Lumps

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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.”

‘Freaky sex?’

“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.

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