Eight: Freaking Spiders

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"If two wrong don't make a right, try three."

~Anonymous





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I have to give a long exhale as I slump into the driver's seat of the car. It's almost seven o'clock, the girls are starving, I'm $125 poorer, but at least the entirety of Chestnut Ridge knows that I am now the proud caretaker of three nieces.

"So...dinner?" Jemma asks, making that the sixteenth time someone has mentioned food in the last hour.

"We're having McDonald's," I say. "Now, everyone, please just shut up for a tiny fraction of a second, and we'll listen to this rockin' Van Halen song, okay? Okay."

I start the engine and, for a moment, all is quiet except for the epic guitar riffs coming from the radio. All is peaceful.

Until Eloise screams. "SPIDER!"

I nearly swerve off the road, but manage to regain control. "What?!"

"Kill it!" Jemma shouts, unbuckling her seatbelt and taking off her black boot.

"No!" I cry. "Jemma! Back in your seat! Now!"

"I'm coming for you demon!" Jemma continues.

Eloise is crouched in her seat, arms flung over her head. "Hurry! It's getting closer!"

Dusty is craning her neck as far as she can despite the constraints of her carseat to get a good look. "Is that a red hourglass? IS THAT A BLACK WIDOW?! I saw them on PBS once, Eloise! THEY CAN KILL YOU IN ONE BITE!"

That makes Eloise scream even louder.

"Shut up!" I yell. "Jemma! Back in your seat! I'm pulling over!"

The car bumps along the shoulder before coming to an abrupt stop on the grass.

I throw my seatbelt off and fling open the back door. "Okay, okay, back up!"

I lean inside and grab Jemma's boot. I locate the spider dangling from one of the air vents and promptly smash it.

I sigh and glare at the girls, who are staring back at me with wide eyes. "We good?"

They nod.

"Great."

I slam the door.


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  Finally, we're on the road back home. From what I can tell, the girls are full on McNuggets, fries, and orange Fanta—three things that Aimee would strongly disapprove of.

But after a simple grocery trip turned into an almost four-hour ordeal...I don't think I did too bad.

"Can we watch a show when we get home?" Jemma asks.

"Why not?" I sigh.

I think I earned at least a little respect when I killed the spider. They probably think I'm brave, but I don't tell them the real reason I'm not afraid.

My house (where they're staying for six months) used to be infested with giant wood spiders, and I would have to kill at least three a day for almost five years.

I make a mental note to check under their covers tonight, just in case. Another screaming meltdown is the last thing I need.

"Also, Aunt Beverly?" Eloise asks.

"Yes?"

"When does school start?"

I keep one eye on the road, and glance through the dozens of texts from Aimee. "It starts..." I squint at the text, not believing it at first. "Oh my—what...it starts tomorrow."

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