For my birthday, I get spider arms. They're expensive, but I'm worth it. You only turn 34 once, and I keep putting off getting the things I want. So I'm able to get an appointment and he tells me, the consultant that is, that he'll be able to graft them on just fine. I ask him if I'm be able to move them all and he says, sure, but he says it with one eyebrow cocked. I don't know what he means by this and I don't ask him. He gets me to take my shirt off and draws all over me with black marker. It feels lovely. I think, if I'm enjoying this this much, how much am I going to enjoy spider arms?
Spider arms? But spiders have legs. True. But I'm having them as arms. They won't be useful for much, to be honest, but once an obsession takes hold, I'm seldom able to let it go. I've bought everything else I've become obsessed with. Most of it sits unused. But this way, with the spider arms, they'll always be used, because they'll always be a part of me. It's the perfect present. I'll finally be unique; I'll finally have bought something that I'll never be able to lose.
So on the day of the surgery, just before they put me under, I'm lying there, looking up at the round bright lights and I'm thinking, this is the last time I'll have to feel my stupid, ordinary body. Here come spider arms. The consultant leans over me and does the eyebrow again. I ask him what he means by it, because it gives me a nervous flutter. He says something, but it doesn't really seem to be words, but I don't feel I can ask him what he meant. I ask him, are the arms from a real spider.
Will they be big enough?
Yes. They've been modified.
And I'll be able to move them?
Yes. That should be no problem?
You don't sound one hundred percent. Shouldn't you be?
Shouldn't I be what?
One hundred per cent.
I suppose I should be, yes.
He says this last sentence with the metallic finality of a cell door. He's doing something now in the corner of the room.
I am becoming a little frightened. I have my mantra, though. Spider arms, I sing to myself. Spider arms. Spider arms.
I go to sleep.
When I awaken, I am on my side. I notice the bleary absence of pain. The lights meld and contort and split, little circles of uncertainty. Everything is very dry and tastes of pyjamas.
Soon, the consultant comes in.
It's not what we expected, he says. But it's fine, and I think you'll like this better.
Is it spider arms?
It's better than spider arms.
Nothing can be better than spider arms.
What is it?
A spider. We have grafted a spider to your back.
She is sleeping.
Yes. She is a she. We have not named her. We didn't think it was appropriate.
I see. This is unexpected.
Yes. The original plan did not work. This is much better.
Hmmm. You're doing the eyebrow again.
Soon, he unwraps the bandages and shows me my back in a long mirror. Sure enough, grafted onto my back is a spider, about 40cm longways.
That's a big spider, I say. I'll have to cut some holes out of my clothes.
I imagine you were going to anyway.
Yes. I suppose that is true.
There is a movement at my back. It tickles. I am reminded of the pen.
She's waking up, he says.
I can see that.
Isn't she lovely.
She's a spider.
She's a lovely spider.
After a few more days, I am discharged. On the way home, I kill a man and drain him dry, but I suppose that was inevitable.