I Wrote to My Queen Saswati Chatterjee
A letter, marked in gold and copper. At the corners, I write my name in the spidery writing she knows to be mine. I dispatch it to the nearest cobweb and watch the babies eat it whole. And then I wait.
The next morning, the woman called Mother is still alive.
I watch her arms carefully during breakfast, for any trace of spider-web or spider-poison. I pick through her clothes, looking for broken spider bodies in case she had found them. The maids find me and chase me to my room in the attic.
A letter, marked in honey and milk. I find an old wine bottle and pour three drops onto my words – please please please.
The spiderwebs in my room are plentiful. The maids don’t come here anymore. I find the fattest spider and watch him eat the letter whole.
The old bitch strides into my room the next morning and throws the covers off me. From my corner, I watch her smirk as she holds up the fattest spider, dead.
A letter, marked with tears and sweat. I write and write and write and write. The morning passes and I grow hungry. I drag myself down the stairs. The wood is cold and my legs are sticky. The maids laugh at me. I curse them and eat the bread they throw at me. They sing at me as I leave:
Little freak spider girl,
Little freak spider girl beggin’ for bread,
Little freak spider girl climbing the stairs,
Little freak spider girl, we’ll squish her dead.
A letter, marked in blood and bone. I finish writing it and she comes in. I hastily stuff it into my mouth and chew as she watches, one eyebrow raised.
Come now, little freak. Spit it out.
Too late, I tell her in triumph. And now I’ll eat you too.
How? she taunts. How when your mouth is weak and your legs are bound? How when I-
A letter, marked in web and weave. I write it, words spasming across the walls, as my arms grow, wide and long and taut. I propel myself off the bed with astonishing speed. I land on the opposite wall, my feet sticking to it like adhesive. I pace the chamber, from ceiling to ceiling, my hands reaching opposite ends before my body has begun.
I hear her coming up the stairs. The maids have long ceased to haunt my floor. The maids are dead.
I hear they tripped over spiderwebs.
A letter, marked in hope and triumph. I take the stairs, one arm at a time. They creak under my weight and I laugh an almost-laugh, and watch a thousand spiders spill downstairs. They swell like a wave around me and I am propelled by their force, carried by their love. I hear them spill out of every nook and cranny and as they come skittering down the walls, I hear them say: We’re here, we’re here, we’re here.
I’ve eaten the last letter. No more letters.
I’ve spread myself along the length of the dining room. My feet go from end to end. I feel cobwebs form where they touch the cold walls. The walls crack open and the cobwebs fill them in. My family fills the halls, I am surrounded by them. Soon they will live in me. Soon, I will be Queen.
Outside, I hear them trying to set the house on fire. I want them to try. I want them to come, with their great blunt maces and swords and knives and their unending misbegotten arrogance. I will shatter it, as I have already shattered the house. It is only held together by the web that I’m spinning, that I’ve always spun. Somewhere in me, I delight in hoping that they will try to eat me.
Far beyond the windows, I see her. Still cold. Still terrible. Still here.
Maybe I shan’t eat her. Maybe I shall keep her in a room with her mouth and feet bound up and wait for her to write to me.
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