The Bees

By Andrea Rouda

I was still half asleep when I noticed an odd spot on the ceiling. “What’s that?” I asked Rick, already dressed for work.

“Nothing. I have to go in early today, I’ll call you later.” The door slammed and he drove off. Now fully awake, I understood that the dark spot was a line of bees coming through a crack in the plaster: first three, then six, suddenly a dozen.

Besides being a city girl, I’m allergic to bees. My husband knew this, having heard the Emergency Room doctor for my last bee sting say, “The next one could kill you.” I jumped up and fled the thickening bees overhead. Cramming a bath towel under the bedroom door, I resisted the urge to crumble into a heap and await certain death and instead, threw a raincoat over my nightgown and ran barefoot to the apartment complex office, not yet open at seven in the morning. I sat down to wait, using the time to reflect on how much my life sucked. A young couple with little money, we had moved into this apartment three months earlier hoping to salvage our deteriorating marriage. What next?

Finally the building manager arrived, eyeing me as if I were a homeless prostitute. “Yes, what is it?”

“We’ve met before, remember? I live in Madison Gardens, just down the road, apartment 3B, and there are bees in my bedroom!”

“So? Don’t you have any bug spray?”

“There are many, many bees, they’re coming through a crack in the wall.” I was bordering on hysteria.

“Well, let’s just see,” she said skeptically. We drove to my apartment in her car. Approaching the building we saw the glass wall of my bedroom, apparently covered with a dark, moving curtain of bees–hundreds, thousands of them. Who could count that high? Miss Skeptic gasped.

Back at the office, she summoned the fire department, the county sheriff, the police and two exterminators, each arriving with major equipment. It turned out that one whole side of the three-story brick building housed a huge colony. “Never seen the likes of it in all my 20 years,” the sheriff declared.

By 10 a.m. my bedroom wall was demolished, asbestos foam covered everything, and dead bees were a foot deep. Miss Skeptic decided to move us into a vacant apartment in the next building until ours could be repaired.

Miraculously I had not gotten stung. Feeling empowered by that fact, I got dressed and called Rick at work. Before I said one word he whispered, “It was bees. I know. I’m sorry.” Explaining that he had fled the scene because he “just couldn’t handle it,” he promised he’d come right home.

Somewhere around midnight he stumbled in, claiming it was someone’s birthday and a group had gone out for a few drinks after work. I moved out the next day. That was 30 years ago. But I can still hear his whisper as if it were yesterday, “It was bees. I know. I’m sorry.”

About Ritta M. Basu, Editor

Ritta M. Basu is the editor of FewerThan500.com, a web journal dedicated to the literary genre of flash fiction. With a background in journalism and higher education communications, Ritta enjoys the craft of writing and the beauty of its brevity. She lives with her husband and their Akita near Chicago.
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