It did not look as if it would go the distance.
My son had come running to me.
\”Dad. There\’s a wee bird over there with a huge beastie on it.\”
And so there was. A spider, toiling at its web, a bright pustule of iridescent green sprouting wavering filaments. The bird was clearly distressed.
\”Get it off it, dad, \” my son whined.
The web was unusual. I have never seen the like. Where other webs are uniformly flat, however intricate, this one was a sphere of shimmering gossamer.
A dandelion clock. Round and round it the spider went, spitting out its silk. The little bird shivered and squawked.
\”Get it off!\”
The closer I watched – transfixed and undecided, failing my child – the more unsettled I felt. The palm of my right hand pressed tight on the damp moss, supporting my weight. I could not reach out to dislodge the spider. I did not want to make contact.
A great shadow bore down on my neck as a pocket of cloud swallowed the sun. Dizzy, I snatched up a twig with my left hand and prodded gingerly, spastically at the offending growth. There was something at the core of the sphere. Something dull and opaque.
I am an indifferent parent. I have no stomach for it, I realized then. Neither was the slender stick equal to the task. It missed and the sphere burst open like an obscene spore, ashy tendrils ballooning out and releasing the contents of the sac.
The bird screamed and fought to release its wings. The spider scuttled this way and that, quite unable to repair the damage. An egg. Milky white and fragile as a pulsing tumor.
I looked at my son. The fury in his eyes. The stick lay heavy in my hand.
You can\’t beat an omelet without breaking eggs.