A fable about love, life, and the love of life
This sample chapter was originally published as a short story in The Roswell Literary Review:
Mr. Spider's Web
by Linda Sonna
The little horse awakens one morning to discover that a spider has woven a giant web across the window opening of his stall. Each fine, silky strand has been placed just so, and the grand weaving glistens and gleams in the morning light.
"Mr. Spider, you will have to do your building elsewhere. When I put my head outside, your kitchen will be ruined," the little horse tells him.
The spider rests quietly on the wall nearby and does not answer. The little horse thinks he may be sleeping. Although he would like to put his nose outside the window to sniff the clover and nod at the barn boy who is making his rounds, the little horse doesn't want to disturb the web before the spider's breakfast has arrived. So he waits.
Finally a large fly is caught. Instead of running over to eat it, the spider stays perfectly still.
"The little horse nudges the spider with his nose. "Oops!" he cries as the spider falls to the ground and scurries away. The little horse sticks his head out of his window, shredding the web, and proceeds to enjoy what remains of the morning sun. He quickly forgets all about the spider and his web.
The next morning the little horse awakens to find a new web stretched across his window opening, and the spider is waiting nearby.
"Mr. Spider!" whinnies the little horse. "I told you yesterday, you must not build your kitchen here! This is MY window, and I have to put my head outside! I need to get some sunshine!"
The spider does not move or answer. The little horse paws the ground and prances in place, a bundle of nervous frustration. Finally he trots to the window and thrusts his head outside, shredding the web as he does so. He looks down in time to see Mr. Spider slowly crawling away and disappearing between the wooden wall slats..
The little horse awakens on the third morning and finds that once again Mr. Spider is standing next to a beautiful kitchen that must have taken all night to build.
"Dumb old spider," he mutters. "Are you going to starve before you learn to build your web elsewhere?" The little horse sticks his head out his window and closes his eyes as the filmy strands of the shredded web settle over his muzzle.
He is still trying to calm himself when he hears a small voice. "Don't worry about me, lad," says Mr. Spider. "I need less food than you think."
"But I've told you time and again, I need my window! You have to build your webs somewhere else!"
"This is your spot for sunning. It is my spot for web-building."
"But why here? You could go anywhere, but I'm trapped! This is the only window I've got."
"Trapped? No, I think we have both chosen this spot."
The little horse ponders the spider's words. It is true he cannot bring himself to trade the safety of his stable for a journey into the vast unknown, however much he might long to explore the world beyond his stall. "Well, you are going to be very unhappy when I tear up your kitchen each day," he warns the spider.
"Perhaps it is true that I will be, as you say, unhappy."
"Ah, yes, that seems like such a good question, doesn't it? But 'why' is the kind of question even very good answers do not help."
Seeing the little horse's confusion, Mr. Spider explains, "I use this window to build my web. You use this window to look outside. I shall continue to build my webs here, and you shall continue to look outside. All I ask is one small favor. Would you take a moment to look at my webs before you shred them?"
The little horse nods.
After that, the little horse awakens each morning to find a brand new web stretched across his window opening. Every day he studies the intricacy and symmetry of the grand weavings, delighting in the sight of sunbeams playing on the silvered strands. He is awe-struck by the infinite variety of the webs, no two of which are exactly like.
And after gazing at the masterpiece each morning, the little horse smiles at Mr. Spider before thrusting his head outside to greet the barnboy.
And every morning, just before he crawls away, Mr. Spider smiles back.