The Gladiator and the Spider

I hate spiders, I’m scared of them. Tiny ones I can just about manage with a small amount of panic, and I can occasionally pluck up the courage to stand on one, but otherwise I run off. I am definitely more scared of the spider than it is of me. When I went to Reading I thought I’d be safe from all eight-legged monstrosities. The rooms seemed better sealed than the house with a plethora of holes and cracks back home and it was virtually impossible to have one come into my room. 

I should have been warned when one of my flatmates regaled a story a couple of weeks back at how he woke up with a huge spider on his face, and I should have assumed that, now being ‘spider season’ I might come across one. Today was that day. I was laying on my bed reading one of mum’s posts when I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. I looked at it thinking it would just be some fluff that’s rolling in the breeze of the open window, but when I looked it was brown and WAY too fast to be rolling fluff….it was a spider *shudders* 

My mouth made a squeaking noise and I instantly stood up on the bed, cowering and my skin crawling. Luckily Ed was here to save the day.

“ED!” I half shouted through the wall as he was in the shower “There’s a spider.” There was no response. Perhaps he thought I was being silly and could kill it myself like I had to when I was at home (Vie is more scared of dead spiders than alive ones) but it was a big spider, at least in my eyes, and there had been that huge thing earlier about flesh eating spiders. I did not want to go anywhere near that thing. Oh, but it was travelling towards the bed. I called for Ed again. Still no reply. I needed rescuing. I took a small window of opportunity and fled to the bathroom where I hoped it wouldn’t crawl through the gap between the door and the floor. 

“There’s a spider!” I said. 

“How big is it?” He asked. Big enough. Big enough for me to cower away, and a bathroom. He told me to give him a minute as he finished in the shower. No Ed, it needs to be killed now! I let him finish in the shower and fled back to my bed to keep an eye on it, giving a useful narrative. “It’s in my clothes……now it’s in YOUR clothes.”

Ed came out, in not much more than a towel, he had a piece of tissue ready in his hand for an attack on the spider. There was a moment of calm, like we were waiting in the trenches, as he started to pick up pieces of clothes to find the spider. I stared, not wanting to miss it if it if it started hurtling towards me with ferocious speed. Suddenly we were gladiators in the ring. I was the emperor demanding that blood be drawn in the arena, Ed was the gladiator, more specifically a bestiarius- skilled at fighting beasts (that would be the spider) and the game was on. 

“Aaaaah!” Ed screamed when the spider unravelled itself from one of the shirts he was holding and it spilled onto the floor by the bed, it reminded me of so many other spider-stories. I backed away not wanting my flesh to be eaten or anything by the beast. Ed whacked a tissue-filled fist onto the ground, hopefully the spider was dead. It was not dead. It happened quickly, like any attack would. Ed telling the spider to die, me telling Ed to kill the spider. (spiders are the only times I get violent) and then, eventually, the spider dying. I let out a breath I had been holding while I waited for the combat to end. It was tense stuff. 

“Now” I said “Flush it or throw it out of the window.” and so Ed flushed it. 

I sat there, thinking about how I should write a post about this, because it was hilarious and terrifying, and perhaps because my step-dad used to share spider-news with Vie and I made me want to share it. Also thinking of other stories. There are too many to name here right now, perhaps it shall be another post later, and is an hour long dramatised conversation in itself, which one sparked up a huge chain of spider tales in a p.e lesson, but There we go.

“Don’t look in the toilet.” Ed says, finally coming out of the bathroom.

“Why?” I asked, thinking how could the spider possibly still be alive?

“The spider.” He replied. “It is dead. But it’s floating at the top.” Vie’s worst nightmare. And an idea that gives me the creeps. The lesson of this story is to always throw your spiders out of the window.   


Two People, Two Years

Today is a rather celebratory day for me, even if I have spent the day in lectures, cooking and watching unhealthy amounts of Netflix. The thing is that I am supposed to be celebrating the second year me and Ed have been together. The problem with living in different downs is it makes it too hard to do it properly. I have given him his gift already, a notebook in which I hand-wrote every memory we had together in chronological order, and to celebrate today I decided to share with you the first part of the story: how we came to be dating. 


