Intermission 1D (Telling Tales)
For a Moment, It Frightened Her
Long fingers of morning reached through the window and touched the far wall. It was dawn, and birds were just beginning their chorus. The princess’s eyes fluttered open. Surrounding her was an enormous canopy, the likes of which she had never seen. The thread shimmered in the light, a more brilliant gold than any fabric the princess had ever seen. The spider rested on the pillow beside her, breathing easily in a peaceful doze. The princess was so happy that she fell back asleep immediately.
When she woke again, the princess found the spider delicately taking down the beautiful web.
“Oh please,” said the princess, “you worked so hard! Does it have to go away?”
“You want to sleep forever?” the spider asked.
“I feel as if I could,” the princess said with a smile and a stretch.
The spider smiled back, tossing away something large and tangled. “That doesn’t work out so well, I’ve heard,” said the spider.
The princess yawned. “I feel wonderful!”
“What did you dream about?” the spider asked.
“I can’t remember!” said the princess, delighted. “No monsters! No horrors! No nightmares at all!”
“Well, that’s a start,” said the spider, after creating a wide gap in the web for the princess to crawl through.
“I don’t know how to thank you,” said the princess.
“I really liked that chocolate cake,” suggested the spider. The princess smiled and skipped away down to breakfast.
The court was astounded. The princess looked healthier, her eyes were brighter, and her mood was light. The princess ate her breakfast with more of an appetite than she had showed in year. She answered her parents’ questions, and if she was more cryptic than she had been in the past, she was also more focused, so hardly anyone noticed. Her parents were happy because she was happy, and didn’t want to inquire too far into the reasons why.
“What’s that lovely tune?” her mother asked. The princess wasn’t even aware she had been humming. It was a simple air, mysterious, and it sounded a trifle sad.
“I don’t know,” said the princess. “Do we have any chocolate cake?”
That evening, the princess set out for the spider a side of lamb, a roasted potato, chocolate cake, and a goblet of wine, which had been a real trick to smuggle away, let me tell you. The spider crawled out from behind her bedside table, now the size of a small plate.
“That,” said the spider, “was even better than yesterday. Now, it’s time for bed.”
The princess buried herself down into her sheets once more and watched as the spider went to work. Thread after thread, the princess watched until her eyelids once again grew heavy.
In the morning as she brushed the tangles from her hair, the princess tried to recall her dreams, but could only remember half-waking glimpses of the spider at work. She remembered the spiraling design at the ceiling swirling down to the floor at the beginning. She remembered the spider resting on her pillow at the end. Then she remembered the thumping sound of a grasshopper leaping, the dull weight of its body striking the golden web, and panicked insect legs struggling to get free, and for a moment it frightened her.
“I might have had a bad dream,” she said to the spider, “but all I remember is the terrible sound of a grasshopper.”
“Ha,” said the spider. “You almost had a bad dream. Not to worry about that. I took care of that.”