Snakes and Pills

045 - twisted skin

Mary sat at the small farmhouse table. Outside, the rain found its way underneath the gently sweeping porch roof, aided by the wind. Drops of it threatened to trickle within the premises, but for now her household remained dry.

She contemplated. The weather didn't make things easier. It was dark outside. It was only about five in the afternoon, and normally, around this time of year, there would still be a few hours worth of daylight left.

The gray clouds had negated that fact today. It might have been nighttime, for all she knew. There was a clock in the house, it was in the simple family room, though, and Mary didn't have it in her immediate line of sight.

She rubbed her chin, still in thought. There was something she needed to get done today, she knew it. But everything in the world felt like it were conspiring to make her avoid it. There was nothing more that she wanted to do than just curl up in her rocker in the family room with a nice bowl of soup, her knitting needles, and the radio.

There was nothing more that she wanted to avoid than that which she needed to do.

As the rain continued to pelt away on the tin roof, Mary eventually gathered the resolve she needed. She stood up, and with each step the wooden floor creaked under her waifish frame. Walking towards the ragged screen door, she grabbed her umbrella from the little hatrack nearby. She opened the door.

It, too, creaked. A gust of mist and wind met her as she stepped outside. On the outer edge of the porch laid a small, rectangular metallic canister. She moved towards it and picked it up. The metal made a bit of a creaking sound, as well, thanks to its contents sloshing around due to its newfound movement.

The air smelled like rain, and now, gasoline. Mary opened her umbrella and began trudging across the yard. The umbrella wasn't doing much good, as the rain was being blown in every direction by the fierce wind. Her simple blue dress and white apron were quickly being dotted with drops of rain, but at least she wouldn't be soaked.

The barn was not too far away from the house, but the constant rain made the little, worn path extremely muddy and treacherous. Mary took each step deliberately, careful to not lose her grip and go tumbling down. The task was somewhat more difficult due to the fact that she needed to balance the umbrella in one hand and the canister of gas in the other.

Eventually, she reached the big brown door of the barn, and with some effort, she swung it open. Inside, it looked relatively dry, but the smell of wet hay betrayed the fact that water had made its way inside somewhere. Mary decided to act as quickly as she could. She headed over to the corner, and there it was.

Mary thought to say something. Some final comment, some explanation, some goodbye. But she didn't. Her eyes just locked on the silver strands of the large spiderweb that stretched across two walls of the barn.

She couldn't see the spider, but certainly it was there, somewhere. Watching back. Contemplating what this woman with the gasoline intended to do.

With her delicate fingers, Mary carefully undid the cap, and began to slowly cover the spiderweb in gasoline, until it was completely doused. She stood back, refastening the cap. Next, her hands searched the front pocket of her apron, which produced a tiny matchbook.

She dragged the head of the match over the coarse strip on the back, and watched it flare up in her hand. There was no moment of hesitation for Mary. She tossed the match forward, directly onto the gasoline-soaked spiderweb.

Reflections of red flames were all that could be seen in her eyes.


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