One summer, while you were walking along the canal, a cloud of bees settled on your head.
You kept very still and let them crawl through your hair, tickling your scalp with their tiny feet. You let their wings beat your face. It may have been hours or days, you just standing there trying to rein your thoughts in so they didn't produce screams. If they buzzed into your ears some secret that would help you later on down the road (for there is always some such creature that whispers some such secret, and it is in us to forget their words until some pivotal moment), you couldn't know, though you listened very carefully – scared, as you were, for your life.
For your mother had warned you about bees. Their stings are incredibly painful, she said. They feel like little jolts of lightning going through your nerves. And after they sting you their stingers stay embedded in your flesh, so when they try to pull out their entrails are pulled out of their bodies in a miniscule string, and then they die, the bees. It's hell digging a stinger out of you, you need to go to a doctor for that. Also, some people are allergic to bees – they swell up and die of asphyxiation after a single sting. That's what happened to the boy in My Girl. He was so young, wasn't he? Some people are just unlucky like that and you can never tell if you're one of them.
At last the bees grew bored or remembered something else they had to do and flew off en masse. You walked home; your legs had aged decades during that period of standing, acquiring the feel and creak of old ships.
Yet it was all right – more than all right – when you got back. Your mother was standing over a wooden box, pulling a comb dripping with honey from its rumbling interior.
“It's got an unbelievable flavor,” she said. “I've never tasted anything like it. I can't imagine where they've been.”
Carmen Lau's fiction has appeared in The Collagist, Gigantic, Hayden's Ferry Review, Fairy Tale Review and other journals. She is working on a collection of Hometown Stories. Find her online at carmenslittlefictions.wordpress.com.