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Four Lilies

A Sick Joke

Fernando Sorrentino
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This morning when the bell rang for recess I stayed in the classroom because I hadn’t finished the assignment.

Beveretti and Campitelli stayed on too, thinking up some mischief as usual. The two of them had four things in common: they were tall, they were blond, their hair was a mess and they were always up to something.

They were playing with something black and messy. It was a big, fat, hairy spider, but not a real one. It was made of rubber like the ones they sell at joke shops.

Smirking, Beveretti and Campitelli put the spider in Miss Monica’s glasses case. Our teacher was a very skinny, angular woman who always looked disgruntled. I felt sorry for her since I’d heard she never married because she looked after her mother who was paralyzed and spent her life in a wheelchair. But who’d want to marry a woman as plain and short sighted as Miss Monica?

Still, I didn’t want to miss seeing her find the phony spider.

Back in the classroom, Miss Monica sat facing her desk and looking at us. She stretched out her left hand automatically, the way she always did, looking for her glasses.

When she felt the spider along with the glasses she had to turn her head to see what the devil it was.

Her expression was one of tremendous surprise:

“Oh,” she said, “a spider. My favorite!”

And without putting her glasses on, she took the spider to her lips and very neatly bit off each leg, one by one, and swallowed them quite hungrily. Then she ate the pedipalps and the chelicerae. Soon, her white teeth moved like a guillotine, with metallic precision, and snapped down on the abdomen and cephalothorax.

With a pleasure that seemed almost sublime, her eyes on the ceiling, Miss Monica chewed and swallowed the indigestible rubber spider. And she seemed to enjoy it so much that neither Beveretti nor Campitelli, nor I, nor anyone else dare tell her that instead of a delicious spider she’d eaten a rubber toy.

Translation: Alita Kelley
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Copyright ©Fernando Sorrentino, 1984
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Date of publicationFebruary 2005
Collection RSSThe Fictile Word
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