Part I – The Meeting
It was a work of art – but it wasn’t meant for display. In fact, it was specifically crafted not to show. And that was a pity, in many ways, for it deserved to be seen: concentric polygons of the flimsiest silk, yet strong enough to survive the beating wings of the expected “guest.” A guest whose hundreds of eyes and lightning-fast reflexes were no match for the artwork’s radar-dodging design.
So there you have it; that is the conundrum; a work of art designed not to be visible to the hoped-for guest.
But this particular artist had a problem; one might say a “glaring problem!” The artist in question was Miss Spiderwoman, and her masterpiece an intricate web spun between the lowest branch of a scrub-oak and the tallest grasses of the meadow. Its stealthy nature had been the source of several lovely meals; but last night’s heavy dew had bejeweled the entire structure with glistening water droplets, like a multi-ringed necklace of color-catching diamonds. Now it was even prettier to behold – unless, of course, you were Miss Spiderwoman. Then it merely presaged a day of fasting.
She danced daintily into the center, and putting a leg on each of the main “guy lines” (as she was wont to do when trying to locate the position of a trapped and struggling morsel), she shook the entire web as vigorously as she could. The diamonds jiggled, splitting the morning sunlight into thousands of rainbows, but they all held on for dear life to their places on the necklace.
She tried many times, for after all, as king Robert Bruce of Scotland once observed, spiders are not quitters. Alas, the necklace shed not a single one of its tears.
Just then Mr. Hummingbird darted by. He was thirsty, so flapping his little wings hundreds of beats per minute, he suspended himself a few inches from the web, speared a water droplet with his curved bill and sucked it aboard. He repeated the maneuver a few more times, and was just about to be on his busy way, when Miss Spiderwoman coughed politely to get his attention and observed “Beautiful morning, sir, don’t you think?” “Why yes, it most certainly is” replied the hummingbird, a little taken aback at being engaged in conversation by a spider. Spiders and hummingbirds, you must realize, don’t normally acknowledge each other. “I have noticed you fly by, on divers occasions and, if you’ll pardon my being so presumptuous as to offer a personal comment, I am in awe of both your dexterity of flight and of your multicolored feather jacket.” She blushed. So did the hummingbird. “That, that is fri-fri-fri-ghtfully kind of you,” stuttered the hummingbird, “in truth, I have oft remarked to myself, for I am given to such musings, on the highly intricate engineering of your delightfully constructed domicile!” They both blushed again.
“Alas, I fear, it may no longer serve its purpose,” said the spider wistfully. “I am sorry to hear that. May I be so forward as to inquire into the reason for it’s becoming obsolete?” “The cause of the problem is simple, really,” said the spider, “but the solution resists my boldest efforts.” She sighed (a little self-pityingly, were the truth to be told) and went on. “It’s not easy being a Black Widow. No man about to do the chores. You may have noticed that these water droplets are advertising the existence of my web. I fear, therefore, that today may be a hungry one for me!” She dropped her eyes modestly, and wrung her legs – all eight of them.
The hummingbird was finding it taxing to remain so long in the same position, so he said, “Can you excuse me a minute?” and darted off to release the tension in his wings. Moments later he was back and asked, “Is there any way I can be of assistance?” “Well, I don’t like to presume upon your generosity, nor do I wish it to appear as if I have been prying into your personal affairs, but I did notice you drinking several water droplets from my web …” “I am so sorry,” interrupted the hummingbird, “I should, of course, have asked permission, or drunk, instead, from the cup of that tulip over there.” “No, no, no, I am not at all objecting to your choosing to have a drink at my place” said the spider reassuringly. “In fact, that is precisely how you may be of assistance to me. You see the water droplets are calling attention to the presence of my web and, I fear I shall not manage to trap a meal at all today! I’d be ever so grateful to you, were you to drink up all of the droplets with your elegant curved bill.” The hummingbird was quite relieved that he wasn’t being accused of bad manners, and chuffed at being asked for help. “I should be delighted to do exactly as you request,” and suiting the action to the word, he began to vacuum the entire web. In less than no time the web was dry enough to deceive even the 2,700 eyes of a dragonfly. Truth be told, the hummingbird’s interior was sloshing about a bit, and he was having to beat his wings even more rapidly to bear the extra weight aloft. But he felt really proud of his good deed, and the spider lavished praise and gratitude on him. “Do call again,” she coyly intoned. “Thank you kindly for the invitation,” responded the hummingbird and, dipping his wings in salute, he flew off.
Spiderwoman took up her position once more, in the nexus of the web and settled back confidently to wait. She was feeling really good. She’d made a new friend, the sun was shining, and lots of flying insects were buzzing about their business.
