I Am Arachne
by Adraesteia Wong
“One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”
—Albert Camus, “The Myth of Sisyphus”
I am Arachne. I weave to remember.
Once, long ago, I wove with fingers as quick as the wind itself. I wove tapestries beautiful enough to dazzle any who looked upon them, clothing fine enough to wick away water from the heaviest of storms. I wove sacks. I wove sail cloths. I wove from the plain and utilitarian to the grandiose and resplendent.
In everything, I wove a work of art.
They say I grew arrogant, that I made claims of skill far above my station, but both then and now, they confuse arrogance with certainty. When Athena challenged me to a contest of skill, I defeated her. But she had a point to prove, and I was a mere mortal facing the wrath of the gods.
She made me a spider, and she cursed me so I would never die. For one of those, I am thankful, and for the other I will never forgive her.
Weaving with mandibles is surprisingly similar to weaving with fingers.
In the beginning, everything I did was slow and clumsy. I had to relearn the movements of my body, the subtle interplays between my many new joints and the limbs they connected. But with immortality came time, and with time came permanence. Today, I can weave every bit as skillfully as I could when I was young, and so I do.
The tapestries I wove in my contest against Athena were reminders. The gods were—and still remain—liars, forever twisting the world around them to gain nothing more than the current moment of their wants. The lives of men and women mean nothing to them, and my weavings strove to immortalize that fact. But they immortalized me instead.
And they changed me as they did so.
The first work I wove with my new form was a home. A web, you would now call it, but my initial creation was never meant to catch flies. I wove it while I could still remember my old life—my parents, my brothers and sisters, my friends. I stitched their names into it, silk-white thread on silk-white thread, until I was certain I would never forget them.
Over the years, there have been many things I have wished to remember, and each is now a weaving. I’ve spun my first love into my work, and my second, and every one thereafter. I’ve spun scenes of summer fields, bright and shining for only a moment, but when all else falls away and only the moment is left, why should the brevity be the part of it that matters?
I’ve spun and spun and spun, but I can’t weave faster than the stream of life flows.
I can no longer recall the name of my village, nor the sight of the house we lived in. I awoke one morning with the knowledge gone, replaced by the slow turning of endless millennia. There is only so much space in a mortal mind, and even the gift of immortality can only stretch it so far.
But when I look upon my work, I remember my father, and my mother, and my siblings and my childhood friends. I remember my loves, my triumphs and joys, and those summer fields made of moments in time.
The gods made me a spider, a creature to be crushed underfoot and easily forgotten, but I am Arachne. I weave to remember.
Adraesteia Wong is a student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, studying literature and computer science. She enjoys writing and reading about magic in all its forms.
Image: The animal kingdom, arranged according to its organization
London :G. Henderson,1834. www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/19951