|Who's Afraid of Spiders?|
by Margo Wayman
Malik was a very big, gray elephant with ivory tusks about four feet long. They were sharp at the tips. He polished them every morning by rubbing them against big leaves that grew on the nearby trees. Malik was so big that he wasn�t afraid of anything. He wasn�t afraid of the crocodiles, gorillas, ferocious lions, giant anacondas, or striped tigers. He wasn�t afraid of lightning or booming thunder, or of stampedes of gazelle or zebras. He wasn�t afraid of the wind that sometimes blew so hard that the tallest trees blew over. There was only one thing that Malik was afraid of, and that was spiders. He hated spiders, especially the kind that moved really fast or jumped.
When the last drop of rain had fallen, he looked around. What a mess the jungle was. He plodded off through the mud and soon came upon a lion. A boabab tree had blown over and landed on Jabbar, the lion�s tail. The lion lay there, roaring in anger because he couldn�t get his tail out. He looked up at Malik, and pleaded for help. Malik bent over and began to lift the tree up with his long tusks. Just as he got it off the ground, a spider came running out from underneath. Malik dropped the tree and backed up in terror. He let out a loud elephant yell, and at the same time Jabbar let out a loud roar because the tree had landed back on his tail.
Johara the spider stopped and looked at them both. She ran right up to Malik, who began to dance around in the mud so that the spider wouldn�t crawl on him. The lion turned to watch. He began to laugh. What a ridiculous sight it was � a massive elephant dancing around in the mud, wailing, because of a tiny spider, which soon crawled away.
Malik watched it leave, then stopped dancing about and stood still. Jabbar looked up at him for help once more. Malik was hesitant to help now because of the spider. What if there was another one under there? Slowly he moved in closer to the log and carefully put his tusks under it to pry it up. He lifted, and no spiders came crawling out. He lifted a little bit higher; high enough for the lion to pull his tail out, and high enough for about a hundred spiders to come running out from under the tree and onto the mud, right towards Malik�s trunk-like legs. He was so afraid that he tossed the tree way up into the air, stood on his back legs, and let out the loudest screech that any elephant has ever made. When he landed back on all fours, he was so big, and so heavy, that he sent a wave of mud, with the spiders in it, soaring through the air into the river.
Jabbar began to laugh again. The spiders sailed down river on the mud, and poor Malik, not afraid of anything but spiders, threw his head up into the air, turned, and walked back into the jungle, knowing that next time a storm came through, he was going to stay where he was!
� 1998-2000 Arab World Books