Hearing Without Listening

"I need to listen well so that I hear what is not said." -Thuli Madonsela

“I need to listen well so that I hear what is not said.”
-Thuli Madonsela

Her captor looked on as Annabel became more and more fatigued from her struggle. He laughed and looked at one of his eight watches.
“I can wait.” He grinned.
Annabel saw her mistake so clearly now. He lured her in by appealing to her desire, milkweed. The promise of revealing a secret location where milkweed grew so huge and lush, it was like a forest. He’d lied.

He’d kept telling her to come closer, he couldn’t hear her. Raised to be polite and agreeable, Annabel found herself impossibly stuck now in his web of lies.
After so much useless struggle, she stopped struggling. “Why didn’t I listen to my gut? I knew it sounded too good to be true. If I ever get out of here, I will teach the flock to trust their intuition. If something doesn’t feel right, that’s enough—don’t hang around to figure out why.”  She was chattering aloud, nervously. He smirked and laughed some more, rubbing several legs together. She looked around at her surroundings and took it all in. So this is where it ends, she thought.

To blame him for her predicament was useless. He was just doing all he knows how to do. He really was quite good at it, she admitted—he told her exactly what she wanted to hear. A small part of her prepared to die.

Movement. Out of the corner of her eye, a huge rat blinked at her.
“I can reach you from here,” he said, very matter-of-fact. “I can detach the tethers that hold you in place and destroy the web, but why should I?”

Annabel was shocked at his bluntness as well as his callous attitude. “Uh, because it would make you feel good to be of service to another living being?” she replied, with a hint of sarcasm. She decided to take the friendly route.

“I’m Annabel. What do you like to be called?”
“Sam. But I have never actually helped anybody. I like to figure out ways that I could, but I don’t,” he said, scratching his belly and leaning on the roof gutter.
Annabel seized the moment. “Oh, you need to carry it a step further! Nothing feels as good as helping someone out of a jam. I would be so grateful—and please, I don’t have much time.”

“Stay out of this, you ugly rodent!” said the spider.
Sam took offense at being called a rodent. “I’m not afraid of you, Sedgwick! Your deceitful conning and pretentious nature are legendary around here!”
The spider watched as Sam took a swoop through three strands of web, partially freeing Annabel.
“Apologize,” demanded Sam, as he poised an arm over more of the web that held the now very excited Annabel. She struggled to free herself as Sedgwick said, “Never apologize. It’s a sign of weakness. How you deal with my insults doesn’t concern me—you’re hypersensitive. I am doing what I do.”

“As am I.” Sam took another swoop through the remaining strands of web that still held Annabel.
Annabel flapped awkwardly as she freed herself. Filled with the joy of freedom once again, she fluttered over to Sam and kissed the top of his head. “Thank you! Bless you, Sam—and may good fortune soon come your way for your random act of kindness!”

He smiled as he watched her flutter away and thought that it did feel good to help someone so beautiful out of a jam. He turned his attention back to Sedgwick. Sitting, all legs crossed, very angry, not as bold, in the center of his partially-destroyed, now empty empire. Gently tugging on a strand of web, Sam slowly reeled in the spider, like a fish on a line.

“She was mine, rodent! You had no business interfering with my affairs. I lured her by offering what I knew she desired—what’s wrong with…” On and on Sedgwick’s tirade went, up until Sam opened his mouth wide and ate him.

Annabel never could have imagined such a wildly orchestrated outcome to her seemingly hopeless predicament. She realized that she not only had to hear her little inner voice, but listen to it as well.

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