Zoe didn’t always like spiders; in fact, she used to be absolutely terrified of them. But here she is now, with her hand inside the large terrarium in her bedroom, tenderly taking out the most enormous, hairy spider you have ever seen.
Her problem with spiders began when she was four or five years old. She can’t remember exactly when; she’s grown so much since then. She does, however, remember where and how; a moment etched into her memory, one that she will never forget.
It happened on one of those cool autumn mornings, the kind where you can see your breath hang in the air like little clouds; she had been running out in the garden playing dragon attack with her puppy, Spike. Chasing him across the lawn and pretending to breathe fire. They dashed about the garden incredibly fast and were having so much fun. Right up until Zoe followed Spike through a gap in a bush; and face first into a dewy wet spider’s web! Aagh! As she tore at the damp cobweb now clinging to her face she began to feel what she imagined must be the most gigantic spider crawling through her hair! She ran to her mum in a panic, shouting for help. She arrived at her mothers’ feet in a mess of tears and fright. Her mum hastily flicked the spider away with a sort of “urgh” sound and a shiver, and Zoe thought it landed on the ground with an audible thump. “All gone” her mum forced a smile while holding Zoe tightly.
But that was it, from that moment Zoe’s fear of spiders took hold. She wouldn’t go outside if she could see a web close by. It made playing with Spike no fun at all. She made her mum and dad check under the bed at night, and she would spend an age looking all over her room before she dared to close her eyes.
As she got a little older she started to brandish her fear more like a weapon, wielding it with terrific glee at any spider she could find. With the aid of a long stick (usually a very long stick) she would poke the spiders from their webs and then smush them cruelly into the ground.
She would take great delight in teaching her more horrible friends to do the same; she thought creating a world without spiders was a noble pursuit.