Harold Snow wiped his hands down his apron and admired his handiwork. Twelve perfectly sculpted gingerbread women smiled up at him, their sweet scent wrapping like a blanket around him.
‘Grandpa, Grandpa, are they done, are they done?’ cried Izzy. She ran to fetch her step, dragging it screeching across the floor, before climbing up beside him.
‘Wow’ she said, stretching the word out as she gazed at the biscuits. ‘They’re just like Mummy’s. You did it!’ She stroked at his forehead with clumsy affection before adding, ‘Right let’s eat them.’
‘Hold your horses little Miss Fox. Firstly, they’re still hot and secondly, they’re for your Mummy, remember?’
They wrapped up warm beneath layers of wool and walked hand in hand to the bus stop, Izzy clutching the gingerbread under her free arm.
It was a short bus ride, through slush filled streets, and a long ride in the lift, up to the highest floor. Izzy tore into the room leaping onto the bed.
‘Look Mummy, Look! Look what Grandpa made!’ She pulled open the box with an exaggerated sniff. ‘Grandpa says you’ll be able to smell them. Can you? Can you smell them? Don’t they smell ‘licious?’
Izzy turned to Harold ‘I think she likes them Grandpa, I saw her eyes flicker.’ She leaned over to stroke her mum’s cheek. ‘Yes she does … she does. She’s just not hungry Grandpa’
‘No’ said Harold ‘Perhaps not’
The spider watched from its vantage point, high in a corner of the ceiling, its eight eyes regarding the scene below. The room held a solitary bed with a woman laid neatly, arms resting atop crisp, white bed sheets, her eyes closed. The little girl bounced and chatted regardless, while the old man watched. Sometimes he stood by the window, the cool winter light illuminating each weathered line in his face. His eyes cast down and he rubbed at his forehead often.
Biscuit crumbs were soon scattered across the smooth sheets and the little girl grew restless. They prepared to leave, each planting a kiss on the woman’s cheek, the little girl hovering a little longer to whisper in her ear. As they stopped at the door to take a last look into the room, the little girl cried out, ‘Look Grandpa! A spider!’ The old man smiled.
‘Ah, now Izzy,’ he replied, ‘That’s not just any spider. That is a Giant Orb Weaver.’ The girl’s eyes were wide as the man continued. ‘This spider is special Izzy, it spins webs of magical golden thread and it offers protection to all who need it. It must be here to look after your Mummy.’
‘Wow’ the little girl whispered. ‘Thank you Mr Spider’
Then they were gone.
Maria was doing her rounds of the ward later that evening. It was a busy shift and she didn’t have time to waste with 16 patients in her care. But as she was leaving the room of Lydia Snow, something caught her eye. She looked back towards the bed more carefully, to see that the light shining in from the corridor was somehow making it look like Lydia was wrapped in a blanket of gold. She shook her head and smiled as she closed the door behind her. She needed a break, it wasn’t the first time exhaustion had made her see strange things.
Later still, as silence descended, Death crept low as a whisper along the dimly lit corridors, taking with it those too weak to see out the night. It lingered at one door, sensing the vulnerability it craved, but failed to extract a prize. Death moved on and as a new day dawned, Lydia Snow glistened in the morning sun.
This is one I found tucked away on the Macbook. It was first written in response to a Friday Fictioneers prompt – an image of snow – and then extended for my writing group (prompt Spider).