The needle pierced the skin and the dark redness of Murella’s blood filled the vial. One was filled, removed and another was placed in position and then another one after that. She unclenched her fist and she wanted to look away but didn’t. All the while the doctor was talking, saying something about her needing to go to a clinic for more ‘routine tests’. He didn’t make much of an effort to reassure her that she had nothing to worry about but she didn’t care for all that talk anyway.
“The 9th alright?”
“You’ll get a letter in the post.”
“Of confirmation, telling you where to go.”
She nods and absent-mindedly rolls down her sleeve. The doctor places each vial in pre-labelled little plastic pockets.
“Right. I’ll send these off. The results will be at the clinic in time for your appointment.”
Results? What did Murella know of results? What did she ever know? All she ever heard was, “we need to monitor you”, “routine tests” or on this occasion, “hmm, a little high.” The rest they mumbled into their collars while they scribbled away in their notes but she had never had to go further afield before.
Unforeseen difficulties during pregnancy and childbirth had left medical professionals with the compulsion to monitor her. Always assured that there was nothing to be concerned about and that keeping an eye on her was merely good practice, a matter of completion, she attended for her quarterly check-ups. Initially she feared that her body might hold several non-distinct areas of dysfunction but as time went by and she remained in relatively good health she attended for her blood tests more out of force of habit than anything else. Now, more than ever though, she was too concerned and pre-occupied with matters outside of herself to wonder what was going on inside her body. She was too busy wondering if she’d get home in time to fix tea and worrying about if she’d remembered to close the freezer door, shut off the running tap or turn off the oven. Most of all she wondered about whether or not she had locked the front door properly.
Returning home, these thoughts were still terrorising her. Not having seen the cobweb on the first floor landing she walked straight into it, then fought furiously all the way up the next flight of stairs to free herself from it. She swept her hand back and forth across her face with a slight hint of rising panic within her belly. Each sweep of the hand seemed to draw the web closer and heighten the claustrophobia.
Meanwhile, a wasp was still caught in the web outside the window of the top floor landing. Tethered by some part of its body, it was blowing in the wind. She wondered why the spider had left it there, why it hadn’t come back to claim this tasty snack. She wondered whether spiders actually ate wasps anyway. She wasn’t sure but only knew that it was somehow fascinating to each day watch the movement of this long dead creature as the wind played with its lifeless body; fascinating but at the same time very disturbing. The web seemed also to be deteriorating. The spider had abandoned it. When the next day in the newspapers she saw a photograph of a gigantic Australian spider attempting to gorge itself on a bird she knew that arachnids could do whatever the hell they liked. To construct a death trap and leave a wasp to the elements was but the smallest of adventures.
Among other things, nature was there for her to see; a wet leaf a used condom, split, a banana skin a busted bus shelter a broken beer bottle a woman’s left shoe, size 6, lying by the roadside, a smashed window pane a dirty great big hole men at work men at work men at work a stocking foot muddy icy puddles of ice ice icy ice with a beautiful large fallen leaf encrusted into it a lone glove shit shit shit vomit spilt food a corner of a table table corners table corners table corners…
“Remember Space Raiders?”
“There was a box of Space Raider crisps sat outside the front gates of the school this morning.”
“What a waste.”
“I used to love those. I could eat six packets at a time.”
“They were lovely, and cheap too.”
“We used to get them on the way back from school sometimes, you remember…”
“There was a rat in it.”
“What you mean a rat?”
“There was a rat in it. There was a rat in the box. A huge rat. It pretty much filled the entire space in the box.”
“What was it doing in there?”
“I don’t know, looking for food I suppose.”
“Space Raiders, anything, they eat anything, don’t they.”
“It was eating the Space Raiders?”
“It was dead Cas.”
“How do you know it was dead?”
“‘cause it wasn’t movin’ was it? It was lying on its back with its legs stuck in the air and its nasty tail hung out the box.”
“Do you think it’s the crisps that done it?”
“I don’t know. Do I look like Quincy to you? I didn’t do a bloody post mortem did I? I just know a dead rat when I see one.”
“Ooh nasty. Death by Space Raiders,…that’s well cold man.”
Murella lingered for a moment on the thought of the alien faces staring back at her from the crisp packets. Two or three packs lay strewn across the grass having spilled from the box, as if the rat had thrashed around a bit, scattering packs over the edge of the box, before actually drowning in the massive sea of alien heads. She concluded that it was a cruel cruel world but that perhaps wasps and rats deserved less sympathy than most.