The spider entrenched on my patio door provided an apt metaphor. Its metallic legs dug into my screen, seemingly attempting a break-in. I watched its bulk from the corner of my eye as I dialed number after number into my boyfriend’s pager. I’d been collecting these phone numbers for months. Either I’d seen them appear on his pager as he furtively tried to hide the beep, or I memorized them from scraps on paper he’d left tucked into various nooks and crannies on his dresser.
I unraveled hard and quick that night. I imagined him calling these numbers, probably forgetting who they even belonged to, and getting one of the women on the line, their voices breathless and eager to hear from him again. Maybe they’d been a one-night stand, or perhaps it was a three-movie deal. He’d denied their existence for nearly a year, in late night conversations, bullying assertions and fervent admissions of love. But when I found the opal ring in his car, wrapped in a napkin with the words “Rachel” girlishly scrawled in ink, reality broke over me like a pail of rocks.
That night, he called just once. Maybe he suspected it was me pounding dozens of numbers into my phone’s keypad, bidding him to call the women he’d cheated on me with so often, so dismissively. I cried into the receiver, still watching that ugly spider twitch and click against the darkness. I denied it all of course, and begged him to come and save me from that spider. To save me from that spider.