Kris Faatz


When you and I meet at the coffee shop, your smile spread thin to hide your first-date nerves, I’ll tell you how I used to share my bed with a spider. If you imagine a fingernail-sized gnat-catcher and ask why I didn’t squash it, I’ll get up and leave you alone in the clatter and hiss and the clouds of espresso steam. If you picture a gleaming black widow and mention the dark thrill of sleeping so close to death: then I’ll sip my latte to the last trace of foam, but when you suggest dinner, I’ll smile and say rain check.

But if you ask me how it was, I’ll tell the truth. Especially if your smile slides away so I can watch my words land in your mind.

I’ll tell you how, every night, I went to bed in an empty room. My captor took on its life in silence, spinning the shadows into a low-slung body and angular legs. I never saw so much as a glittering eye. Every morning, I woke pinned under ropes of gray glass as wide around as my wrist. 

I’ll tell you how I pummeled those ropes until they shattered. How, squirming free, I sliced my skin on broken edges. (I could push up my blouse’s sleeves and show you the marks, but we’ve only just met.) I’ll tell you how I stumbled out into daylight, how I dragged through the hours until I could fall into bed again.

If you hear this and say oh, depression, I know how that is—then, again, you’ll be alone at this table. But if your eyes ask for more, I’ll tell you about the night when I clenched my fists and fought off sleep. 

The spider’s pincers were as long as my forearm. The mattress sank under its weight. As it started to spin, I pretended to doze, until a strand of glass draped across my chest.

I’ll tell you how I wrenched at that strand, how it snapped free and its jagged end dug into my palm. Blood slicked the glass, but I wrapped my fingers around it. The spider swung toward me, black-rhinestone eyes and open maw, and I drove the shaft as hard as I could into that darkness.

No sound. No shriek or gush or even puff of mist. The spider’s body dissolved into the air. My blood flecked the web and sheets before the web, too, vanished. I’ll tell you how, the next morning, I woke up free.

Then I will hold out my hand, palm up, to show you the scar. If you touch the white seam, and your eyes find mine, and you take my hand in yours: then I’ll hold on, and not let go.

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Kris Faatz (rhymes with skates) is a Baltimore-area writer and musician. Her short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Atticus Review, Santa Barbara Literary Journal, and Typehouse, and most recently won Black Fox Magazine’s July 2023 competition. Her second novel, Fourteen Stones, was released in 2022 by The Patchwork Raven, with an American edition forthcoming in 2024 from Highlander Press. Her current novel-in-progress, Line Magic, was longlisted for the Santa Fe Writers Project’s 2023 Literary Awards. Kris teaches creative writing and is a performing pianist. Visit her online at