“I don’t believe spiders really do catch flies,” Mrs. Grand said with a grimace.
“Why do you say that, my dear?” Mr. Grand said, guardedly. Mrs. Grand’s explanations were, on occasion, something to be feared, and always, arrived at and pronounced without the least regard for anything that could be called logic or scientific analysis (and yet, Mr. Grand mused, he often found himself convinced, nevertheless).
“I believe it is a myth,” she said, cautiously approaching the subject of their conversation with a tissue. “The little things are so creepy, so hairy, so—so hideous. We tell ourselves they rid the world of insects because we want to imagine they have some purpose, some karmic role in the universe. Nothing can be altogether ugly and useless, after all.”
“It can’t?” Mr. Grand said.
“Yes it can,” Amanda said, peering around the corner from the kitchen where she was making her first-ever school lunch (you’re certainly old enough to make your own lunch, Mrs. Grand had said, and you always complain about the lunches I make, to which Amanda had muttered something about liverwurst and then beat a hasty retreat to avoid a lecture). “I can think of something both utterly ugly and utterly useless.”
“And that would be?” asked Mr. Grand, again fearing the answer yet drawn to the conversation as a moth flutters to the deadly flames.
“Clarence,” Amanda said, licking a glob of marshmallow fluff from her index finger. “Clarence the bug-eyed creep.”
“Nonsense,” said her mother. “You will find, as you mature”—Amanda scowled—“that Clarence has the potential,” she emphasized the word with care as she dispatched the offending arachnid to the next world, “for a beautiful and communicative soul. There, I’ve probably destroyed my karma for the next few lifetimes, but the rule is as clear as it is simple: No Spiders In The House.”
“Well, I guess we’ll never know,” Amanda said, “because Audrey told me yesterday that she overheard Marty say his uncle who works with Clarence’s dad told him Clarence is going to Silverton this year because his parents bought a new house in the Silverton neighborhood.”
“Well, that settles it, then,” Mr. Grand said. “With such an authoritative source, who could doubt the news?”
Amanda ignored the sarcasm.
“By the way,” her father said, “what is that you’re making for lunch?”
“Peanut butter and marshmallow sandwich,” Amanda said.
“Ye gods,” Mr. Grand said. “Margery, are we going to allow this?”
“Peanut butter and marshmallow are good for the psyche,” Mrs. Grand replied, unperturbed.
“It’s the body I was concerned about,” he muttered, but subsided lest the inimitable Mrs. Grand suggest he make the childrens’ school lunches if he was concerned about their contents.
[This section withheld – you’ll just have to read it when the book comes out!]
“I still wish the girl on the cover looked like me,” Amanda said.
“Oh but she’s blonde, and you,” Mrs. Grand said, kissing the forehead of the pouting face, “are a ravishing auburn beauty.”
“Am not,” Amanda said. “My nose is too flat on the end and my legs are too skinny and my hair always looks as though I just finished playing with an electrical socket.”
Mr. Grand tried to catch Mrs. Grand’s eye, as this was the first time he’d heard such self-deprecation from his previously carefree child, but Mrs. Grand had her back turned.
“Beautiful you are and beautiful you will always be,” Mrs. Grand said.
“You just say that because you’re my mother,” Amanda said.
“Would you rather she insulted you?” Mr. Grand said, perplexed. Mrs. Grand shot him “the look,” and he withdrew, realizing feminine self-image and pre-adolescent angst were probably best left to the other female in the room.

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Categories: The Unfairy Tale

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