Tiny Victories

They always show up at night.
I just got home, I’m tired, I’m ready to sleep. I flip on the lights in my bedroom and something runs away.
It doesn’t matter that it’s so small I can barely see it unless it moves. It doesn’t matter that I am faster, stronger and much, much taller.
When I see it, I shriek like a six-year-old.
Sometimes I find insects I haven’t seen before, more legs than body, scuttling up the bathtub walls. Last night it was a spider—no bigger than a quarter, legs and all.
I spent a few summers counseling at a northern Minnesota nature camp. I taught children to identify plants—which ones you can eat, which ones can kill you. We played capture the flag in the woods, army-crawling under brush and across anthills to reach our goal. We spotted spiders’ webs to the sides of the trails and halted hikes to examine them.
“Look at it,” I told them. “See the beautiful stripes on the spider’s abdomen? See how it responds quickly when we tap the web so gently? No, don’t touch it; we’re trespassing in its environment. Let it alone.”
Well, my home is my environment. I kill all trespassing insects.
In general, I am unpredictable with short-range missiles. I haven’t played basketball since high school. I even struggle at darts.
But in my home, with a shoe aimed at a moving target, I am accurate on the first throw.

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