a postcard story about house rules and house spiders

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House Spiders

a postcard story about house rules and house spiders

“I hope you’re not scared of spiders,” said Lady Abygale. “We get many crawling guests here in Fleam House, and we have two rules. One: let them live. Two: when it is time, let them outside. As housemother, it is my duty to enforce these.”

I agreed. What else could I do? Lady Abygale had advertised the furnished basement of Fleam House free for a single mother with a newborn. I was young and desperate. Spiders were the least of my worries. We moved in, and for a while, all was well. I saw them sometimes: a brown recluse unfolding from a crevice in the brickwork, or an orb weaver stringing silk between ceiling beams.

My only worry was Holly. She was a sickly thing, and she practically collected spider bites. The longer we stayed, the bigger the bites, and the bigger the spiders lurking in the corners of her room. Holly grew weak. I resisted the urge to squish every scuttling shadow i saw. “This is their house as much as anyone’s,” Lady Abygale reminded me. “You must tell me if the rules have been broken.”

Still, I fretted. One morning I snuck up to Lady Abygale’s study. In her desk I discovered dozens of ads dating back decades. Always inviting a mother and newborn to Fleam House. A cold sweat seized me. I ran back downstairs to find a spider the size of a chandelier hanging over Holly. I screamed and scooped her up. The walls crawled with legs. I ran from the house with my baby in my arms.

I never returned, not even to fetch my things. Perhaps that’s why the listings for Fleam House are always furnished. When I saw Lady Abygale’s ad in the paper the next week, I recalled her house rules. Let the crawling guests live. When the time comes, let them leave. And I realized that we were not the inhabitants meant to abide by them.

This was last April 2021's story for Postcards From the Future subscribers!


Short story written by Peter Chiykowski

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Story prompt taken from a photo by Denny Muller

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