by Nicole Hebdon
The Seventh Date
The beekeeper canceled his seventh date with the librarian by sending the text, “diseased hive. may have to put down. talk later.”
The librarian didn’t mind.
The beekeeper had wanted to take her to brunch, a meal the librarian thought was too pretentious for both an insect farmer and a professional book sorter. She had read about the meal in romance novels, the kind of water-damaged books that young mothers would donate around Christmas time each year, but never thought she’d be put in the situation where she had to know what food was able to transcend breakfast and become suitable to be ordered for brunch.
And then there was the pressure to always order honey when out with the beekeeper, despite her dislike for the goop that reminded her of the wax she’d spread above her lip to rip out her blonde moustache.
After work, she decided to stop by the beekeeper’s house unannounced, a privilege she had earned by the fourth date. He was in the field, wearing the suit that reminded her of a homemade astronaut costume, carrying fire to each white-boxed hive.
When he finally noticed her and began to walk through the field of purple flowers, the sky had darkened enough, so that the smoke blended into it and the burning bees looked like fireflies flashing for mates instead of creatures trying to fly away from their own smoldering appendages.
The police found the missing girl’s body behind the candy shop, in an abandoned field of perennial flowers. The chocolatier imagined that some old woman had planted them decades ago to attract humming birds, back before the historic farmhouses of North Street had been ripped down to make room for the strip mall that his shop called home.
He had wanted to find a use for the flowers for years, but the idea hadn’t come to him until he met the beekeeper’s daughter. Her father thought she was useless, but all the chocolatier could see was her understated beauty, hid by loose, color-drained clothing that bunched at her fat like seafoam gathering around a rock.
The chocolatier told the beekeeper that if the daughter collected honey from the fields, that he would buy it and put it in his chocolate, which he’d pitch as “local, organic, artisan candy”. The visiting city dwellers would buy it by crates and give it away at snobby Christmas parties.
And the chocolatier would get to see the daughter bending down to listen to the hum of the hives, lugging sugar water from her car, slipping her gathering-suit over her clothes, draping herself in dirtied cheesecloth until she looked like a resurrected mummy.
The flowers would grow extra thick where the body had fertilized the ground and the bees would be most attracted to those plants, mixing bits of the dead girl into their honey, and the daughter would harvest the girl, so that the chocolatier could have her in his shop.
Nicole Hebdon is an MFA candidate at SUNY Stony Brook with undergraduate degrees in multi-media journalism, magazine journalism and communications. She is the former creative director of DoNorth Magazine and has been published in Fembot, Faeries and Enchantment Magazine, “A Celebration of Young Poets,” Countryside Magazine and Zplatt among other journalistic and creative publications. When she’s not writing, she’s fawning over her rabbit Zychik, reading about mermaids or planning her YA novel.