Flashback Friday is where I post some writing of my life as a younger me. This is a church activity as I remember it.
It’s Wednesday and I’m going hiking with the youth in my church as an activity. I’m Mormon and we call our youth groups Young Mens and Young Womens. I can’t be much older than 14 years-old.
The hike starts out on this barren hill that switches back and it’s pretty hot with no shade. We’re hiking somewhere in Utah close-by to Kaysville and I think there’s a waterfall at the end of the hike. After the steep, barren hill it’s a nice hike with trees and bushes and sometimes a small cliff on one side that drops off to a stream. The trees occasionally grow low over the trail and we have to duck under them. We never quite make it to the waterfall because it started getting dark fast. I think the leaders seriously underestimated how long it would take to get there. As the sun was going down, the Young Men and Young Women leaders all decided to turn back so we wouldn’t have to hike in the dark.
As it got darker, it got slightly terrifying because there were tree branches you couldn’t see, rocks on the path, and drop-offs at any turn. I like hiking and I’ve done it a lot with my family, but I definitely don’t like hiking in the dark.
Everyone made it back eventually to the parking lot and they served ice cream. I hate ice cream, so I wandered around in the dark parking lot lit only by the headlights of all the vans parked there. When everyone had finished eating, we hopped in the vans to head home.
I’m sitting next to a boy in the van and I try not to let on that I have no idea who he is in the dark. He’s talking to me and I’m doing my best to pretend I’m listening because something else has me occupied. My head tickles and I can’t figure out why. Maybe it’s my hair, but the hairs on the back of my neck are standing up and instinct tells me that it’s not my hair.
“Are you all right?” the boy sitting next to me asks.
“Yeah! Yeah, I’m fine.” But fear grips me again. Why would he ask me if I’m all right?
I feel something again. Like something moved and it’s on my head. I immediately place both hands on top of my head and fully expect some nasty creature to be crawling on me, but I feel nothing there. Adrenaline is pounding through my veins and I try to calm myself down by telling myself that it’s just my imagination and nothing is there. I take a deep breath and by the time the van drops me off at my house, I’m calm.
Hiking in the dark has made my hands grimy and gross, so I say hi to my sister, Kristen, in the living room as I walk past her into the kitchen. As I’m washing my hands, I hear my other sister, Andrea, gasp from behind me on the landing above me on the stairs.
I turn around. “What?” I know I’m pretty dirty, but I can’t be that dirty.
Andrea’s face goes white as she says, “Jessica, there is the biggest… spider…. on your head.”
Pure panic kicks in and the first thing I think to do is scream like a banshee, flip my head down so I’m looking at the floor, and smack my head with my hands while running into the living room. My dad intercepts me and tries to stop what he calls “my fire dance” and try to get the spider out of my hair. I can feel something pulling my hair and I think “Is that the spider?! No, it’s probably my dad’s hand. But, oh my gosh, what if that’s the SPIDER?! It’s pulling my hair! GET IT OFF!!”
I’m in tears now as it finally falls out of my hair and lands on the ground. All I can see is a black, blurry dot scurrying away while my dad finds the nearest thing to smash it with. He says it was so big that it mostly just “popped.”
We all stand in silence for a second (since I’ve stopped screaming) and my sister, Kristen, is the first to talk.
“Do you think it laid eggs in her hair?”
I feel a little sick as I run upstairs and make a mad dash for the shower. I shampoo three times for good measure and it takes me almost an hour to calm down enough to come out.
After I get dressed, my dad gathers us in my room for a little family meeting.
“Now, I’ve seen you girls scream over little tiny spiders in the bathroom,” he says. “But from now on, I don’t want to hear any more screaming about big spiders you want me to kill. Because that… was a big spider.”
Since I didn’t see the spider very well, I asked him how big it was and he said, “Short of a tarantula, it’s the biggest spider I’ve ever seen.” He described it as being hairy and brown and most likely some sort of wolf spider.
The thing that gets me was the mystery of it all. I really did feel something in that van, but how was it not on my head when I felt with my hands? And did it get on my head from hiking under all those low trees in the dark? If so, why did it take me so long to notice? I guess I’ll never know.