Branches scratched at her face and arms as she raced through the underbrush. She had to put as much distance between herself and home. As darkness fell, her footing became more and more difficult. She stumbled more than once, but kept running in her attempt to escape... escape what? She wasn’t quite sure.
Tears began to well up in her eyes as she paused to take a breath. She had ran without thought of direction or distance. She looked around to see where her desperate flight had taken her. Oh, of course. Honey had known all along where she was headed. The one place that felt as safe and comfortable to her as home. Maybe even more so. Her hive. Well, maybe not her hive.
About a year ago Honey was exploring the wooded park near her home when she almost bumped into a small box partly covered up with dead branches. She was about to get a closer look when she noticed the bees going in and out of a small opening of the box. She must have knocked a branch against the hive because suddenly the air was thick with bees. She and her friend ran screaming for safety. She got two stings that day, her friend three. They hurt like hell, but she was fascinated by the whole experience. After the tears and being treated for the stings by her “mom” and dad, Honey watched her stings as they swelled up, then became hard, almost like her bones had developed a growth. And then as the swelling subsided, the itch! Phew! that may have been worse than the sharp pain of the initial sting.
Wanting to know more, Honey looked up bees in the internet and checked out books about them and urban bee keeping at the library. Eventually she worked up enough courage to go back into the woods. She had already decided that someone must be tending the hive. The hive wasn’t in a tree like they would naturally be. And when she thought about the way the branches were covering the hive, she figured someone was trying to keep it out of sight. As she approached the hive, she was more nervous about the human she might encounter than the bees in their hive. But when a bee buzzed by her head and she almost swallowed her tongue, she thought, “maybe only a little.”
Honey felt that this discovery was somehow meant to be. She was just coming out of a rather difficult year. It was the fall of seventh grade and sixth grade had been terrible! A new school, new kids, new jerks, and one awful social studies teacher. But the hardest thing to deal with that year was a new mom. Honey’s mom, her real mom, died when she was in kindergarten - actually while she was there, in the classroom, during story time! Some freak car accident, a hit and run that Honey never got all the details to. Her dad came and picked her up, tears in his eyes, holding the hand of Honey’s big sister, Bea, who looked as scared as Honey felt looking at the two of them standing at the entrance of the classroom. She immediately ran and hugged her daddy’s leg as she always did, but this time not out of love and excitement at seeing him, but out of fear. It was easy to see that something was wrong. She still remembers the next few days days as if they were yesterday. She can remember crying herself to sleep, dreading going back to school. Would her dad die if she went back to kindergarten? And she remembers the deep sorrow. But what she doesn’t remember so well is her mom. And that makes her as sad as missing her. After that, school became a challenge. It seemed like she was always getting in trouble and her report cards reflected the little effort she put into her school work. Her counselor says the trauma of that day in kindergarten has given Honey negative associations with school, and combined with the difficulty of adjusting to the new family dynamics, blah blah blah. Whatever, she’s over it now. Seventh grade was cool, and eighth grade should be even better.
Her dad met a nice woman a few years later and got married to her a couple of years after that. It was the summer after 5th grade. Justine had been nice enough as her dad’s girlfriend, but not so much as Honey’s mom. To keep the peace, her dad insisted that they “get help”. After a year of family therapy, they had worked it out. Now Dad, Justine, Bea and Honey were one happy family. Well, mostly.
So after enduring sixth grade and learning to get along with her new stepmom, she had felt she was due something special. And this secret bee hive may be just the thing. And after all, her name was “Honey”, “Honey S. Jar”. Only her real name wasn’t “Honey” at all.
(to be continued...)