His long legs creep ever so gently along the web as he rhythmically pulls and places his silk into position.
We watch in awe, captivated by a kaleidoscope of colours glistening along his back. Red, blue, yellow, turquoise and orange.
The Mandala Spider is exquisite, rare and unique for two distinguishing things: its web and its venom.
I want the latter.
“He’s never done anything like this before,” my spotter whispers. “I know this little fella, the pattern of colour on their backs is always different and I recognise this one. He likes this spot. Sometimes he criss-crosses, but these circles he’s including here, that’s new. Amazing. Oh well … time’s up buddy, this bloke needs you now.”
My spotter moves slowly towards the spider.
“So, he’s going to die if we do this?”
“Oh, most certainly. His venom is powerful but he’s actually quite fragile. Incredible that something so small has so much power but the stress of me handling him will kill him, for sure. Unfortunately, it’s the only way to get the venom. She must be pretty special, for you to go to such lengths.”
“She is. Looking at her is like looking at this spider, the way he moves, his grace, his creativity. I look at her and I can’t look away.”
“Sounds like love.”
I blush. “For me, yeah. But, she doesn’t know I exist.”
“Look, before we do this … ahh … there’s something you should know. The spider, the venom….”
“It is a beautiful and terrible thing and must be treated with caution.”
“What do you mean? What could be terrible about love?”
“There is nothing terrible about love but when you get love this way, let’s just say … you take a risk. If you give her too little of the venom, it’s likely to wear off and she may lose interest quickly. If you give her too much she’ll overpower you with love, you’ll suffocate and forget who you are. The amount has to be spot on to work, I suppose love is like this spider, rare and unique … delicate.”
The spotter creeps closer to the spider, one hand outstretched, jar open ready to entrap him.
I gasp. The spider’s web has emerged as an intricate, interlaced pattern of circles and lines expanding in precise proportions from its heart in the centre to its outer edges. The web is breathtaking.
I place a hand on the spotters arm. He looks back at me.
“I need a minute … before he has to die.”
“He doesn’t have to, your choice. What does the girl … what does love mean to you?”
I think of her. Of me, crouched in the undergrowth, looking for a love potion to get her to notice me.
“What’s it going to be then, eh?”
The spider doesn’t need any potion, he has all the love he needs inside of him. His own love potion. God, what a fool.
“Leave him be.”