He’s sitting next to me, cross-legged, so I scoop some dirt in my fingers and make a small pile on his knee. We’ve been silent for nearly five minutes – I counted – when he abruptly breaks it by not answering a question I hadn’t asked.
“I dunno” he shrugs. “It’s the weird shit I miss.”
“No” he blushes, although I’ve probably stumbled on a kernel of truth. “No. It’s like… y’know my house is always creaking? Every night I hear the boards snapping and grinding. It wakes me and I think it’s her. She’s going for a piss at two in the morning. But she knew where the light switches were. And when it stays dark I realise it isn’t her again. And then I dream about the spiders.”
He’d told me about this recurring dream; where his ex is sitting on a tall bookcase in lingerie with her legs dangling, so he climbs up but she’s gone and he’s face to face with an enormous spider, covered in human skin like a pair of bony hands pressed together. He screams, he falls, he wakes up. Sometimes I wake up in the night as well. I live half an hour away.
“I miss the smell of her hair” he chuckles, ruefully. I remember seeing a bottle of her shampoo in his bathroom once, the same brand I use. I remove the tie from my bun and it falls down over his shoulder.
‘Go on, have a sniff’ I smile.