You are bloated up like a balloon for months, carrying them around unformed on your abdomen, but eventually the time comes and you knit a giant egg sac and in they go. You push and push against your epigynum and it is like a trickle at first, going ploop ploop ploop but then a landslide is coming out of your oviducts, a wet avalanche that settles into a gelatinous pile.

You are smaller now, but you swell with pride. Your offspring.

Then there is the stockpiling of food, and the waiting. The long interminable waiting.

One day as if by magic they are out all at once, microscopic black specks crawling around every which way, discovering your world. Every year you try to get to know them all, to instill a sense of place and self, a moral compass, a respect for others. But there is barely time to name them, they are so numerous. It is hard to tell exactly how many, with the compound eye.

They begin to ask questions:

What is beyond the nest?

How come so many legs?

Do you eat the wings?

Why do we have to rebuild it every night?

You feed them. You try to keep them safe. You tell them stories about the world, its pleasures and dangers, but there's only so much you can prepare them for. They will be relying on instinct for most of it.

Finally the day comes: it is sunny with wisps of clouds, the wind is blowing gently out of the East. They have arranged themselves around the web, so many of them, and as you look at them all assembled for the last time there's an exquisite stillness, a kind of excitement mixed with melancholy, and they sense it. It is a Moment, it is the prison yard scene in The Shawshank Redemption, a Mozart aria floating above you, the camera panning back and up and out over the entire scene, everyone looking heavenward with an air of anticipation.

Slowly you raise your abdomen, pointing it into the wind, and prepare your back legs. The others all follow your lead, recognizing the posture from repeated lessons. The precocious ones see it coming and have the idea almost immediately, instinct directing their actions now, spinnerets ballooning silky gray filaments out into the wind until they feel the tug against their bodies, but they hold on. Others catch on more slowly, tangling up with their neighbors, having to detach a few attempts and try again.

There is a surge in the breeze, and your sense of sadness at parting turns into maternal pride as you give them the nod. Goodbye, my darlings, you think, and one by one they close their eyes and let go, and are carried slowly away like a million bits of dandelion in the morning sunshine.

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