The Bee Keeper
Andrea keeps bees in jars. Their buzzing soothes her, especially when it’s laboured and lazy in the hours before death. She doesn’t crush them, pull off their wings or assault them with chemicals. She gives them time, leaves lids untightened and tilted to let in air, but not enough room for escape. Just like he does for her. The shed windows, although heavily boarded, crack open an inch to allow a shiver of sweet outside breath to slink through.
She knows he’s puzzled by her hobby, amused at how she spends her daily hour outdoors, indulges her with coloured jars of all sizes. They shimmer in the light from the bulb, bare since she smashed the Hello Kitty lampshade in her first week here. Pretty shadows dance, masking struggle and death.
She used to struggle, when he first took her. Too tired now. She wonders if he misses her screams, shouts and scratches. She supposes he must, just as she misses the bees in winter. This is her third collection.
She pictures other girls and boys like her, caught by men like him, gathering bees in jars, storing them in attics, basements, locked rooms or sheds, seeking comfort in that last, languid buzzing.
She remembers Miss Callaghan, her year six teacher – her last teacher – talking about bees. Without bees the world will end, she said. Andrea imagines all the trapped children, bringing an end to the world that forgot them, by the only means they have – keeping the bees.