped at how quickly it hit the ground. Only less than half the string has fallen down. She could certainly make that.

The spider woman let it all sit, only for a moment. The twinge of uncertainty, the curiosity, the excitement, the approaching safety of this house. Feeling so many emotions after so long made it feel like her entire body was filled with sunlight. And all she wanted was more of it. So she leapt into pit. Into the delightful unknown.

[3 pages]


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