Contest #18 shortlist ⭐️

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Fiction Speculative Sad

The tears dripped off my nose, down, falling to the ground until they hit the floor and disappeared into the reaching embrace of the ground. I wrapped my arms around my knees and tried to swallow my sobs. My body shook.

Outside, the sky was turning a purple-blue sunset, like a bruise filling the sky. I could hear the whining of the bees outside, pulling the shrill scream of the bees out of the sky like a whirling vortex. I hurt. The sobs racked my body as I tried to quell them.

I was cold. The little house that I had found on this abandoned bee farm had caved in on two sides, leaving the north and east sides vulnerable. Ice had grown in the eaves and my fingers had the strangest tinge of color, very pale white and the lightest possible blue. I stared at my fingers curiously.

I stood, my knees shaking. My mouth closed firmly and my teeth clacked. I moaned and staggered outside. Blindly waving my arms around, I threw myself through the tornado of bees outside, and none of them stung me. Those bees had been around for millennia—I felt as though they’d lived eternally. Eternal bees. The thought struck me as hilarious.  

My tears froze to my face. I couldn’t remember my dream, or why I was crying. My dream was because I was crying. I was crying because of a dream. I found that hilarious and laughed. My dream had involved… bees? Perhaps. Living here, bees haunted me. I ate their little bodies and thought of them and was stung around the clock and dreamt of them. They lived around me and sometimes I wondered if they thought about me much,

My thoughts scattered. I wasn’t thinking. Hungry, cold, tired, hurt. I had to get food.

On the dirt road that led from the bee farm, I saw another little shack—could it be a home? Could a human even stand in that derelict little playhouse? I giggled, coldly, trying to get my brain warm. It wasn’t working.

I went inside. Perhaps this was where the gingerbread woman was, the lady who tried to eat Hansel and Gretel! It was painted a coral-shell pink. A broken chair leaned in the corner, a small table in the other. There was one window, looking out at the tangled brush-forest outside.

There it was, stuffed up into the rafters. A bundle of greasy cloth. I was curious, and pulled it down. It tumbled around my ankles, a long and thick, weather-worn brown burlap coat.

I put it on. It was thick and warm, and when it curled around me my breath came out rosy and my fingers started to look less blue.  

“Thank you,” I told the invisible shopkeeper, bowing to him, “Thank you very much. How much for it?”

“A million ancient bees,” he answered, grinning slyly. Obviously he was a swindler and wanted my prehistoric bees back on the farm that wasn’t even mine—but I had to get this coat of many colors! I loved it, it was beautiful. Perhaps I could eat it, too. It did look warm, warm and delicious.

“Done!” I said, beaming. We shook on it and I paid him a million invisible ancient bees.

I walked outside and he waved at me from the doorway. I waved back and started walking back up the grassy dirt path toward the bee farm. I could hear the screaming buzzing from the ridge before the entrance, and I groaned, holding my head in my hands. My head ached. I had bought a coat, but my stomach was still empty.

“Can I eat bees?” I asked my coat.

It shook its head.

I dug my hands in my pockets and something stabbed my left hand. “Yow!” I shrieked, pulling the hand out as if a piranha had bitten it.

It was bleeding. I raised it to the light and watched the red syrup drip off it.

But soon my mind lost its madness. The coat drove it out. I stopped watching the bleeding and instead wrapped my hand in the grimy sleeve of my new coat. With my right hand I dug into the left pocket. I could feel something cold.

I brought it out. It was a glass bee! A little bit of blown glass, half the size of my hand, big enough to cut myself on a jagged broken wing but small enough to hide from my sight until it stabbed me.

I laughed. But then my brain realized I was warmer, and so warmer, now, I took the glass bee that represented all my millions of bees and put it on the sagging shelf in the small shack.

My belly ached. I thought to myself that perhaps my stomach was carnivorous, eating itself from the inside out in desperate starvation.

I grumbled and then hated myself for complaining. I took off my coat of many colors and wadded it up and lay on top of it. It was the most comfortable pillow I had rested on in many a year. But the fabric was scratchy and the rest of my body was freezing, and so I put it back on and laid my head on the pile of leaves in the corner of the shack. A lot less comfortable and a lot scratchier, but I was warmer.

I looked up at the ceiling, detailed in carvings of bees. I swore that after living on this horrible farm for the months I’d been here, I close my eyes and see moving bees, even in the dark. It’s wretched, I tell you, and I can’t even eat honey. I’m allergic.

I closed my eyes and the ceiling of my eyeballs were detailed in carvings of bees. I dreamt of bees, ancient bees by the hundred-thousands, bees crawling inside of my veins and drinking the elixir that flowed through them, buzzing inside my brain and tormenting my thoughts, fluttering from finger to finger, twining around my neck and throat as a living necklace. My thoughts tortured me.

The ceiling moved with a million bees moving about for bed. I closed my eyes again, curled under my coat, gripping the little glass bee as though it were a lovey for an infant. Silently, without a whisper into the frozen unforgiving night, I let myself be consumed by the bees.

December 01, 2019 22:29

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18:31 Sep 05, 2023

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