Sweet as Honey
by Bradley P. Beaulieu
All was silent as I lay in the rooftop garden above my home. I could remember
neither the reason I'd come nor the duration of my stay. I couldn't, in fact,
remember anything. My mind was so caught in the fugue of slumber that it seemed
determined to hide the answers from me, and my body was so leaden it refused all
calls to action.
I did after some effort manage to flutter my eyes open. Spread above me was a
cloudy, cream-colored sky. The sigh of the Inland Sea returned soon after, and with
it, the drone of my honey bees.
What a welcome sound. What a welcome sound, indeed.
Footsteps thudded toward me. A moment later Joseph Winslow was staring down
at me, his woolen hat crumpled in one fist, his ragged face concerned. "You all
I wanted to answer him. I did. But I was helpless. My mind seemed unable to focus
on anything but the world around me: the air, which smelled of brine and seaweed
and smoking fish; the breeze, which chilled my skin; the ground, which rocked to
and fro as if I were lying on the deck of a creaky old galley. Then, like an
approaching storm, flesh and bone demanded their due consideration. My head
ached, perhaps from the fall. My thumb was sore, and it seemed to be growing
worse by the moment. My breathing, shallow only moments ago, was beginning to
deepen, bringing with it a feeling of suffocation.
Joseph's voice became insistent. "Susanna, are you all right?"
I sat up, coughing. Joseph helped me to my feet, but it wasn't until I had removed
my hat and pulled the bee keeper's veil from around my head and neck that my
breathing came easier.
Everything around me seemed new. There was a partially filled beehive sitting on
the ground nearby. Several of its frames already held bees; the rest were empty.
For the life of me I couldn't figure out what it was doing there. I wasn't planning
to work on the new colony until tomorrow --
I frowned at the painful red welt that glowered on the meat of my thumb. A tiny
black stinger rested in the center of it. One of my bees . . .