It was a perfect Spring day. There was warm sunshine and a breeze ruffled the white linen cloth on the table set up on the lawn in the garden. New flowers danced in the sun and some early butterflies staggered around in the air.
Lunch was over. The adults were sitting around the table having another campari and soda and thinking about another piece of chocolate cake and the children were rolling a ball around on the lawn, except for Canisha and Shanra who were under the table. Why? I don't know, trying to work out which shoes belonged to which guests, I suppose.
Canisha poked her head out. "There's a redback under the table," she announced.
"Oh," I said. "What's it doing under there?"
"Just sitting there in its web," she said, with a slightly sarcastic tone and a shake of her head, as if any adult could seriously be asking such a silly question.
I thought the spider would most likely be another, less venomous, one; but I crawled under the table anyway, excused myself to various legs and feet and had a look for the arachnid. Sure enough, it was a redback (careful!). I fetched a glass jar (an empty mango pickle one) and coaxed the spider into it with the help of the end of a fork - being careful not to harm it (the spider, not the fork) - and placed the lid on the jar.
"There we are!" I said, emerging from under the table. I gave the jar to Canisha and she triumphantly showed the redback spider, safely behind glass, to everyone who cared to look.
Here's the funny thing: during the entire episode, from Canisha's announcement that she had found a redback through my retrieval of it and subsequent display of it to everyone, no-one had moved a muscle. Not out of shock - they just didn't react to the news that one of the world's most venomous spiders was right there under their table. In fact, they barely even moved their legs, except to accommodate me when I climbed under it to get the spider. The conversation just went on as before, uninterrupted, about football or cars or recipes or babies or the weather or scandal or whatever it is that people chat about when they're at Sunday afternoon garden parties.
Later, I tipped the spider out of the jar over the back fence into the vacant bock behind, where there are plenty of rocks for it to make a new home in. I still can't kill a spider, even a venomous one.