We sit on lawn chairs as I watch her finger the honeycomb. She turns it between her fingers, brings it close to her nose and sniffs, always suspicious of the wax. A sluggish hum fills the afternoon as humidity stifles even the mosquitoes. I ignore her glances and focus instead on the beads of sweat swelling on my palms. She pushes the comb against her lips, her fuzzy nape shimmers as she nibbles. She hands me a chunk that she pried from the hive where a thousand bodies crawled then writhed. I refuse it. Her gaze stiffens. She shrugs, drops the battered comb on brittle grass as she flits towards the pool. She sheds her shirt and the pants of her beekeeper suit as she walks, then wades naked into lukewarm water, bees forgotten.
I watch her pull the frames for cleaning. She brags that she knows each of her bees intimately, holds them, touches them. It makes for better honey. I ignore the angry hum of her phone and watch sunlight dry the husk of comb a sour, papery grey. Wisps from her smoker linger in the stagnant air, acrid with my insecticide. I think of the bodies that now litter the hive and the angry hum of her phone. It doesn’t matter anymore. She can never sit still in the frantic whisper of summer; I can never help but think of wasps when I think of bees.
H R Green, a writer from South Africa, now lives and writes in the Midwest. Her work has appeared in print and online in places such as Pank, The Rumpus, and Glassworks.