She remembers the first web she spun. It was the pattern of her mothers before her, so old that Arachne herself might have dreamed it at the loom, picking a warp and weft that would make gods jealous. By morning, dew hung heavy from the radials. Through the captive droplets the world seemed engorged with such promise that she ate her failure without lost heart, ready to spin again. Other days would come, bearing better gifts from the sky.
No one seems jealous now.
She waited, as she always had, with her limbs on the signal lines. She was patient and trusting. The Great White Eye saw her faith and brought her flutterings and buzzings, so many that she had grown big and fine on their bounty. Then a different pulse thrummed through the silk of her world. Neither frantic nor frenzied, it plucked daring provocation. Irresistible intrigue lured her from the center den and his gentle weaving lulled her hunger. When it was done, she hardly understood what she'd offered, what he'd taken, or what they'd lost. It was the finest meal she'd ever had.
He was such a tasty thing, precious and dainty, with eyes like gems and a scent like fate.
She grew leaden with season. A new hunger came. With untempered voracity she ate every catchling in the web, regardless of its size or worth. Her mood swung with pendulous uncertainty. Another web sister would pitch her into murderous frenzy, bringing cannibal comfort with confused conclusion. Shadows thrown by the sky hunters sent her scurrying. Her silk lost its taste in proportion to her growing appetite. The more she ate, the more she loathed, the more she needed.
Sometimes she wonders if she spins her own destiny, or if she is merely the instrument of an infinite thread, one that wills her to and fro on nightly errands of its own madness.
Something is inside her. There is a dread certainty of this. Memories of her hatchling days confound her with urgent nostalgia, and she is compelled to recall what she once was even as she plucks the taffeta of what she has always been. From the days of the ur-mother, it has been this way. Why does she feel so wistful? Why was her gem eyed lover, her delicious treat, spared the agony of the waiting, the knowing, the anticipation of inevitability?
Who will remember what she has spun? Who will marvel at the fastidious devotion to the White Eye, the delicacy of her silk, the cunning patterns that had culled so many curious things from the air? Must it all be forgotten like the mothers before her, their eternal patterns and ephemeral lives?
The clutch stirs. She knows what is upon her and makes no struggle. It is the cruel humor of the Moirai that she thinks of all that she is not as she succumbs to what she is. What bothers her most is the question. Were the webs she has spun truly hers, or was their another thread she could have followed? At each turn in the pattern of her thoughts, she finds that she has made another circle. There is an endless logic of radials, labyrinthine and obscure, which she cannot escape. She is bound by which she binds. She is weaver and she is pattern. It fits too nicely.
Without ceremony or fanfare, the first egg hatches. The others follow with the faintest popping, akin to the bursting of so many unrequited fantasies. As the swarm of her issue covers her body, she is ready to receive them, to be released, to have them devour her hopes and fears.