The Snow Queen
by Jennifer Lorene Ritenour
The girl sat on the curb outside of her home and sent her thoughts to the ravens resting on the telephone wire. The ravens circled above her. One crowed and sat beside the girl. This raven had one foggy blind eye and one of sparkling gold light that he used to peer into the back of the girl’s mind and send her images and words of all the goings-on of the city. He showed her the image of a white spider woman whose legs were like saws. The same white spider who stole her brother when they were babies.
“Why did she do this to us?” the girl asked.
“It’s what evil does,” the raven said. “It’s time to face her.”
The girl walked down to the beach alone and she stumbled over the jagged rocks, cigarette butts, and broken beer bottles.
Inside the cave by the ocean was the spider and she was bigger than the girl had thought and as white as snow. The spider’s frontmost limbs crossed over her belly creating an X.
“You’re afraid,” the spider said. “Good.”
Before the girl could even move, the spider was on her, weaving a web so tightly that all the girl could do was freeze. She lay as still as she could while the spider wrapped her like a baby in a blanket of webbing before carrying her off into a nearby cave.
The girl couldn’t move and felt cold. She longed for the advice of the Raven. One camping lantern on the cave floor by the wall was lit. The spider placed her on the ground, and rubbed her front legs together like two knives.
The girl gazed into the swirling red and black underbelly of the spider. A crowd of open mouthed faces, no one able to hear them scream. Then she saw a face she recognized. A boy with the same freckled nose and gold hair as she. It was her brother.
The spider raised one of her legs, aimed right at the girl’s head, and right before the spider went to stab her, the girl heard a muted yell from her brother to move to the right. The spider stabbed the cave’s dirt floor and her leg was stuck. The spider screeched. The girl dodged another attack. Both of the spider’s front legs got stuck in the dirt. The girl rubbed the threads against one of the spider’s legs and cut herself free.
Her brother’s hand reached out and she grabbed it and pulled. Out he came from the spider; this broke her body in two. The siblings watched the spider wiggle and writhe on its back.
“Who are you?” the spider asked.
“I am love,” the girl said.
The spider melted, turned into smoke, and then disappeared with a hiss.
The cave became full of the people who had escaped the spider’s body. They had also once lived in the girl’s city. The girl pointed towards the exit; a doorway of sunlight.
Born and raised in San Pedro, California, with a four year stay in Vegas, Jennifer Lorene Ritenour’s writing is informed by place. Her style has been described as dirty fabulism. Her work has appeared in the anthology Last Call, Chinaski! published by Lummox Press and twice in the Santa Monica Review. For more information visit: https://linktr.ee/writershearth20