Harry is a spider. Harry lives in my neck. Is Harry expecting?
|I've got a blue spider in my neck. Not on my neck. In my neck. A difference of a single vowel, subtle enough in speech, the reality is not subtle at all. It is a large lump, the size of a egg, below my right ear. I can see it by craning my head around and looking in the bathroom mirror. A dark lump, it was grey but it it is maturing to a fuzzy blue, the same colour as a distant sea. I can feel it, my skin is taut over it and, if I caress it, it vibrates, a buzzing hum bringing memories of lazy summer days in the meadow.
I call it Harry.
When I go out, I wear a scarf, Harry does not like being cold, he thrums a high-pitched complaint and I can feel his legs curl. There are small talons where there should be toes. He digs them into the nerves that reach into my brain and plucks them when he is displeased. I tell people that it is a migraine. I try hard to keep him happy.
I think Harry might be a girl.
When she was just a tiny babe, no bigger than a cherry pip and silently benign, I went to see a doctor. She said it was a cyst and referred me to the hospital to have it removed. The hospital doctor said it was a benign tumour and made an appointment in the oncology department. By this time Harry was the size of a peanut and was learning to sing. When I finally saw the specialist, Harry had swollen and rounded like a fat grape.
Is Harry pregnant?
My next visit to the hospital was supposed to be for an MRI scan but Harry did not want to go. I had to cancel because I had hot skewers going through my eye and flashing lights spun a halo. The pain was excruciating. I could hardly swallow any medication and then I took too much. At least it silenced Harry for a couple of hours.
Harry's back is rippling.
I am going to have to be cunning. I am starving but Harry will not let me eat. Even soup makes me queasy. I have to fool her and get something inside me. All I fancy is flies but there are not many around at this end of the year. I ate two tins of prunes before Harry realised they were not large flies.
Harry's abdomen is swelling and has become purple.
It is raining, the water hitting the pavement so hard that each drop burst into wet crowns. The gutters are swirling debris down the drains, cleaning the roads with a shiny sheen. With a long scarf under my parka, the hood pulled forward and my umbrella waterfalling the worst of the weather, I left the house. There is a safe place under a log in the park.
Harry is throbbing.
'Can you hear me Alice?' It did not sound like Harry, it was too guttural. 'Alice?' I was flat on my back, on a narrow bed that rocked from side to side. There was a mask over my nose. Why was I in a box? 'You're on the way to hospital, we'll be there soon.' Ambulance. The word drifted past my eyes. I did not like it, so I closed them. 'Stay with me, Alice.' The voice was insistent. 'Nearly there.' There was a two-tone siren going. Eee-orrr. Eee-orr. Eee-orr.
Harry was silent.
'This is Alice.' There came a foggy realisation that this was the A&E department. 'Trauma to the right side of her neck, just below the ear. B.p...' I lost the thread as medical data was intoned and I was transferred to a bed. Concernced faces popped in and out of view. Swabs, tweezers, a mask, wires, pipes, flashing lights, bleeping monitors.
Harry hated it.
'Alice?' A bearded face. 'I'm Doctor Patel.' A white-toothed grin. 'I'm going to take you into theatre straight away.' Brown eyes and a dark tan. I had no idea what play we were going to see. A comedy or a musical would be nice. Lights were travelling overhead. I was being wheeled down a corridor.
Harry dug her talons into my brain nerves.
'She's unconscious.' I wanted to deny it but there was a pipe blocking my airway. I could hear multiple bleeps from a monitor. I sensed people all around. A bright light kept my eyes closed. 'Scalpel. Retract as I incise, Polly.' A sharp intake of breath. Silence. A short scream.
Metallic crashes as dishes and instruments clattered to the floor. A thump as something heavy toppled over and the crystalline shattering of glass. A rumbling and a jolt as a weighty thing bashed into my bed. Swearing. In different accents. Heavy footed thumping as if the surgical team were dancing.
'Did we get them all?' A squelching crunch.
'We have now.'
Harry was gone.