It all starts the night you floss a spider out of your teeth. You’re not sure how it got there. One minute you are flicking white pieces of unidentified food matter from your receding gum line; the next you have flung a small black spider onto the mirror. The spider looks as surprised as you are. You stare at the spider but also at the image of yourself reflected around the spider, so you are staring at yourself staring at the spider, who is staring back at you.
You shut your eyes to quash the headache brewing at your temples, and when you open them, the spider is gone. You can feel it crawling up your right nostril, scurrying up your nasal passages to god knows where. You are very disturbed, very disturbed indeed, until you go into the bedroom and your girlfriend is naked and you forget all about the spider in your brain.
“I thought you’d like it,” she says, showing you her neatly shaved pubic triangle. Your girlfriend has never done anything like this—she lets her underarm hair grow and wears a THIS IS WHAT A FEMINIST LOOKS LIKE T-shirt—but you are not one to complain.
She says, “Fuck me, please.” It strikes you she has never, not once in the six months you’ve been together, asked you to fuck her. She has explicitly asked you not to use the word “fuck” because she prefers the term “make love.” But she isn’t asking you to make love to her now; she’s asking you to fuck her, so you do, you fuck her like a freak show. You even try a position you saw once on YouPorn and it works so well she wakes you up at 3, 4, and 5:45 a.m. begging you to give it to her again. And you do, you give it to her again, which is hot as hell but makes you late for work.
You work as a copyeditor at a ghostwriting firm, where wealthy chumps shell out $25,000 to have someone else write their book. You get paid a pathetic fraction of that amount, and there is no consensus about what to call these 50-page atrocities. Your boss calls them mini books. His executive assistant calls them mini-books. The executive assistant of the executive assistant calls them minibooks. Each day your thumb hovers over the space key while the hyphen key beckons. You are paralyzed by indecision. This upsets you.
You are changing it’s to its for the seventeenth time this morning when you sneeze the spider onto your keyboard. The spider is splayed perfectly over the pound key, so at first you don’t notice. Then you see the pound sign has grown legs.
You start to roll up the Wall Street Journal to bludgeon the spider to death, but he crawls under your thumbnail and disappears. This strikes you as very Matrix, and you do not like Keanu Reeves.
Your boss raps on your cubicle. “Hey there, hey buddy. How’s it hangin’? Good? Good. Listen, I put you in for a raise last week and wanted to let you know: approved, dude! Salary goes up 25 percent next quarter.”
Last week your boss threatened to fire you, so this is surprising news. No one in your firm has ever received a salary boost of 25 percent.
You bumble a thank you and reach for your now-cold coffee. As you choke it down you realize there was a spider in your cup—a second spider—and you just swallowed him whole. You feel him tickling your gullet and imagine him meeting your stomach acid in a grisly end.
You visit your mother after work. She’s been in a nursing home for the past three years. You know you’re supposed to call it an assisted living facility but it smells like nursing home. It’s the same smell you get flossing your teeth sometimes, when the food matter is extra rank: the smell of decay.
Your mother doesn’t remember you; she never does. You sit with her for half an hour and when you can’t take it anymore you go to relieve yourself. The urinal in the nursing home has one of those fly stickers to give you something to aim at, so you’re aiming at it when suddenly you piss out three black spiders. The spiders descend on the fly and eat it, which is pretty weird, considering it’s not a real fly, but then you’re not sure they’re real spiders, either.
And then the spiders crawl into your ears and simmer the fuck down.
When you go out to see your mother, she says, “Hello, darling!” and her eyes are bright and eggshell blue. She recounts in detail the presents you received for every birthday ages two to twelve, and asks about your hippie girlfriend, and apologizes for the time in third grade she spanked you with a spoon.
Things are getting weirder. Your boss keeps promoting you and your girlfriend wants to fuck you every waking second. Your mother gets her driver’s license back, and now she’s constantly dropping in to say hi, usually while your girlfriend is fucking you. You are exhausted. You shit out twenty-five spiders each morning and another twenty-five at night. You never thought you’d say this, but you are tired of the fucking and the money and your mom. You want life to go back to the way it was, before the spiders started laying egg sacs that hatched into everything you ever thought you wanted.
You go to the drugstore to buy an enema. You’ve just chosen one in a nice purple box when your girlfriend comes sauntering down the aisle. You quickly toss the enema in your bag and help her shop for a razor. She wants to fuck you on aisle nine, but you beg her to please just buy the razor so you can both go home.
The security alarm goes off when you try to leave. The guard asks to see your bag and finds the purple box, which you completely forgot about. “Yep!” he shouts to the whole store. “We’ve got an enema!”
You start laughing, then coughing, then suddenly you are vomiting spiders, spiders everywhere. They swarm out on a hot stream of bile and you can feel yourself deflating, no longer infested by desire. The spiders scuttle across the floor, up under your girlfriend’s skirt and into her bellybutton, and her eyes are radiant with yearning. She looks beautiful, so beautiful you move in to kiss her. Because you are everything she ever wanted, are you not?