The living room was empty, unusual for that early hour, but mom was checking her email in the other room and dad was down near the barn getting ready to go to a job site and install some doors. Everyone else was still sleeping. My full coffee cup in hand, I began to step down into the living room when something caught my eye and made me pause, mid-step.
It was a spider on the floor. Now, as a mother of two boys who love animals, a spider of that prodigious size is nearly guaranteed to be a toy, but I couldn't be sure. I bent down to peer at it closely and make sure it was not real before I stepped on it. Imagine, if you will, my alarm when I realized that the thing was most certainly alive. I think I shrieked, but I am certain I did not drop my coffee.
Instead, I called my mom away from her position of safety at the computer to come see this hideous creature. She obeyed with alacrity and immediately swooped down upon it with a jar and a piece of cardstock to capture it. It was then that I knew without doubt that having seven children and staying home to care for them robbed the world of what might have been its most assiduous scientist to date.
I do not consider myself an arachnophobe, certainly not a killer of spiders, but at the sight of that beast, all of the happy bright images I had upon awakening were shattered. Something fearful had crept into the house and it poisoned my morning as it sat, wriggling its long legs at me from its jar on the counter top. Even when I removed myself to the other end of the house to sit and type, I could feel all of its beady eyes trained on me, haunting me.
The spider I saw was NOT this spider. She is lovely, even though she does look rather large.
That evil start to the morning, though, was only the precursor of the horror to come. The spider shocked me, but what I heard about later appalled me.
Jared finally awoke and came downstairs. He must have stopped first to look out at the kittens as they played on the deck. One of them will be his as soon as it's old enough to leave his mother, and he has already developed the pride and love of a pet owner. As he came skipping into the back room to see me and get his morning hug, I told him about the spider in the jar. Unfazed, he replied that he had already seen it and then he insisted I follow him back to the deck to see the kittens and their prize.
He was rather close-mouthed about what that prize was, but he did not seem alarmed at all--excited with a twinge of glee would be an accurate way to describe his demeanor at the time. What I found on the deck near where the kittens usually gambol in their innocent kitten-ish glee was the second (and--I hope--last) disturbing image of the day. There was a very small pile of innards glistening in the murky daylight, and this pile seemed to writhe a bit, but this was merely because of the long line of ants busily working away at it.
Nearby, and indeed I almost missed it until Jared pointed out, was the body that had until just lately enclosed those innards. Well, if I am being precise, I should say part of the body. What I saw was the head and shovel-like front paws of a mole and most of its torso, ending in a gnawed stump. Jared informed me that the mother cat had been teaching her babies how to eat meat. He squatted near me to look more closely and I stumbled away from the sight, now forced to contend with two horrific images seared indelibly on my brain.
I thought about posting pictures of these images for you, but then I realized that such an action would be too hideous, too evil to contemplate. So, whilst my words may offend you, I pray that the only lingering images in your mind are the two pictures I have shared. If it is only my brain that is damaged today, I can perhaps rest tonight in peace and hope that tomorrow morning's promise of joy bears a more palatable fruit.