I (sometimes) call myself Mr. Pondersome. I'm a rather wordy, weirdy person. I say hullo a lot. I write a lot more. While you're here, why not give some of it a read?

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

"Spider, Worm and the Butterfly" (a.k.a. The Story of an Up-turned Plant Pot in the Rain)


So I have something. It's a short story, one of the few short stories that I've written recently that I am sufficiently happy with. Which isn't to say that I have a clue what it's about.

Well, I do for the most part. "Spider, Worm and the Butterfly" is just one of those things that you feel compelled to write down even though you're not quite sure what the moral or purpose of it is. It originated from a story that I wrote when I was only yea high (I'll leave you to decide the precise measurement of 'yea') and then, one particularly rainy afternoon in Devon, I decided to revisit it. Butterfly is a new character who I implemented after realising that Fly, the original third companion, would probably be lying dismembered on Spider's web. It is his house after all.

I'll let you decide whether this is still a children's story or if it's something else entirely. I'd be tempted to say 'Young Adult', if the thought of the two words paired together didn't conjure up horrible images of misunderstood vampires and other superhuman teens. Let's just call it 'Grown Up' for the time being...


That up-turned plant pot by the fence in the garden. You know, the one that’s over there. That’s Spider’s plant pot, that is. Occasionally he has visitors; usually when it rains.

            Most of the time Spider eats his visitors. Worm, on the other hand, is an old acquaintance. A regular fixture, you might even say.

            “Evening.” Worm said, crawling in through the usual crack one day.

            Spider shuffled in his web, barely looking down at his guest. “Wet again, is it?”

            “Tipping it down.”

            Spider sighed. “Make yourself comfortable.”

            Worm curled up in the opposite corner as Spider lowered himself to the ground. Worm scrutinised the web, freshly adorned with mangled flies.

            “I’m not interrupting dinner or anything, am I?”

            Spider glanced back. “That? Just bluebottles. My dessert, really.”

            He scuttled to a space beside Worm and prodded at a piece of leaf with one of his front legs. “Mess, mess. Always mess.”

            Worm stared outside. “It’s actually getting worse out there, I’d say.”

            Spider stepped back towards the crack. “Possibly. It must be particularly bad if you’ve actually found the energy to squirm your way out of that cushy little daisy patch of yours.”

            “Worst this month.” Worm grumbled. “I like my drizzle, don’t get me wrong. I love a good bit of drizzle. That’s just something else.”

            “Hmm.” Spider’s jaws twitched. He had known Worm for roughly two months now. All he ever did was talk about rain. And yet Spider just didn't have the stomach for wriggling things. It was a shame really.

            Worm watched Spider quietly from behind. Spider was generally a good sport when it came to hospitality but he had so many legs. Worm tended to keep away from the legged ones. They moved far too easily for his liking.

            “Rain.” Spider said.

            “Yes.” Worm said.


            Spider stepped forward.

            “Seen something?” Worm slid ahead of him. “Not lightning?”

            A curious shape was falling through the rain. Tumbling, hovering, descending.

            “Wings.” Spider muttered, captivated by the rapid folding and unfolding of bright colours, “One of those winged beasts.”

            “It’s no bird.” Worm insisted, “Too small.”

            The colours slowed and dithered an inch above the ground before finally touching down. The wings folded back to reveal six long spindly limbs.

            “Excuse me.” The winged thing said. She spoke the words as if something else was to follow them. Instead she looked at Spider expectantly. He arched his legs only to stumble backwards.

            “I am Butterfly.” Continued the beast that wasn’t a bird, as she strode in.

            “Worm.” Worm replied, reclining against his usual spot.

            “I’m Spider.” Spider spoke, raising his voice, “Fine way to go about it, forcing the rightful homeowner aside. Most of the time people ask permission to enter.”

            Butterfly fluttered around the interior of the up-turned plant pot.

            “Just what are you doing?” Spider asked, baffled by such an incredible lack of manners.

            “Did you make it or find it?” Butterfly asked, completely ignoring his question.

            “I beg your pardon?”

