I arrive in Africa a week from today. Next weekend I’ll be settling into my new home in Johannesburg.

Three days ago my boyfriend sent me this photo from the house. We have a new roommate.

“She’s a rain spider,” he said matter-of-factly. “Just a bit smaller than my hand.”

A good omen, he says, and good for killing all the huge mosquitoes.

Here’s a close-up:

“Do they bite?” I asked.

I was hoping for a short, two-letter response to this query. Instead I got this:

“Firstly, they are not lethal, or even dangerous. They bite to kill their prey. They also bite to defend themselves if alarmed. So you just musn’t be afraid, or make any sudden movements. Or they WILL bite, and it will hurt. And swell up.”

They’re very gentle, he says, as long as you stay outside their safety perimeter.

Hmm. What if SHE enters MY safety perimeter? When I’m asleep, for example?

To lessen my terror, I’ve decided to give her a name. Millie. It’s the most innocuous name I can come up with and I’m hoping it will help me think of her in a gentle, grandmotherly kind of way.

Yesterday I was informed that Millie has disappeared from her perch in the passageway.

“Where is she now?” I demanded.

Only Millie knows.

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