Part II – The DyingFly-by-day was quite young , but he had learned his trade well, had excellent flying skills, better than average eyesight, and first-rate reflexes. He had just come from teasing a horse; walking all over its back and neck and sides; inserting his long proboscis and extracting drinks of nice, warm blood. The horse would flinch, skin quivering like ripples on a pond, stamp a foot agitatedly on the ground, and flick his long tail like a whip at the site of the surgery. But no matter how fast the tail came, Fly-by-day was always too fast for it. Seconds later, he was back for more. He smiled now as he remembered. After nine or ten “treatments” the horse had galloped off, furiously trying to dislodge his uninvited guest. Fly-by-day laughed aloud. Now don’t get me wrong, Fly-by-day is not an evil person; not sadistic or mean-spirited; nor was he wont to gloat over the discomfort of a fellow creature. It was simply that he needed food, and he very much admired his ability to look out for his own needs; most of the time! But just at that moment, with tears in his many eyes from laughter and the morning sun shining straight at him, he hit an invisible, elasticized obstruction. It didn’t hurt at all but it did surprise him. It oscillated backwards and forwards a few times. Now he could see it clearly; it looked like flimsy, silken strands; shouldn’t be a big deal. One wing and two feet were stuck to the silky stuff. He pushed down with two more feet to free himself and these feet also stuck fast. He shook himself vigorously (much like the horse had done) but only managed to jam the second wing. He panicked and pushed his last two free feet against the silk – and they, also, stuck fast.
In her control center, the spider quickly figured out where her first meal of the day had lodged. The uninvited guest of the horse, was now the unintended but very welcome guest of Spiderwoman. She arrived at the site, expertly assessed the size of the fly, and instantly set about tying him up in a ball of sticky web stuff. Fly-by-day was now too scared to move and was unable to, even if he had wanted. Then, suddenly, an injection (much like he had done to the horse) and he began to feel woozy. “Count backwards from eight,” admonished the spider. He only got as far as six, and he passed out.
Within minutes, Spiderwoman liquefied his interior and sucked him out of his spacesuit, leaving only a desiccated shell. The substance-sucking spider on the hummingbird-sucked-dry web completed the cycle on the horse-blood-sucking Fly-by-day.
She was well into her meal when she heard the ground reverberate. The horse, now being teased by a brother of Fly-by-day, galloped wildly in her direction. Before she had time to wipe her mouth, the huge brute had crashed through her web, which stuck to his heaving flank, together with the remains of her meal and her frightened self. Then the horse flicked his mighty tail – and the lights went out. The hummingbird saw it all happen. His little heart exploded in grief for his newfound friend; he fell from the heavens, landed with a thud on the sun-scorched earth, rolled onto his back, stuck his two little legs in the air, and expired.
Part III – The Beginning
Three invisible, immaterial, mystical umbilical cords undulated into the fifth dimension, acting as conduits for the three newly released souls. The soul of Fly-by-day was the first to arrive – a brilliant white light with fuzzy edges and an orange core. Next came the soul of Spiderwoman – a yellow aura with pink interior. Finally, came the soul of Mr. Hummingbird – purple fringe with blue center.
The three souls coalesced and, if you could see it, you would have witnessed the most extraordinary dance – a merging and parting, a uniting and a separating of three soul mates. Laughter filled the air until the ecstasy of their release was complete. Finally, the laughter subsided, and then I heard them speak.
White-orange said “Wow! That felt so real. I’m sorry I teased that horse, and I really felt fear when you were trussing me up!” I know” said yellow-pink “I quite enjoyed that piece, and liberating you from your spacesuit. But I think I felt the same as you, when the horsetail smacked me.” “How about you?” they both asked of purple-blue. Purple-blue said “Isn’t it amazing how every time we incarnate, we totally forget the drama we’ve pre-planned together! Each time, as we are about to go back, I promise myself, this time I will definitely remember, but I don’t. I had no idea who you were when I met you as Spiderwoman, even though that was precisely the spacesuit we had agreed upon for you.” “I know, I know” chipped in white-orange excitedly. “I tried the same thing, but when I actually found myself in the Fly-by-day spacesuit, I really believed that that is who I was!” “You know,” said yellow-pink to purple-blue “when I first saw you sipping the droplets from my web, I had a kind of déjá-vu experience. For a split second, I remembered that we had rehearsed it before we descended. But it was instantly gone again. Don’t you hate when that happens!”
“I can’t wait until green-violet arrives,” said white-orange. “I wonder what it was like being in that huge body? I’m kinda glad I prodded him a few times!”
“Well, that’s our math lesson over for today,” said purple-blue. “I’m sure Teacher will be very pleased with us – hummingbird has two legs, horse has four, fly-by-day has six and Spiderwoman has eight. How about next time we do an alphabet?”
The three auras merged once more and formed a beautiful, all-seeing eye. With absolute love and total compassion they watched and encouraged the horse as he lived out the rest of his incarnation and approached his designated exit.
Still trying to escape the torturing fly, the horse galloped heedlessly towards a cliff. Fifty feet below, the river patiently awaited his spacesuit. At an infinite distance of nearness, the eye awaited his soul.