by Elaine Medina
Busy worker bees clamored along. Shoppers buzzing around, honing in on flowers and selecting the ones they’d be choosing. The sweet old lady with her grandson, buying him a lollipop that his mother surely would not approve of; but it brought color to his face and made his eyes beam.
“Granny, could we get a slice of pizza before going to mom’s house tonight?”
The supermarket manager had dribbles of saliva flying out of his mouth from yelling at an employee who’d dropped one too many cases of milk: spilling the liquid like a white flood coming to engulf her and sweep her away. Maybe if it did then I wouldn’t feel so lost. Thinking of a man who is with another– who has always been with another — leaving me like a wilted flower that all the bees seem to overlook–
“How many times am I going to have to take this out of your pay?! Maybe I should just fire you!”
All these bees buzzed and zipped around, not even noticing me. Was it finally happening? Was I finally disappearing, the way he had from my life? The way he’d just thrown me away like I didn’t matter. Maybe I don’t.
I tried to focus on the one-sided cell phone conversation with my friend but lacked the energy. Without my bee I couldn’t focus. But I had to try. He has another. He has another; I kept telling myself. I had to let him go.
“Gwen, are you even listening?” Was I even listening? No. I had no desire for this phone call to continue, but I knew deep down Rose did it out of love. She knew the state I was in. But it was pointless. She was just another droning sound. Another bee buzzing at me. As I stood there in the middle of all these busy bees in the supermarket aisle, I wondered why I even came out to this store? Why did I want to be around all these bees, buzzing and searching when I didn’t know what it was I was searching for?
Then I remembered Rose insisting I start getting my life back in order. To try and forget the man who only wanted my heart in stolen moments. Moments I would give just to have him, even if only for a little while.
“I see him,” I said to Rose. I saw my bee. I saw Devin. After being apart for so long.
“Who? Who do you see?,” came from the cellphone, barely resonating when my eyes were on my bee. On my love yet not love. Because he wasn’t mine. I needed to remember this.
“No one. I have to call you back. I think it’s my coworker.” I pressed the glaring red button to end the call three times just to make sure I’d actually done it.
I lied of course, because if Rose knew who I saw, she’d scream at me to run the other way — even when I couldn’t. My body would never let me. He was like a magnet, pulling me to him.
I could see him through the stacked cans of beans. Could he see me?
Yes. YES. He did. He saw me. He did! He walked towards me. He was coming for me. Coming back to me. He needed me like I needed him. I was his Queen. All the other worker bees buzzed out of his way. And he buzzed out of my way too. Walked right past me.
“Devin…” I called out. But he kept walking.
And I did the only stupid thing I could do before he was gone.
I reached out for him.
I knew I shouldn’t. He for once in our sordid relationship did the right thing, and here I was after everything I told myself after two months apart. Desperate to reach him, when I should be pushing him away; I just couldn’t bring myself to retract my fingers.
I grasped his coat tugging him towards me.
“Devin…” What I wanted to say was I miss you and pick me. I’m yours, not her. But all I could say was his name.
“Gwendolyn. I didn’t see you. Hey.”
I stood there gaping at him. If we’d been in a cartoon, my mouth would have dropped to the floor.
Those were the words that left his mouth after two months apart? He no longer recognized me or knew who I was? I was just this forgettable thing. Something you had to make a sticky note for because he just couldn’t bother to remember me. Couldn’t bother to realize how he’d just ripped me to shreds again.
The buzzing in my chest intensified. The bees gathered around my heart protecting their hive after I opened it and left it exposed again. I knew better and yet at the first sight of him, I went right back.
I let go of him, feeling the burn of his words on my fingertips, like I’d grazed my fingers too close to a candle. Because that’s what Devin was: the beautiful flame dancing atop a candle. So alluring, enticing a bee to its own demise.
I wanted to melt into the shoppers buzzing around us, trying to ignore the show I just put on. I grabbed the basket with the little groceries I’d left discarded and rounded the aisle to make my way to the cashier, but now Devin stood, blocking my path.
“Am I still so invisible you don’t see that you’re blocking my way?”
“I’m sorry I–.”
“Sorry for being an utter and complete asshole or sorry for blocking my way?” I knew I was being immature but at that point I didn’t care. I wanted to hurt him how he’d just hurt me yet again.
“I suppose both.” He gave me that lopsided grin that used to disarm me. I could feel the bees buzzing near my heart, their hackles raised more than my own.
“Marvelous. Wonderful, you supposed both.”
I tried to side step him but he blocked my way again.
“Is this what you wanted? To have me still pining for you? Well revel in the tiny glimpse you almost saw of you having any sway over my life, my emotions, my being because I will never allow you to do that– this to me again. You will never have power over me. I am a Queen. I am–”
And he did the only thing that could have probably stopped me from going further into my tirade.
He kissed me.
He consumed me. Gripping my shoulders, pulling me to him, setting my body alight and all the bees in my chest hummed with pleasure. With no regard for the shoppers buzzing around us. Without a care for who might see us as we held onto each other — with everything we had our bodies melding and mouths devouring one another under the fluorescent lights of the supermarket aisle, with shelves of pastas and sauces surrounding us.
He took until I had no more to give and was too exhausted to fight.
“Devin I’ve lost you,” I heard her say from one of the other aisles, “did you get the sauces?”
Hearing her voice incensed the bees in my chest and they wrapped around my heart, bringing me to my senses.
The hands that were just gripping his chest now pushed away. He released my shoulders and I immediately missed the heat of his touch. I stared at his mouth thinking of what we just did, and that it changed nothing.
“You’re here with your wife.” It wasn’t a question, but a statement. I’d know her voice anywhere.
“Yes. I’m here with her.”
I turned away before he could see the tears fighting to be released.
I went to move around him and leave the aisle and this time he relented.
As I made it to the register I saw her join him with their cart full of things for their life together.
We locked eyes one final time, as if reaching for each other.. Hearts and souls wanting each other.
But never meant to have each other.
The bee buzzed back to his queen.
And I thought: maybe I wasn’t a queen, or the flower Devin would ever choose. Maybe I’m just a bee who’d lost her way.
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Elaine Marie Medina writes fiction and poems. She was born and raised in the Bronx. She is a Daycare Provider, but don’t judge a book by its cover.
Image credit: “Honey Bees,” BluDawson. Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.