“The black widow’s web isn’t artistic or symmetrical; it’s erratic and random in appearance.” Josh moved to the next power-point slide. “She likes to hang from her web in a rather seductive belly-side up position.” The shot of a black widow’s trademark red hourglass marking produced a few snickers.
Josh requested to be the last one to present his science research final and now Megan knew why. She sank further in her seat, thankful for the protection of the darkened room when the next slide came up.
“Male widow spiders are harmless. You can see here, once the female is…umm… finished with the male, she sinks her fangs into him and proceeds to inject him with her poison that turns his insides into liquid, then she sucks him dry. Did you know that her venom is 15% more dangerous than a rattlesnake?”
Megan closed her eyes. The pain in the pit of her stomach began to grow. Her nick-name emerged from the guy’s locker room a few days ago after she dumped Josh just before he pitched his final baseball game at the state playoffs.
“Ten days before graduation, boys, and the Black Widow has struck again,” Austin had announced. “Second place in the state playoff records will forever be a reminder of the infamous Black Widow’s work.”
At the end of his presentation Josh bowed and Austin led the guys in a rowdy standing ovation. Whistles, cheers, and applause, accompanied by an occasional sarcastic, “Ow!” or “Woot-Woot!”
The bell rang. The guys thumped Josh on the back congratulating him and encouraged him to move on.
Megan snuck out the door before the lights came back on. Her gaze remained steady on the cracked tiles of the hallway. She knew there would be no sympathetic faces among her peers.
When she reached her “daddy’s-little-girl” graduation gift in the parking lot she came to an abrupt halt. Painted on the windshield of her little black slug-bug was a red hourglass and on the back window, the signatures of every guy she had dated in high school.
A group of girls passed by and stared in disbelief. Megan could hear them whisper to each other.
“That’s almost cruel. Not quite, but almost.” The mock sympathy ended and the typical mean girl giggles erupted.
The Black Widow hadn’t changed. Three months into college life and some poor guy had become prey, caught in her haphazard web, tangled by her beauty, intelligence, and talent.
After searching the entire university campus, Josh spotted Megan curled up on a couch in the far corner of the library, hidden from the gossip in the dorms. Josh cautiously sat next to her.
Megan’s eyes were glazed over, mesmerized by the November rain-snow mix splatting on the window. She shuddered involuntarily. “Go away.”
“It’s a free country.”
Megan’s fiery-green eyes flashed in anger. She grabbed her things and stood to leave.
“You aren’t your mom.” Josh caught her arm before she could walk away. “You don’t have to continue to leave a trail of broken hearts.”
“Let go of me,” Megan stomped on his toe to make him release his grip.
“Ow!” Josh pulled Megan onto the couch next to him.
“Let me go,” Megan tried to wrestle away from his grip and resorted to biting him.
“Owwww…knock it off, Megan.” The firm tone in his voice caught her off guard. “Let me talk to you,” Josh pleaded.
Megan crossed her arms over her chest and refused to look at him.
“I know your mom has been married three or four times…”
“Six!” Megan spat the number out with all the anger one word could carry.
“Wow. Okay,” Josh fought to regain his thoughts. “I’m well aware that your dad’s presence has only been financial, but Megan, you don’t have to be like your mom…and I’m nothing like your dad.”
Tears changed her eyes an aqua color. She dabbed at the mascara with her sleeve. “You hurt me to the core. Graduation was miserable.”
“Well, so were state playoffs. Touché. I guess we’re even,” Josh scooted closer. “High school is over, Meg. It’s time to grow up. I love you and that’s not going to change. We can choose a path different from our parents. Learn from their mistakes. Find our own path. Why can’t we start over?”
Josh gently turned her face towards him. “But please,” Josh leaned closer, “don’t…” When they were nose-to-nose he whispered, “bite me…Ow! You bit my lip!”
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