Mi Flies Es Su Flies

A single strand, a spider’s web runs from a coarse brick down to Juliet’s railing and it wobbles in the wind. Still, on the railing is a thin sheet of dust from the Sahara that spring’s rain cannot shift. One’s thumb may be pressed into it, to judge its stubbornness, to try and push it along into tiny mounds. The single strand of the spider’s web has remained for days, possibly weeks – if it is indeed the same one I have noticed before – and surely serves as a path but not a trap to the tiny beast. And it is a beast! One cannot see it, for it lies in wait, camouflaged, invisible. It plots, certainly. It dreams of devouring flies. The flies are attracted by the open window, for they are as curious as the spider is patient. Spiders are welcome here. I would invite it inside, extend my hand cordially, but the spider knows not what ‘cordially’ means, and, if it did, would regard my invitation with suspicion. Its eight eyes would look at me from the side. I would place him by the tomatoes, by the onions and garlic; insist that he have his fill on my fruit flies. There is no contempt for spiders here. One lives behind the books in my hallway. I have seen it many times: large, literary, got a penchant for Turgenev, loathes Eggers. Never will I raise my swatter to it. Mi books es su books.

The single strand of the spider’s web stretches and blows over the view from my window, fluctuating its sever across the landscape. It is only faint as a rule in a notebook. One could write a sentence upon the length. Will it break? I watch carefully.
On my phone I am caught in the middle of an administrative procedure. My council tax is enough to choke a donkey, and, financially pressured, I am seeking the single person’s discount. It is an admission of sorts that I should be single after all this time. ‘Have you not found someone?’ This is my coin into the fountain of local government, but it causes me to groan upon the opening of an envelope. It is improper that I have lived here five-and-a-half months, having paid the fee of a live-in partner, when there is none besides the silent presence of spiders – and they, of course, are unable to contribute financially. The lady at the end of the line has introduced herself to me as Vicky; our exchange of names bestowing a glimmer of trust. She is pleasantly friendly and I picture her straight black hair separating about the centre of her forehead and constantly being fidgeted with as one so enjoys the textures of their own body during moments of absentmindedness. She asks me for my council reference number. It is scrawled on a piece of paper before me. Very quickly I scan it for a discernible pattern; there is none. In groups of more than five numbers, I must look for a discernible pattern; the apparent familiarity sought and grasped in a string of random integers. If there is no pattern then I practice it with my tongue, decide if it rolls, if it at least reacts well with the restriction and flow of one’s mouth muscles. It does not, and there is an X at the end, disrupting everything.

And then, would you believe it, she asks—

‘Can you confirm your address, please?’
And I think. I think. There is a pause. She can hear me pausing, as telephone static is no silence at all. It is uncomfortable. Why cannot I remember my own address, the address I first owned? Why do I move my lips to recall what I have signed, what I have read, what I have entered on forms and said aloud a dozen times each? All the numbers of my past return: thirty-seven, two, fifteen, one-hundred-and-twenty-five, nine, fifty-nine, one-fifty-two. None of those are correct, but within them is a pattern, a bouncing rhythm of repeated figures. There is only a blank. I panic and as I panic my address becomes more elusive. It is on the end of my flat tongue, still I cannot summon the force to push it out.

Finally, it passes out, and as soon as the first number comes, the rest follow like dominoes.

‘Don’t remember your own address?’

‘Yeah, I dunno what’s going on there.’ A thin veil of perspiration has accumulated on my face as I terror at not being able to remember my own address.

‘Hah, heavy night?’

Seizing, because it seems as good an excuse as any—‘Yeah.’

I am short of breath because I cannot remember my own address. What if I were so drunk that some charitable cabbie might lean over my supine body, offer to take me home and I would have nothing for him? What if I should just rot on the roads of this town, unable to fumble three numbers out my pockets sufficient enough to get home? It was just a blip, I reasoned, a momentary lapse in memory. Do not worry, do not ring the bell.

Then is a fine word. There is relief and forgiveness when I type the word Then.

It is a morning in spring. I seek the present. A morning in spring when the sun rises quickly and I am already risen in bed and the steam from my shower gets pulled through a metal disc and the last bleats of a hot radiator course up through my bum when I lean on it for warmth in a bath towel. Over the station offices, the peeling wood, single panes, the weather juggling seagulls, it is brisk in April. Because I slept poorly, I lean into it on the train to work; sleep escapes me. We all cosy here. The sun comes through there. The trot along London Wall is enriching as I gape at the buildings that gobble me. The rushes of perfume as men and women hurry by!  That is not fallen blossom on the pavement, it is birdshit; it is spring and they return to where they were born.

A coffee from Pretthat she gives me for free. There are splashes on my route from overhead baskets carrying men cleaning windows, their cords swinging overhead. They clean off the Saharan dust. Saharan dust, Saharan dust, its brown ricochets my recognition, its omnipresence swiped into my way.

The man on reception is there at all hours, his face contorted into a perpetual frown. He hobbles and hunches, he groans at his surroundings. I step into the lift with its metallic quarters and buttons, its mirror and voiceover artist. Tap the fob and take me up. I pause – which floor is my office? There are only eight buttons, and one of them is to enclose this box around me. A frozen hand hovers there, above the circles that might illuminate at the last second. I cannot remember what floor my office is on. I gasp to myself. The doors linger open unfortunately long. Again, I recall my previous offices: three… five… A sigh of relief that it is the fourth floor; between them both; a pattern.