It started at midnight, which in fairy tales is when a lot of fateful things happen. It was November 19th 2011. We could have met two days before when we were on the same trip and knew the same people, but we didn’t. Perhaps if I took the hopeless Romantic approach I would say fate didn’t want us to meet then, especially when on that day he had a girlfriend. He did not on the 19th. At midnight I clambered on to a mini-bus (not a coach that used to be a pumpkin) as I was going on a school trip to Greece. As luck would have it the rest of the sixth formers packed too much and there wasn’t a seat for me on the designated “sixth form” bus. I made an awful joke as I sat down and awkwardly waited. Ed climbed onto the bus just a few minutes after and sat down next to me. As luck would have it it was the only seat left. At first it was awkward because we didn’t know each other at all and we were both pretty reclusive in our personalities, but we bonded quickly over music, archaeology and classics and our hobbies. We chatted for a while until we were too tired and fell asleep. I don’t know if I believe in love at first sight, but I knew I kind of liked him. 

When we got to Greece we had an evening in Athens, having been to Sounion, and I asked to hang out with him as the sixth formers (whose only reasons for going on the trip were to drink booze and smoke goodness-knows-what) weren’t the sort of people I enjoyed hanging out with. We went to a shop and I bought a souvenir or two to remember the trip. On the way out I looked at the bracelets they had displayed, and then I walked away. Half an hour later the men from the store approached me. 

“May you show us your pockets?” They said in broken English. 

“Excuse me?” 

“Did you steal something?” What?! As far as my memory serves I have never stolen anything. For some reason at that moment I thought telling them “No. I promise. I’m a girl guide.” would help the situation as I showed them all of my pockets and the contents of my bag. They asked me to be escorted to the shop. I admit I was scared. I was shaking. ED, who at this point I hadn’t even known for 24, came with me as I could barely talk and a second pair of eyes would perhaps help my case. We watched the CCTV footage they showed us and I explained how it must have been my iPod which I had in my hand to keep track of the time. Ed explained that I was the sort of person who would never intentionally against the law while all I could think to say in my head was “ego Britannica sum!”. They accepted my apology and let me go, and for the rest of the evening every time they saw me they patted my shoulder and showered me is “sorry”. 

We hung out a lot on the Greece trip. On the Acropolis, at the museums, and other sites. One evening I came into his hotel room while a person I shared the hotel room with was showering and wanted privacy. There I taught him how to use twitter and he fixed mums camera which I had dropped at the airport (and almost left in Delphi, sorry mum). And we talked and talked. At meal times we sat opposite each other and, like a gentleman would do on a date, he would pour my water. I bet he would have helped me into my chair if he could, but the space was next to the wall. 

One evening some of the students got tipsy and there was a huge row over a boy. Ed and I escaped the room where all the drama was happening and made our way to the fourth floor. We raced there. I took the stairs, two at a time, while he used the elevator. It was a close draw but I won. While we were hiding from the rest of the school we talked a bit and he admitted he liked this other girl. I would be lying if I said my heart didn’t sink, just a little bit. 

On the minibus home from the airport we sat next to each other on the mini-bus again, but the girl he liked flanked his other side. I fell asleep. So did he. And so did she. It was, theoretically a menage a tois, as there were three of us sleeping together, but it wasn’t like that. When we stopped at a station to get food the girl and a boy very much into card tricks traded places and the three of us stayed up the rest of the night. We recited Going On a Bear Hunt off by heart and discussed just about everything. I devised a plan to get his number which included getting other peoples to make it look normal, and it worked. 

After Greece we texted a lot and hung out in school and I would spend my lunch times walking in circles to “bump into” him. One day I saw him going through A-block corridor so sprinted across the car park and through the hall and positioned myself to seem as if I had been there forever. 

“You seen Vie?” I asked. I knew perfectly where she was. 

“No. I haven’t.”

“I’ve been looking for her all lunch time. Where are you going?” 


