'The Flea' by Adam Lock
We spent the second night in our new house rubbing calamine lotion into the flea bites on each other’s ankles, backs of knees, and hip-bones.
‘Told you we should have made them take the carpets with them,’ Jess said, lying back on the settee.
‘And buy new carpet with what?’
‘I’d rather have bare floorboards than this.’ She lifted her leg to show me her ankle. ‘That damn dog.’
‘It was pretty old.’
‘Look,’ she said, showing me a row of five red, haloed bites on her waist. ‘They’re really sore, Craig.’
‘I’ll make some calls tomorrow. You want me to ask mom if we can sleep there tonight?’
She moved to the edge of the settee and looked around the living room. There was a space reserved in one corner for a TV. Two bed sheets covered the front window. Next to the settee was a deck chair. At the back of the living room, next to the patio doors, covered in a red towel, was an old wooden garden table Grandad was throwing out.
‘No,’ she said. ‘I want to stay here.’
It took the rest of the night to take up every piece of carpet in the house and put it in the back garden.
At midnight, we counted each other’s bites and rubbed more lotion into each other’s skin. Jess had seventeen more bites. In bed, we ate a french stick and drank a bottle of red wine. We listened to Fleetwood Mac and Jess tried to remember a poem she’d studied at University about how the blood of two lovers is united in the body of the flea.