To blow my own horn for the upcoming release of my third novel, Driving in Neutral—a love story about claustrophobia—I am running the 75 Days of Phobia series. As former race car drive Olivia says to claustrophobic Maxwell, “Everyone’s afraid of something.” Romance author Elsa Winckler can attest to this.
I can honestly say not many things scare me, but I am petrified of Rain Spiders. Where we live in Betty’s Bay in South Africa, these huge, creepy creatures with eight legs (although I swear the ones I’ve seen have about twelve) seem to appear just before the summer rains. Apparently they are quite harmless – not that I believe that for a minute.
And I think they know when you are scared of them. They never bother any other member of our family but they have somehow fixated on me and of course make an appearance when hubby is not around.
My most harrowing experience happened about a year ago. I was sitting in front of my computer, lost in a particularly steamy love scene when something made me look behind me. And there he sat on the wall, chuckling (I swear I could hear him.)
For a few seconds I was paralysed while my brain cells worked overtime. Hubby was away, I was all alone and if I wanted to get rid of this thing, it was going to be up to me. With three leaps I was out of the room (remember I’m a grandma of three so this was quite something) and stormed to the kitchen. I got hold of the bottle of insecticide (sorry, I know, but this was of one of those extraordinary circumstances) and walked back slowly.
At the door, I sneaked a peak around the corner. Nope, he (behaviour all male) was still sitting on the wall and hadn’t moved a centimetre. I squared my shoulders, took a deep breath, stormed forward and like a ninja, grabbed hold of a piece of paper with my one hand and sprayed the spider with the insecticide in my other hand. It jumped to the floor, I screamed and sprayed some more on the squirming spider until finally, after what felt like an hour, it stopped moving. Shaking, I got it onto the paper and threw it out of the window.
By this time, I was so traumatised, I had to get out of the house. My walking shoes are always on the front porch and still shivering from the aftershock of my killing spree, I limped out to put them on. I walked back to my room to get my sunglasses and felt something in the front of my shoe. Thinking it was probably a small stone, I took off the shoe and put my hand inside to get the stone out – AND ANOTHER SPIDER CRAWLED ON TO MY HAND, OVER MY ARM AND JUMPED TO THE GROUND, disappearing into my cupboard.
I was panic-stricken, emptied the insecticide inside my cupboard while trying to get hubby on the phone. I closed the cupboard door, locked my bedroom door and in between my sobs and hysterics and hubby’s laughter, I eventually managed to tell him what the problem was.
My hero sped home and made the usual hour’s drive in half an hour. Shaking with laughter, he opened the bedroom door and there, in front of the cupboard, on it’s back, in a pathetic heap, lay the creature. Harmless.
So yes, I have a fear of spiders. I’ve confessed, now please, please, leave me alone!
Elsa has been reading love stories for as long as she can remember. She ‘met’ the classic authors like Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, Henry James The Brontë sisters, etc. during her studies and was hooked for life. She married her college boyfriend and soulmate 39 years ago (he still makes her weak in the knees) and has, 3 beautiful children and 3 grandchildren. She lives in the picturesque little seaside village of Betty’s Bay, South Africa. She is the author of Love, in Writing (Escape Publishing) and Touched to the Heart (Escape Publishing), and also publishes in Afrikaans.