When I was fifteen I stopped eating. I wanted to bring back the bees and ban plastic bags. But mostly I wanted to get my cloak back, swish it along grey corridors and into beige rooms of learning, unseen by the mob. And it worked…sort of.
I banged the drum of protest outside “Shop Rite” our local supermarket. “If you want to shop right bring your own bags” I hollered. And sometimes they did. This ‘phase’ of shunning plastic meant the only morsels to pass my lips came from the farmer’s market. I took the seasonal fruit and the hummus in paper cups from my Mum and left them on the spare food table in the canteen. I had proposed this to the school council to help hungry kids. It helped me. I was always hungry.
The bees were hard to find so I started a gardening club to plant black-eyed Susan and purple coneflowers. I stopped feeling hungry. I lost my boobs and the monthly inconvenience of bleeding. But I still flushed the virgin tampons and took the nurse doled out Advil for appearances sake.
I got the woodwork class to fashion “bee hotels”. Drilling holes and making sure there were no splinters. It was so cute! It was even featured on the third page of our local newspaper. My Mum begged our neighbors for their copy so she could clip the article for my Nan. I checked regularly but no bees came to vacation.
I was an activist so shapeless slogan splattered t-shirts were de rigueur. My hair started to fall out so I bought some yellow and black beanies. “I’m experimenting with a signature look”, I told my sister. ‘I thought you were trying to rock skeleton chic but whatever” she replied.
Boys stopped brushing up against me in the hallways and I didn’t get asked to Prom. I was fine with that. The theme “The Birds And The Bees” felt like a double slap in the face. On Prom night I watched a documentary called “Who Killed The Honeybees?” I was just explaining the dire consequences of ‘Colony Collapse Disorder’ to my Mum when I suffered my own.
I woke to a buzzing and a crackling in my ears, the noise from the drip and the rustle from the plastic mattress protector. My Mum looked jaundice under the hospital lights. She was stroking my arm. It was a peculiar sort of agony for her (she could feel my bones) and for me (it hurt, like rubbing a bruise).
“Oh Beatrice how could I not know?” she wailed in a whisper “I thought it was a fad. How could I not know? Oh Bea!” “Buzz, buzz, buzz” she went. Finally my Dad led her away to get a cup of tea with honey, for the shock. I wanted to say “How COULD you not know? Couldn’t you see I was disappearing like the bees?” I wanted to but I didn’t.
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