No. 7 – the bees

3 Feb

You can’t stop looking. It is obvious that looking is the exact opposite of the proper thing to do. But you can’t quit. And every time you look, it makes you so nervous that you light another cigarette. The smoke temporarily kills the bees that are buzzing and swarming in your gut, but when you look at her photograph again, they just come back to life.

You smoke Lucky Strikes because that’s what you heard Kurt Cobain smoked. You used to fantasize that you’d die at 27, the way he did and the way Janis Joplin did and the way Jim Morrison did, but nobody even knows your name and wouldn’t care anyway. You know this deep down, but you still couldn’t help the surprise when your 28th birthday arrived and you lived through it. Then you were 29 and 36 and 42 and death never came for you and you never got famous.

In fact, if I had to title your autobiography, it would be called Death Never Came & I Never Got Famous. Or something. Anyway, you aren’t memorable for anything except being extremely odd and acting creepy around women. You stammer and clear your throat repeatedly in line at the A&P when the checkout girl is remotely pretty, even if she’s obviously a high school student working after school shifts, and you’re nearing middle-age and starting to go bald around the temples. She’ll hand you your change and politely decline the offer of your idea of a witty joke or maybe even your phone number. She’ll smile and tell you to have a nice day, but her eyes are full of terror.

The same thing happens with the Starbucks barista. Every time you leave the establishment, the conversation is the same. The pretty girl with the dark, curly hair turns to her co-worker and complains that you’re the guy who always comes in and mistakes good customer service for a come on. They talk about how you give off a serial killer vibe and start quoting lines from “Silence of the Lambs,” then laugh. The baristas agree it’s totally gross when a customer takes advantage of the situation they’re in and makes the entire transaction creepy. They both roll their eyes, but you never see this. At Starbucks they believe in good customer service.

You’ve been stalking this girl on the Internet for a while now. It is stalking, but you call it “being interested.” You visit her blog more than 10 times in a day. You have looked through all 2,071 photos of her on Facebook, twice. You know her home address, her cell phone number, where she went to college, what the outside of the building where she works looks like, her parents’ names and social security numbers. This information is all readily available and easy to procure. Other information is more difficult to find, like what her favorite color is, for example and what she throws in her trash. However, you could find that information out with a bit of determination. When you’re interested in someone, the determination flows.

You look at her photograph again, the one you printed at Staple’s and taped to your computer monitor. The one where she’s smiling for her husband who is behind the camera, but you know it’s secretly for you. She’s never said it and you’ve never actually met in person, but you know she’s in love with you. Her eyes are so blue.

The bees swarm.

You’ve lost track of how many hours you’ve spent trying to decide if her eyes are blue or actually green, a fact that disappoints you since you fantasize about conversations you’ll have with her someday, in which you present to her statistical data on how much you’ve thought about her over the years. You think she’ll be impressed with your dedication.

The bees begin to sting and fly into your throat. You light a cigarette and smoke them back down to your stomach where they lie in wait, a dull, moving hum.

In your email there’s a new message. It’s from her. It’s not good news. She says she feels uncomfortable with your friendship, that some things you’ve said have really bothered her and creeped her out. She prefers you stop contacting her. She’s afraid of you.

The bees rage.

Once a girl broke up with you in high school. It was your first girlfriend ever. You went out for a little less than six months and she wrote you a letter asking you not to call her anymore. You went home and chased a bottle of Advil Migraine with a bottle of whiskey. You thought that would show her.

When you woke up in the hospital the next evening, you called your mom and asked if she had explained to your girlfriend what had happened. She said yes, she had but that your girlfriend had hung up on her. You lie in your hospital bed feeling dazed. You wonder why she hasn’t come to see you, begging you to take her back and feeling terrible for what she made you do.

She never comes to visit and never talks to you again. She’s afraid of you. When she sees you in the hallways at school she tries to ignore you, but her eyes are full of terror.

The bees are in your throat now, choking you. You light another cigarette and stamp it out on your arm. You tear the girl’s photograph from your computer monitor, fold it up and swallow it. It presses the bees back down to your stomach, but they’re eating through the paper. Your pulse throbs in your temples where you’re losing your hair and you light another cigarette.

I’ll make her sorry, you think to yourself. You pick up your cell phone where her phone number holds the prominent place of first in your favorite contacts list. Hands shaking, you type out a text. It’s hard to type because the bees are getting through the paper of her photograph that now sits in your stomach. One by one, they’re darting toward your esophagus. The entire world seems to have turned into one pulsating, electric throb.

“By the time you read this I’ll be dead,” you type out and touch the send button. You crawl into bed, bees buzzing inside you, your whole world seeming like a carnival ride that’s gone out of control, but no one pulls the lever to stop the spinning. There is no hope anymore. You pull your sheet up over your head and grind your teeth until you fall asleep.

When you wake up, it’s morning. Something is crawling across your forehead, close to your eye. You slap it away and it buzzes toward the window. It’s a bee. It reaches the window and rams itself into the glass over and over again with tiny thud thud thuds. It is trapped. It’s nature tells it to go toward the light to get outside where it will be free again. The only light in the room comes from that window. The bee flies in circles, always ending up at the window, continuing to thump against glass with its fuzzy body. You watch it for six hours before it drops into the windowsill and stops moving.

 

© Ashley Noelle, 2012. All rights reserved.

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2 Responses to “No. 7 – the bees”

  1. holidayfrmreal February 8, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

    Hi, I came across your blog and this story is amazing.
    I can’t wait to probe through your blog a bit more and read other pieces.
    Thank you for sharing (:

    • Ashley Noelle February 10, 2012 at 8:29 pm #

      Thank you so much! Hoping to update much more as soon as vacation is over. 🙂 I really appreciate your stopping past!

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