There’s a spider crawling slowly across the ceiling.
I am lying in bed watching it make steady progress all over the room. You always hated spiders.
It was my job, then, to vacuum them, or stalk them with the flyswatter, or grab them up in a paper towel and flush them away as you stood, terrified, in a corner. I was never scared of them – they’re just bugs, I always said.
But things that scare you aren’t universal, I guess.
As its tiny, lightweight legs dance above me, I think of how I laid in that bed made for three and listened to you, and how I heard your whole betrayal unfold through a one-sided phone conversation, and how I wished so hard in that moment that a whole big nest of spiders would crash through our ceiling onto your bed. I hated you so much in that moment that I wished for a billion spiders to cover your whole body with their creepy-crawly bodies.
I heard the two of you talking – you and my ex-boyfriend, creating a life together that you somehow thought I’d be fine with – and I know that I turned white as milk, tossing dishes in the sink to make noise so you’d realize I was standing right there and heard it all. You didn’t, or you didn’t care.
Spiders will always remind me of you. I don’t have them in my new apartment, and I wouldn’t care if I did. They don’t scare me. I’m sure he kills the spiders for you now, or you tangle them up in the bristles of a broom. I’m not there to do it, but you don’t have to face your fears alone.
In my hometown, an entire row of houses near the river was bulldozed. They offered their owners the price of the houses and the land to move away, because every year the river rises so high as the snow melts that it floods. The bike trail we explored as children was swept away long ago, and they feared that these houses, atop a small hill, would be too.
I always assumed some wouldn’t take the offer, because your house is so much more than just a place you stay. It’s where your life happens. But they all did, and now those houses are gone. There’s no trace of them at all, no bones of basements or anything. I came back to town one day and they were totally gone, just as if they’d never been there in the first place. I don’t know where those people went, if they stayed in town or moved elsewhere. They bought new houses where there was no threat of flooding, and they left no trace of their lives on the ground when they left.
When I moved out, I made sure to take everything so I’d never have to come back, never have to face you again. I wiped that house clean of my entire being, but I know that like a spider I creep into your thoughts sometimes, just as you creep into mine.