“I’ll come with you, maybe she’s there doing last minute homework…” Needless to say she wasn’t in the library but I said that if she wasn’t there then I’d never find her, and used it as an excuse to stay in his company. Some people would call that sweet, others would call it creepy. They go sort of hand in hand. 

February was the first time we hung out outside of school grounds. It was a snow day and Vie wanted more sleep  so I texted him asking if he wanted a snowball fight. We met up, and there I met his mum, dog and little sister and we had a snowball fight. By the end we were drenched and I was freezing cold so I was invited back to his house for hot chocolates and to dry off. We spent the majority of the day in his room playing computer games and laughing about it. I was sat on his lap and he had his arms around me and occasionally we snuggled. This was definitely not what “friends” did. But when people asked us if we were a thing we would scoff and say no. I left in the evening and he walked me home. As we parted we hugged, and he may have kissed me on the cheek but I’m not sure. After that day we hung out every couple of weeks doing the same sort of things. 

On march something made me upset, and I knew that I wanted to talk to him about it, so I went to his house in tears. The door was open as he had just got home and I just stood there.

“Hey.” I said pretending to smile. 

“Hey!” He replied a little shocked to see me. And in that instant I broke into tears. He led me into the house and sat me down while I explained everything and he cuddled and consoled me and made jokes until I smiled. When I left he hugged me goodbye which we hadn’t done since February. Honestly, I was fairly confused about us. I knew I definitely liked him at that point, but I wasn’t so sure if he felt the same or not so I kept quiet for another couple of months. We hung out as usual, and I would come to his house every couple of days like I normally did. Around May I knew I didn’t want to be “just friends” anymore, but I was too scared to say it myself as I had tried before but chickened out. So I wrote a letter and walked across the park to post it through the door. I got half way across the park and stood there, stalling myself for forty minutes, to an hour, debating if I should or not. It was raining hard that day. Eventually I ran out of time and I had to go home to make it to Vie’s A.S performance for Theatre Studies so I did not send the letter. 

Instead we met up on Sunday and I packed the letter in to my bag, just in case. I don’t remember the details of the 6th of May 2011, I know I bought white choc-chip cookies as, I learned in Greece on an evening where we all dared him to have his finger nails painted and I bribed him with chocolate, white chocolate is his favourite, and I went to his house. I presented the cookies first thing. They say the way to a mans heart is through his stomach. Perhaps this would work? And we talked and did the usual, I suppose. But at some point we were both sat on the sofa-bed in his room and we were discussing something. I was mid-way through a sentence when, like the usual cliche, he leaned in and kissed me on the lips. I was surprised to say at the least, as I never thought he would. I think I was too stunned to kiss back at first, but I did. And I came away blushing, and smiling. 

When it was time for me to go, as mum had called me to say that dinner was ready soon, I grabbed my shoes and started to out them on. Ed saw the letter in my bag. 

“What’s this?” He asked. I blushed.

“It’s.Um. Nothing.” I mumbled as I his behind my hair. 

“It’s addressed to me?”

“Um, yes. But…I don’t think I need it anymore.” 

“Well, it’s got my name on it, thus it is mine. I’m opening it.” And I watched as he tore open the envelope and read it. I pretended to be concentrating on my shoelaces as I waited for my heart to explode, either through utter sadness and humiliation, or joy. I was preparing to say that if he said no I didn’t want it to affect out friendship and that I would still like to hang out. But just a minute later when I started to say it he looked up from the paper and said “okay.” I smiled and tried to stop myself from dancing there on the spot. We hugged, and kissed a little, before he took me downstairs to wave me out of the door. When the door was closed I skipped all the way home. 

Two years to this day we have been staying strong. Of course we have been through good times and bad times, but we made it through this far. It’s weird to see how it has been this long as he has been my first boyfriend ever, and first kiss. And it seems like an incredibly short amount of time, yet it seems miraculous. We are young, of course, I am only nineteen years old, but still there’s a part of me that is screaming “more!”. who knows if this will end in happily ever after or not, but we’ll see. For now I’m just celebrating two years.