I called her Lucy. And then I killed her. It all happened on my first night in the Mongolian countryside. It had been raining all day and it didn’t look like it was going to stop anytime soon. At the beginning of June, I wasn’t prepared for this kind of weather. Sure, I had expected rain and I had packed a rain jacket but I hadn’t expected the freezing cold that crept up the moment the first raindrops started to fall. After dinner, I went to my ger and prepared myself for a night of shivering. Stuffing my silk sleep sheet into a sleeping bag, I then pulled out a second sleeping bag into which I stuffed the first one. I covered those with all the blankets I could find (four in total). As I lay there, still freezing cold and waiting to fall asleep, I felt the need to pee.
It must have been the tea that I had drunk all evening to keep warm. I still couldn’t feel my toes. Rain kept falling on my ger’s roof. With a groan, I peeled myself out of all those sleeping bags and turned on my head light. Tired and cold, I reached for my rain jacket when, in the faint light of my torch, I saw a giant white spider sitting on top of it. Mouth wide open, I stared at the creature when I heard a sound behind me. As I whirled around, I saw that a large, black beetle had dropped from the roof. Was it a conspiracy? Had the insects decided to attack all at once? I wasn’t just shivering from the cold when I turned back to the white spider that had not moved yet. Once, when a huge grasshopper had invaded our bungalow in Cuba, my friend had called it Edgar to ‘make it seem more cute and less disgusting’. I called the spider Lucy. The name made her look even more evil. I would have been fine if Lucy hadn’t been that large. And if I had known if it could kill or hurt me. But looking up dangerous spiders and reptils hadn’t been on my to-do list before I had left home. I prefer to not know, figuring that I will never see those creatures anyway. And I hadn’t – until that night. I thought about catching Lucy and releasing her outside but I didn’t have a container to catch her in and I certainly wasn’t going to touch her. Plus, I had the irrational fear that no matter how far I walked from my ger to release her, she would follow me and bite me. Stupid, I know, but it was dark, I was alone, tired and freezing cold. In the end, I didn’t have a choice but to kill her. It was one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever done. Did I mention how huge she was? Let’s just say I was glad to go out into the rain to clean my jacket afterwards. Not to mention that while I was reassured that Lucy wasn’t going to come and hunt me, I spent half of the night awake, wondering about what her brothers and sisters were doing. The other half of the night, I dreamt of giant spiders that had come to eat me. I’m never going to make fun of anyone who’s scared of spiders again.