Highway Chapter 2
I’ve never quite noticed just how beautiful a spider web can be. The thin threads sparkle with fine and silky elegance, but are the equivalent of steel. How can something be so tough, yet be so beautiful? The spider takes hours weaving it, so delicate and precise as if it is the only task in the world. But why? Why does it spend so much time on this task? But because it is so small, the web is weak and vulnerable, easily torn down. If it is not first destroyed by some gust of wind, some raindrop gone awry, or perhaps some animal running by, it is ruined by a human being. A careless swat, a twirl of a broom, and the brilliance is gone. So why does the spider continue doing it? It should know it will be destroyed. Why not make a more practical web to catch bugs, not one made with immeasurable effort? Maybe it is too much to expect reason from a spider. It does not know any better. It cannot know that everything will be in ruin because of a human being.
Because after all, isn’t that what we do? We consume everything in our path like a black hole, sucking in all life before us in an attempt to forge a path ahead. Humans defy the laws of nature. They cheat death, create weapons unlike any in the wild, and think themselves ultimate in every way. Other life forms just don’t have a chance. This race, once on level with others, has become poisoned and corrupt and they will not stop until they have obliterated all that is in their path, and the world eats itself from the inside. It sickens me. But still, I am one of these humans. I am part of a world I can’t escape from, no matter how much I long to. Despite this, I will never give into the society standard. I refuse to be the standard.
I live in this retched town, populated with the most delusional people on the planet. Everything here is pleasant. The sun, the sky, the plants. All of the children get along. They pretend that everything in life is perfect, and that they have every reason to be content. They don’t ever question life. Unless they come in contact with me.
Being left all by myself at a very young age, I have always been different. With no parents or siblings to speak of, I had become that child. At first, they tried to act like I was normal. But I knew that deep down, they found me to be an anomaly. Something that was not pleasant and perfect. A smudge, a mark, and imperfection in their polished and immaculate world. I didn’t feel as if I had anything in common with these kids, and so naturally I was withdrawn. But you can bet I tried my hardest to be like them.
As we got older however, I started to become less and less like them, and when their parents told them they shouldn’t play with me anymore, I wasn’t surprised. Tommy didn’t want to play soccer, Janie couldn’t sleep over because she was helping her mom, and Jacob was doing homework and couldn’t go to the park. I knew it was all a lie. The excuses starting to become more forced, until I stopped calling. This was when I truly became alone.
I would wander the streets, dejected and stooped, and hoped that nobody would notice me. Nobody talked to me directly unless absolutely necessary. But I knew that despite my attempts to be invisible, I was like a neon banner. Rumors and murmurs followed me everywhere I went, so palpable I could feel them forming like a trail. Under my feet, in front of me, looming onwards. I would get the looks of pity, their faces twisted in an expression of mock concern. I hated those looks more than anything in the world.
They disgusted me. I didn’t need their pity. I wasn’t some poor sap who had an incident and now I was a tragic example to the world. People would stray away from their work to whisper conspiratorially to one another. “I heard she eats garbage because she can’t afford food.” Another. “Poor girl, I can’t believe she lives alone.” And yet another. “She’s like an animal.” The voices filled my head until I could bear them no more. The time it took me to race back to my little sanctuary carried on how many voices I heard. I used to go home and cry about it. My cries filled the air with despair and pain, my young soul being ripped apart. It happened every day I left the house.
One day, when I was laying there, something changed. It had suddenly come to me that nobody could hear me cry, and nobody could feel my pain. I was essentially wasting my life on these people. These people who had tormented me my whole life. I knew that if I continued to be this way, I would end up killing myself. And that’s when I began to change. I refused to be their “tragic” tale. That girl, did you hear? She killed herself. How awful. I guess she just couldn’t take it. No. I would not let them win this game. The black hole wasn’t going to consume me. For I was human too, and I held the same power of destruction.
So I made their lives as difficult as possible. I cut off my braids, dusted off my knees, and dried my eyes. If they wanted me to be different, I would. I transformed into who I am today. Like a butterfly, I emerged from my cocoon of silence and pain, and showed the world just how colorful I was. I took up cursing, and used my vocabulary as often as I could. I beat up any kid who insulted me, spoke back to any adults that had conversation with me, and walked around the streets at night.
It was hard at first, to keep that up in all the situations, especially as the rumors got worse. Some said I had killed my parents, that I was dangerous. But I adjusted to it, evolved into a tougher species. My skin got thicker, and I began to just brush off the insults and lies. I had built up a wall between myself and the rest of humanity, and nobody could have taken it down. The looks of pity had turned into fear and worry, and it made me feel better. I was something that was different. I was glad that they always had a constant reminder that I was there, continuing to ruin their perfect lives. I was rebellious in every sense of the word. And that bothered them. They complain, but I haven’t committed any crime or offense, so they cannot have me removed. I wouldn’t let it be that easy.
Although I had gained freedom and satisfaction from my plans, I still felt as if something was missing from my life. I felt as if there was a void in my very soul, and I couldn’t fill it with faces, or voices. I was missing an essential piece of life. They only time I seemed to partially fill that void was when I went for walks around the forests nearby. The woodland animals caused me to have a sense of aching yearning. I longed to be part of this world, instead of a part of mine. But animals are only animals, and I couldn’t imagine such a boring life, foraging and doing the same thing every day. The only thing I didn’t like about the forest was the noise.
So many animals and bugs made noises at the same time, they clashed with each other. The cicadas and crickets were opposites, and together they made sounds that grinded together uncomfortably. I could not see how nature allowed both of these insects to live in the same area. Even so, there was something innately magical about the world outside, and I liked it more than any other place. The feeling of missing something seems to intensify, as if I am close to finding out why it exists. Like a child’s game of hot and cold, it hints at the answer. But I am never able to find it. It is another difficult thing, and I decide to give up on it. Why should I work for something I can’t attain? Whatever I can’t have isn’t worth it anyway.
These nights I just lay on my bed, staring out the window, gazing up at the pale, luminescent moon and all the little stars. They are but specks in the sky. While most nights I go to sleep within a few minutes, there are nights where some force keeps me awake and I think. I think of my life, of the people and the world, and I think of the spider. Is it sad that its web has been broken? I feel as if my soul has become a web. The hole in the middle never goes away, and all of the strings have been broken beyond repair. But each night it tries and tries again with futility. I cannot be woven back together before I am destroyed again. I think of the mornings and the nights where I am brushed away like the web, to emerge and try again with results that don’t differ. As I drift off to the land of dreams and darkness, I think how sad it must be. My life is the melancholy of the spider.