Earlier today, I walked past a hair salon in an indoor market situated within the bowels of a shopping mall in a town where I spent much of my childhood. As a kid, I’d get my hair cut in this particular salon, accompanied by my nan, who would peruse the nearby clothes stalls while she waited. They sold long, billowy dresses and multicoloured scarfs mainly, the kind that older ladies wear around their heads to stop the wind messing up their hair. When I was ten, all the boys my age were asking for the Forrest Gump cut. I believe I got something similar on one occasion, but I can’t be sure. However, I remember one time an older boy sitting adjacent to me getting his mullet pruned told his waiting friend how he fed earwigs to a giant spider in his garage. Apparently, the spider had been there for years and was as big as a rat. I was appalled yet envious. Envious because he seemed so brave, whereas I was—and still am—a coward. A few times as I was getting my barnet rearranged, my nan would finish perusing the clothes stalls and sit in the salon with me reading one of her woman magazines. You know the kind; real-life stories, crosswords, chocolate brownie recipes and rude jokes. To pay homage to her, I visited a store inside the mall and purchased a similar magazine. Returning to the salon, I slipped in, placed the magazine on a coffee table, and shot off before anyone noticed me. There was no point to this. My grandmother won’t know. She’s been gone some thirteen years now. Nor will the boy with the spiders. But, the universe will, and this is good enough.

X and I: A Novel and A Journal for Damned Lovers on Amazon UK

X and I: A Novel and A Journal for Damned Lovers on Amazon US

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