Tarantism

Drabble 23 – Tarantism

Tarantism

Spiderwebs are beautiful when they’re not covered in terrible spiders. Spiderweb by Erik Schepers.

It probably comes as no surprise that I’m afraid of spiders. Something like thirty percent of people are, but few of us are able to pinpoint exactly why. Too many eyes, maybe. Too many legs. That skittering thing they do, or the way they run, stop, run, stop, and somehow vanish completely from your sight.

I try not to be afraid of spiders. I like to garden; I should be living in harmony with the creatures that keep more harmful pests out of my backyard. Sometimes I watch a big golden cross spider spin her web in the morning and devour it at night. We have a tenuous sort of friendship–if I know where she is, I don’t feel afraid of her, and if I’m not afraid of her, she’s not in danger.

Still–think too long about them and you’re liable to feel them crawling all over you, eight legs tickling your skin. And it’s funny that we’re all so afraid of them, isn’t it? Like something deep inside is warning us to be frightened of creatures with eight eyes and legs, with quick movements, and with fearsome, man-eating women.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

TARANTISM

(Noun: from the Italian tarantismo, from the name of the seaport Taranto [also origin of tarantula])

A form of hysteric behavior historically characterized by dancing mania, often believed to be caused by a bite from a wolf spider.

The first thing that strikes Hanna is the woman’s dress—black, shiny, swathing her so completely it looks like a second skin. And her smile, with two sharp canines glinting beneath the chandeliers. And her long fingers, graceful and slender, closing over her shoulder with a touch so light it tickles.

“May I have this dance?” she whispers, and Hanna can do nothing but nod, entranced.

Her grip is tight, fingernails digging so hard into her flesh that she wonders if she’ll draw blood. She doesn’t care; she must keep dancing, her feet aching, skin warm, cheeks flushed, mind feverish.

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