Text Box: First Quarter 2018 — First Place

Winter Spider


Jude Higgins
























As if things couldn’t get worse, six inches of snow has fallen in the last week. I’m fed up of being out here in the middle of nowhere, cooped up and on my own. Today, the sun is showing its face and outside, my neighbour’s digging out his van.

‘Climate change,’ I say as I walk past and stare at my car, up to its knees in a drift.

'I don’t go along with that sort of talk,' he says. ‘We’ve had hard winters like this since I was a lad.’ I wonder whether to argue, but keep quiet. A union flag’s been flying in his front garden since the election. We nearly came to blows last year after the referendum.

I brush snow from my car windscreen, then notice the frosted spider's web stretching from the wing mirror to the bonnet. Not one strand broken.

'Look at that,' I say, 'Isn't it amazing? ' He stops shovelling and marvels along with me.

'Clever little buggers, aren't they?' he says. Although his face is blotchy and red, he has a nice smile. He looks at the snow heaped around the wheels of my car. 'I'll get that sorted when I've finished mine. It’s too much for a lady on her own to do.'

I had no idea he knew I’d been dumped. But neighbours get the picture soon enough. One car in the drive. Wine bottles out for the recycling with a few vodka ones to add to the mix. I could tell him I'm not that feeble. Nor am I a lady. But I let him dig out the car for me and then I make a slow trip into town to see if my ex is in any of our old haunts. That coffee shop we used to huddle into on wintry days. The Arts Centre that shows our favourite Indie films. There’s no sign of him anywhere, either by himself, or with her.

When I return, my neighbour’s shovelled out my drive and he’s salting it.

‘Sun’s out now,’ he says, ‘but it’s going to freeze again later. We don’t want you slipping over and getting hurt.’ He sounds as if he means it.

‘Thank you, Bill,’ I say. It’s the first time I’ve used his name for months. We used to call him Bill the Bigot, me and my ex. And now I can’t bring myself to say the ex’s name.

Bill smiles in that nice way again.

‘Wonder if that’s the same one.’ He points at the greenhouse in my front garden. A spider is criss-crossing gossamer threads across the broken pane of glass.

‘Like it’s darning,’ I say.

‘Yeah,’ Bill says. ‘My mom used to do that with our socks. Nobody does that now. They just get new. It’s  the  throw-away culture, isn’t it, Rose?’

‘It is,’ I say and we carry on watching  the spider weaving its magic until the sun goes in and Bill says we should call it a day.

Second Place: #MeToo

Third Place: Who Lost Little Bear?