Emily Walling


I need to deal with my arachnophobia, and I’ve finally produced a solution. Creating phosphenes will block out the fangs, hair, abdomens. Eyes. The way a spider hunches.

It isn’t just arachnophobia that I want to lock away. It’s all my fears. They make my heartbeat increase unwillingly. I lay a hand on my chest and focus on my breathing. My palm a remedy.

Watch me pump out phosphenes. Color and light my shield.

My plants shrivel from the drought. This has been ongoing for at least three months. Arms aching from pulling out the hose every other day. It’s … irritating. Damn, it’s irritating.

I walk to the back of my house to unravel the hose. A spider weaved its house between one of the bushes and the spigot. It balances on its silky art and turns when I come into view. Which doesn’t take long.

“Get the hell away from me,” the spider hisses. “This is what you get for putting all these objects too close together for me. Your house is now my house.”

I hate these monsters that take over my home. I rub my eyes to create the phosphenes. It lasts for a few seconds. I grab a handful of mulch below my feet and throw it at the spider. Its agility freaks me out. It glides across the web and crawls between the siding. Out of sight.

I quickly turn the nozzle to release the water. Pulling the hose to the front of the house. I need to wash my car. It’s difficult for bugs to camouflage against my white car. Arachnids scatter across my vehicle. Not as large as the one by the spigot, but visible enough.

I pinch my eyes closed, and then blink rapidly. And then rub them to generate phosphenes.

Green and pink splotches adorn my car. I turn on the hose and wash all the particles off.

Worn, I move on to the last chore. I need to trim some bushes. I grab the trimmers and go to the front of the house.

My walk is slow. My instincts anticipate arachnids all over the front of the house. I sigh, not seeing any. I grab the nearest overgrown branch on the river birch, free hand equipped with the clippers. The branches move, leaves rustling. The sound of tiny legs scampering across the greens.

I don’t look up; my eyes look ahead at the neighbor’s house.

“We see you,” the spiders hum harmoniously. “Stay out of our home.”

I wish you would stay out of mine, I think.

“Stay away,” they warn.

I rub my eyes hard, overloading my retinas until all I see are phosphenes. Explosions of color and awkward light.

I cut the branch. I grab the branch next to the one I just cut. My hand reaches out aimlessly, grabbing the first branch it feels.

I continue to pump out the phosphenes, shading my fear until I go blind.


Emily Walling’s visual and written work can be found in Apeiron Review, The Caribbean Writer, The MacGuffin, a nuclear impact poetry anthology from Shabda Press, and forthcoming in Streetlight Magazine and the Erase the Patriarchy anthology from University of Hell Press. She writes about the physical, emotional, and psychological connections people have with the natural world. Emily graduated in August 2019 with a Master of Arts in Rhetoric and Writing from the University of Findlay and serves as the associate prose editor of Slippery Elm Literary Journal.