Land Grab

The buildings flow as one attached with lumber and nails and stories of conjoined life across two centuries. On one end the Cape Cod house, on the other a faded red barn, in the middle a woodshed simple and unadorned and wearing a rusted tin hat. My cat Lucky teaches her litter how to kill around cobwebbed corners in the woodshed’s chambers, earthen floor providing perfect purchase for nails to grip. She pounces with speed and soundless surprise on mice that skitter then squeak [defeat]. Lucky keeps the woodshed swept clean and expects the same from her litter, batting them into action with swift swipe of paw. Go, get moving! Wordless feline instructions hang in the air. Hang in the air like brown barn spiders the size of quarters suspended in gossamer webs under doorway jambs and in window corners. Mud-brown abdomens, smears of my fear, blobs cascading in drips like Christmas string lights. I run to the woodshed door in late morning, heart racing as I duck low into dank darkness and smell green wood drying. My eyes adjust. Lucky curls into a tight gray comma, her ear twitch the only movement when mischievous flies float in from summer heat to alight on a black-and-gray tufted triangle. I pull kittens into my lap and stroke softness and smile-all-the-while planning my escape past eight-legged bodies engorged from feasting while arachnid homemakers plan their own escape from a heat that climbs as they do, into rafters, ‘til evening breezes blow. The colony breeds, expands their land grab from woodshed to house. Christmas string lights brown and bulbous soon adorn the outside of two picture windows where inside Mom hangs spider plants and ferns and geraniums. We wake to find the view through glass onto rolling hills draped in gothic garland. Dad blasts them from their perch with a garden hose, diamonds of justice, a watery waving magic wand. 

Ann Kathryn Kelly lives and writes in New Hampshire’s Seacoast region. She’s an editor with Barren Magazine, a columnist with WOW! Women on Writing, and she works in the technology sector. Ann leads writing workshops for a nonprofit that offers therapeutic arts programming to people living with brain injury. Her essays have appeared in a number of literary journals.


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