Red Flag

This flash story was originally published in C*nsorship Magazine, June 2021


Overnight, Cordelia built The Savoy out of silk.

It was extraordinary. I’ve never seen a spider web so complicated, so stylish. Multiple floors, layers upon layers of intricate netting, stretching from one corner of the window to the other, with remarkably solid foundations and an impressive roof that glittered in the sunlight. It was too big a space for herself alone and every day I expected to find that her family or her lover had moved in. But no, just a fly here and there, caught, I imagined, when I’d carefully crack open the window to let out cigarette smoke.

I loved her. Even when I was alone, I wasn’t, because Cordelia was there in her grand hotel of cobwebs in the corner, working on her décor while I sobbed quietly in bed, distracting me from stabbing my thighs with a steak knife by nimbly dancing down hallways made of silver thread, or simply dozing in her floss-like hammock, content in her self-made luxury setting.

How did I know that you weren’t The One for me?

When I saw the ease and total disregard with which you destroyed Cordelia’s masterpiece.

A thing of beauty, a product of hard work, pure, innocuous, a place of security, of safety, a home, built by nature’s magic, harmless. I told you not to. I said I thought it was pretty and I liked looking at the web and seeing how it developed and I had named the spider (as I name all insects that come into my home) and she wasn’t hurting anyone and I thought she looked pregnant so leave her the fuck alone. But you, with your pale blue shirtsleeve, wiped it all away, just like that, for no reason other than to remind me how easily you could destroy things that are beautiful and fragile. And with relish, too: your stupid smile when you wiped the remains of her life’s work onto my leggings despite my fury, you laughing when I jumped up to try and rescue her from the floor before you stepped on her, callously crushing her, and the babies she was likely housing, under the heel of your Adidas.

It was a warning, and I took heed.

If you could do that to Cordelia, what the fuck would you do to me?

(I have a new spider now called Regan; she’s busy building The Ritz, and you are not allowed in my house ever again).

3 Comments

  1. From the title, I knew there was something lurking about of which to be aware, but I would’ve never guessed a tale that included spiders.

    “It was a warning, and I took heed.

    If you could do that to Cordelia, what the fuck would you do to me?

    (I have a new spider now called Regan; she’s busy building The Ritz, and you are not allowed in my house ever again).”

    This is great work!

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