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  • Writer's pictureRochelle Estrada

To Fly Like a Bumblebee


Photo Courtesy of ABC Wildlife


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Annie sat on the stone stairwell outside her backyard watching her parents build a shed from scratch. Her knees bounced in anticipation and her hands shook her packaged ice cream as the dessert melted on her hands in the summer afternoon.

 

The sight of her father working with floorboards and her mother waving her floral folding fan in exasperation failed to entertain her. She had been sitting on the stairwell for the past ten minutes as a result of being placed there to avoid running around and injuring herself while her parents worked.  

 

It wasn’t the first time she was placed on the stairwell; she had gotten up three times and continued running past her father while he held an electronic screwdriver and almost hit her in the face.

 

Her parents knew that it would be a bad idea to have Annie outside, but there was no one to supervise her. Annie had the attention span of a goldfish, and her body produced more energy than gamma rays. Her parents loved seeing her running around with glee unless it would cause trouble due to her lack of self-awareness.


That was the case today.

 

Every attempt led to the furrowed eyebrows and stern voice of her mother dragging her back to her seat on the backyard stairwell and giving her a new ice cream bar every time to keep her in place. She knew how much her daughter loved Oreos ice cream bars.

 

Every bite delivered a sugar rush for Annie like a rocket blast, but it became less sweet after the fourth ice cream bar.

 

The firm grasp of her mother’s hand on hers, The wet splotches on her mother’s blue t-shirt, the matching blue Nike cap on her head, the smell of Roma Rose on her mother’s chest and her stern voice seating Annie on a stone became a broken record player.

 

It was torture.

 

In watching her ice cream continue to melt, a bumble bee suddenly landed on top of it. She watched the wings of the bee flutter as small gusts of wind started to ensue. The legs quickly moved upwards, and the tail wiggled repeatedly.

 

The antennae of the bee moved sideways as the bee continued to crawl around the tip of the ice cream bar. The tail began to raise, and Annie noticed the yellow and black stripe patterns as well as the hairs on its legs sway with the breeze.

 

The bee’s skin was like the furs of a winter coat. Annie imagined the little quills tickling her fingertips as it would crawl. The bee continued to crawl down her ice cream bar until Annie felt the sandpaper wings on her nails. It was a light stroke. Annie wanted to pinch the wings and feel its scraps.

 

The bee produced low buzzes as it moved. The bee’s proboscis slurped on the melting ice cream. It was a noise that overpowered the shrieks of cicadas and faint tones of her parent’s voices from the distance. It was a massage for her ears.

 

Annie knew that bees produced honey. She wondered if the bee would provide honey for her and her family to shelter and eat with graham crackers. She already began to envision butterscotch and caramel melting in her mouth and sliding in her throat with its ripe texture making her feel dry.

 

Annie wanted to know what the bee was thinking. She pondered on how cold the ice cream must be, how much sugar the bee was tasting, and whether it liked it.

 

She knew that the bee could leave any second and travel as far as it would want without being dragged back to its original place. The bee didn’t wear a leash like a dog or have eyes from the back of her mother’s head staring at her. The bee was free.

 

She became envious.

  

She thought about what it would be like to have wings, to have stripe patterns instead of pale skin, and low buzzing sounds instead of a high-pitched scream and cries of protest.  

 

She wondered if her parents would let her keep it as a pet. Maybe it could teach her to fly and live in a tree to produce its own honey.

 

Annie reached out with her hand wanting to feel the stripes, but the bee suddenly raised its wings and began to fly away.

 

“Wait! Come Back!”

 

Annie dropped her ice cream and began to run.

 

She held her arms out as she ran, and her rubber light-up sneakers bounced as they touched the gravel ground. She ignored the faint voices of her mother and ran back and forth from one end of the empty driveway that led to the backyard to the other.

 

Sweat began to glisten on her forehead as the sun radiated, and her legs burned with every step. The gravel became grass as she ran around her backyard where her parents stood.

 

“Annie stop running!”

 

Annie ignored her mother, her eyes following the bee in front of her and her hands reaching for it in efforts to trap it in her palms. She noticed that the bee was beginning to slow down, and she grinned.

 

The bee would land on her hands, she would take it home and put it in a jar, she would name it Gary from SpongeBob SquarePants, and she would buy a top hat for it to wear while feeding it pieces of Cheerios and milk. All she had to do was grab it.

 

“Mommy!”

 

Annie stopped in front of the wooden framing of the shed. She watched her finger begin to swell and turn red. Her eyes watered and her lips quivered as she felt the pain course through her hand.

 

“My Finger!”

 

Annie released a sob and dropped to the ground as she wailed in despair. She heard the deep sigh of her mother as her mother and father kneeled in front of her concerned.

 

“What happened sweetheart?” her father asked.

 

“The bee!” Annie exclaimed. “It hurt my finger!”

 

“Were you chasing the bee?” her mother questioned.

 

Annie nodded.

 

“The bee must have stung you,” her father said.

 

“Why?” Annie asked.

 

“Bees sting when they are scared,” her mother explained. “They protect themselves with their tails.”

 

“The bee hurt me!” Annie cried.

 

Her mother engulfed her in a hug and stroked her hair, which became damp with sweat.

 

“I know baby,” her mother said gently. “Let’s go take care of your finger.”

 

Annie kept her eyes on the ground. Her lips were pursed as she saw the stairwell. She wasn’t going to have a pet today, she wasn’t going to learn to fly, she wasn’t going to eat honey.

 

She was going to have a bandage wrapped around her finger, stare at her mother’s shirt and hat again, smell her perfume again, hear her scolding again, feel the scrapes on her knees from sitting on the stairwell, and taste the bitterness of feeling trapped once again.  

 

Annie heard a low buzzing sound. She saw a bumblebee fly toward the wall of her house and land on the corner next to where she stood.

  

She flinched and gripped her mother’s t-shirt.

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