            “This shelter. Did you make it or find it?”

            Spider stopped to think. “A bit of both. I renovated it.”

            “Do you like it?” Worm chimed in.

            Butterfly landed. “It will do.”

            Spider turned away. “I’m so glad. Such a discerning taste.” before mumbling, “Bloody cheek.”

            “I’m actually quite fond of it, myself.” Worm said, “Wouldn’t do for a permanent residence, of course. I’m an earth-dweller: live for the soil beneath my segments.” Spider glared down at him from atop the web. “But it’s his place, obviously.” He added hastily.

            Butterfly turned to regard Worm fully. “An earth-dweller, you say?”

            “One of many.” Worm said with a wink.

            “I have crossed the surface of the earth before but never thought to go under it.” Butterfly said, as if that would be enough. Worm waited for more nevertheless.

            “He’s an earth-dweller, alright.” Spider announced, “An earth-dweller afraid of getting damp.”

            “Hey!” Worm straightened himself. “I said I like drizzle!”

            “So you should love a good hard downpour even more.” Spider retorted, “And yet you’re always in here. With me.”

            “Explosions!” Worm shouted, “It’s the explosions I can’t stand!”

            “If you say so.” Spider replied curtly.

            Butterfly continued to flutter across the enclosed space. Spider tapped his middle legs impatiently.

            “It’s not going to get any bigger, you know.” He grumbled.

            “I know.” Butterfly replied, “I am taking in all the angles.”

            “It’s a cylinder.” Spider said between clenched jaws.

            “Then why does it slope up the top?” Butterfly inquired, finally landing.

            Spider opened his jaws but had to close them again. Come to think of it, the answer was beyond him.

            “Good question.” Worm spoke, hoping to fill the silence.

            The silence stretched on regardless, disturbed only by the flickering of Butterfly’s wings. They all gazed out through the crack. The rain drops were getting smaller, becoming lighter.

            “Strange bedfellows.” Spider announced, attempting to recite a passage he had heard once.

            “A flower bed.” Butterfly added without any apparent thought.

            Worm did not speak. He always had something to contribute, normally about wet weather. It just didn't seem appropriate now. He curled up again.

            Butterfly’s wings flapped less and less before laying out flat on the ground. Spider returned to his web with quiet careful movements. The night passed along with the rain.


            Spider rose first. He plucked a leftover bluebottle from the web and chewed on its thorax thoughtfully. It took him a short while to remember Butterfly and the fact that she was now missing.

            He climbed off the web and nudged Worm awake.

            “Butterfly’s gone.”

            Worm stretched outward. “That’s a shame. Did you see her leave?”


            Worm squirmed forward. “Nice. Very colourful. Bit...”

            “Aloof?” Spider offered.

            “I suppose.” Worm looked directly at him. “Well, it was jolly decent of you to put me up again.”

            “Heading off already, are you?”

            “Seems sensible.” Worm glanced outside. The sun was rising. The dew on the daisy patch sparkled, even from a yard away. “Long day ahead of me.”

            “If you say so.” Spider nodded.

            “Thanks again.” Worm said, slipping through the hole and out into the cold.

            Spider watched him leave. He wished that he had a long day ahead of him. Days for Spider mostly involved waiting and thinking in order to fill the waiting.

            He thought about Butterfly for a little while. The rain had stopped a while ago so she must have flown off shortly after. He doubted that she'd even slept. She was very confused, that little Butterfly. It occurred to Spider that most little butterflies must be confused: trapping themselves in their own cocoons only to burst out of them suddenly one day, never to even think about looking back.

            Spider wondered if he would ever see Butterfly again. To be honest, he hadn't thought much of her whilst she was around but she seemed interesting. Very colourful, as Worm had put it.

It seemed silly to Spider, to think that she would come visit again. She had explored the plant pot, rested for a while and then broke free. It was just the way with winged creatures. Except flies. Flies made a lot of mistakes.

            Spider crept back up his web and waited. Visitors would come into his up-turned plant pot home. He knew this. And visitors do come. Normally when it rains.

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