I have the strongest urge to tell you there’s a spider on your shoulder even though there isn’t. I wish there were. Then you would look down and scream high-pitched and embarrassingly. Brush it off and give a good, purging shudder. And because I’ve always wanted to rescue someone, I’d pretend to squish it. (But, actually, I’d keep the spider that had touched you). You’d be so uncomfortable you’d look at me like you’d rather be anywhere else. Not wanting to make eye contact, yet feeling you had to restore the balance. I’d stow our spider in a baby food jar with holes poked through the lid and carry it in my purse to give me the courage to charm you. (Even after it was dead.) You’d seek me out to get back what you couldn’t name. Smile at me. Offer me tentative jokes that I’d simply stare at you for, so you’d rub your neck. I’d stare right where the spider had been (and move my gaze ever so slightly as if watching something crawl towards your ear). You’d get all prickly and shiver. Possibly smack at it. And then I’d laugh. Or maybe I’m not that mean and I’d laugh at your jokes instead of at you—but not always. You’re not that funny. You’d try harder and plan what to say to me. I’d give you morsels of approval in the flicker of a nod or smile. Leave you hungrily wondering what each little muscle twinge meant. You’d call this love to justify yourself. At our wedding, you and the groomsmen would pin arachnid boutonnières to your lapels because of the spider that brought us together. (I wouldn’t tell you I’d made yours out of the original, how would that look?) Later, I’d keep it in my jewelry box, except on anniversaries of our first kiss—or a few days before, to make it interesting—when I’d stick it in your pocket for you to find. And if you happened to be unfaithful, I’d find her house and pin that spider to her pillow with its legs all broken in warning. On my way home, I’d buy bananas with gauze spun between the fruit, like recluses do, and I wouldn’t say anything about her to you, I’d just run my teeth over your collarbone and ask you to make me breakfast.
Kathryn McMahon is a queer American writer currently between countries (the U.S. and Vietnam) as she awaits her British spouse visa. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Split Lip, Jellyfish Review, Crack the Spine, Citron Review, Psychopomp, Cheap Pop, decomP, Wyvern Lit, and Necessary Fiction, among others.