The woman sat alone
on the park bench in the warm spring afternoon. It was a beautiful day
in New York City’s Central Park, and the air carried the smells of
grass, flowers, and the possibilities of a season still early in its
cycle. The woman was dressed in a light summer dress of greens and
blues, which accented nicely with her bronze skin and jet-black hair.
Her face was the very picture of patience, and her doe brown eyes had
a depth and warmth that instantly caught the attention of many
passers-by. She waited with her hands folded gently and demurely in
her lap, and a small, pleasant smile on her face. Today, however, was
a special day, and the woman did not wish to be noticed, admired, or
adored by the dozens of people enjoying the park’s sylvan
The lone female had
no sooner let this thought cross her mind, and the park’s visitors
began to drift away of their own accord, finding other, more
interesting areas of the park to explore. Not a word was said, not a
glance was exchanged, but it happened just the same. The woman looked
around the beautiful setting of the forest, with its manicured
walkways, bright green trees, and singing birds.
"Artemis would be
proud," she thought to herself.
The woman sat this
way, thinking of nothing and everything, keeping busy and yet doing
nothing, for several hours, and according to her wishes, she sat as if
invisible, with not one person glancing in her direction, or even
acknowledging her presence in any way. Soon the sky began to subtly
darken with the approach of nightfall, and all of the colors of the
park turned dusky and muted, speckled in shadow and the waning light
of the sun. It was then that she felt a slight tickle on her
sandal-covered foot, and knew that her guest had arrived. Turning her
head slowly and without alarm, she glanced down at her shapely foot to
see a large brown spider climbing its way towards her ankle with the
dexterity and deliberate movements that only spiders possess. The
woman knew this particular spider, and knew it well. She could not
honestly say that she knew its species, because this particular
arachnid had no species. It was as unique as the woman herself, and
that trait was only one of many that the woman her eight-legged
A smile that could
best be described as beatific crossed the woman’s face, and it
radiated from her eyes in a warmth that would make children sigh with
delight, and grown men stop in their tracks. The words that flowed
from her lips were spoken in a long-forgotten dialect of Greek that
rolled from her tongue like honey. "Hello, little one. I was expecting
The spider stopped at
the gossamer sound of the woman’s voice, and arched its upper body as
if it was listening intently to her.
The woman continued
to speak quietly, and yet with utter clarity. "I knew that our paths
would cross again, and I have need of your assistance. My wish is that
our differences be set aside, and that we begin our relationship anew.
What say you?"
The spider was frozen
on her foot, and was not moving a single hair on its body, as if it
were seized with uncertainty or doubt, as if spiders were capable of
The woman extended a
hand that was slim and delicate, yet steady and sure. When it reached
the spider, the spider jumped nimbly from the woman’s foot directly
into her hand with amazing alacrity. The woman placed the spider in
the soft, lush grass at her feet, and turned her gaze upward. To the
casual observer, it may have appeared that the woman was saying a
prayer, or perhaps asking forgiveness for something she had done, or
was going to do. Those observers would be more correct then ever they
knew. When the woman turned her gaze back to the spider’s resting
place, a beautiful woman had taken its place. The young woman was
nude, and she was bent over her knees in an almost prayerful kneeling
position. The woman shared many of the same characteristics as the one
seated at the park bench, including her tan skin, raven black hair,
and trim athletic build.
The woman seated at
the park bench spoke again. "Hello, Arachne. You are as beautiful as I
kneeling at her mistress’ feet, afraid to say anything, and still
reeling from her sudden release and transformation. Feelings that she
hadn’t felt in centuries raced across her mind, from the feel of the
grass on her toes, to the play of the wind through her long, dark
The woman spoke
again. "Please address me, Arachne. We must be sure to start off on
better ground than we have in the past." Her voice was kind, but was
slightly more insistent, and the latter prompted the naked young woman
you grace me with your presence, as always." She still had not dared
to raise her eyes to meet Athena’s, and after the millenia spent
as the first spider on earth, she had no desire to invoke her
mistress’ wrath again.
Athena spoke again.
"I have called you at this time, and to this place, for many reasons.
One of those reasons is because after all of this time, after all of
the winters, springs, and passing years and centuries, I feel that you
have learned from your mistakes, and that you are deserving of another
chance at a human life."
motionless, with her forehead brushing the lush green grass of the
park. "Thank you, Mistress."
"The most important reason is that I need your assistance. In this
time, strange and unusual creatures abound, and not all of these
creatures serve the common good and the cause of man. You will be my
champion among the humans, and I will imbue in you the power to
protect those that cannot protect themselves."
Arachne was extremely
confused and flattered by Athena’s words, but knew better than to
question anything she had to say. "Your servant is flattered by your
wisdom and generosity, and I will give everything in order to avoid
Athena smiled down at
the bowed head of her new charge, and was pleased by her willingness
to take on this responsibility. "I must warn you that Zeus will not be
pleased with my actions, because I have taken this course of action
entirely on my own, and without his permission. He will indulge what
he perceives as my folly, but will not allow any inappropriate
behavior or even the slightest reason to revoke my decision."
Athena placed her
hand on Arachne’s head, and Arachne felt a warmth, energy and sense of
purpose that she’d never felt before. It surpassed even the greatest
feelings in her life, when she was sitting at her loom and creating
the beautiful crafts that had landed her in all of this trouble to
From beside the park
bench, Athena withdrew a Macy’s shopping bag, and presented it to
Arachne. Anyone with a true insight into this scene would have been
horrified or incredibly amused at the irony of the situation. Arachne
opened the bag and found a wonderfully colorful costume and a small
mask. She knew now the costume that she would wear into the world to
represent Athena’s cause, and a new hero was born.