Marcella was a girl with bees inside of her. Most afflicted kids had their bugs removed when they were little, but Marcella always hid hers. She had hid them for as long she could remember. Her parents never noticed. It wouldn’t have made sense to them anyways; they never had bees as kids. Yet Marcella did. She couldn’t remember why she ever hid them in the first place.
Maybe I was scared I’d be in trouble? She would wonder.
It was frowned upon to have bees when you were older. They were aggressive, dangerous, and latched onto their host’s emotions. While most kids would learn this in a PowerPoint presentation in elementary school, Marcella learned this the hard way. It was a muggy Friday afternoon when she walked off Bus 920.
“Y’all be careful now,” The bus driver called out sweetly.
Marcella’s bus-mates screeched joyously as they sprinted into the neighborhood. Marcella herself, however, couldn’t join the weekend cheer. All she could think about was the Lunch Bell that day.
She had sat alone on the far end, bees buzzing through her head. She looked to the other side of the cafeteria to witness a ginger-haired girl, Charlotte, giggling with a group of 8th graders. Charlotte had been with Marcella through thick and thin; she was the peanut butter to her jelly, the cookies to her milk, her best friend. They had done everything together in elementary school. Now marked a week since she had sat next to Marcella. In fact, Charlotte had completely ignored her since she met that new boy, Dylan. She had promised Marcella she would sit with her Friday, pleading to her in that sweet voice of hers. It was Friday, and still Marcella gaped as Charlotte’s fake smile swallowed a new entourage whole. She felt the bees inside her crawl to her heart while she watched the whole lunch period.
As Marcella relived the events in her head, she felt a sharp pang in her chest.
I’m alone now. She never did care about me.
She knows. What if she tells them? What will they do to me?
Three, four stings.
Marcella felt tears well up in her eyes. Every word that came out of the children’s’ mouths was drowned out by the roaring of her anguish. A swarm festered in her head. But a loud thud from behind her interrupted the lament. Marcella snapped her neck to see two large kids looming above a lanky, distraught 14-year old. The boy was clutching a mess of school papers, as one of the older students grabbed a thick notebook from the pavement.
”Hey Twig! What’s this, your DIARY?” He cackled.
“Shut up! G-give it back!”
“Twig” tried to snatch the book from the bully’s hand, but only ended up diving back into the pavement. The mean middle schooler adjusted his hat, cackling at his weak adversary. His friend joined him and started crumpling up the loose papers on the concrete. Then he started to throw them back at the skinny boy. The vibration of wings filled Marcella’s head. She could hear their aggravated buzzing ring in her ears. She felt sympathy for the fellow reject, wanting the torment to end. However, the agro insects were already starting to crawl into Marcella’s throat. If she just kept her mouth closed, she wouldn’t get in trouble.
Besides, what’s that kid ever done for me? It’s not like he’d stand up for me anyways.
The swarm started to withdraw slowly, and Marcella began to turn back down the neighborhood. The somber buzzing of the bees began to refill her mind.
I have enough to deal with. He’ll be fine.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw one of the bullies pick up a sharp rock.
Marcella’s bees violently flew from her mouth.
“LEAVE HIM ALONE!”
The dark mass of stinging insects loomed over the bullies. They screamed, stumbling over each other as they bolted down the sidewalk. The skinny kid recoiled, waiting for the assault. The bees did not go back into hiding like Marcella had hoped. Instead, they rested on her arms cautiously. She was definitely crying, but she pretended like the bees weren’t there.
“Are you okay?” She managed to ask, reaching her hand out.
The boy looked at her arms. Hesitantly, he grabbed her hand and teetered to his feet. To Marcella’s dread, the boy’s eyes started filling with tears. She could already feel pinching at her heart.
“I-I’m sorry! Please stop crying,” she sobbed.
“No no! Look,” the boy panicked, lifting his sleeve up.
To Marcella’s surprise, hundreds of beady eyes looked up at her. The dark insects quietly meandered up and down his arm. Their abdomens flashed light rhythmically.
“You’re just like me…” he sniffled.
Marcella touched his arm, watching one of the little glimmering bugs wander into her hand. The boy managed a weak smile.
“Did your parents let you keep yours too?”
“My parents don’t even know…”Marcella scoffed.
“You hid BEES for this long? How could you, they’re so-“
The boy stopped when he saw the embarrassment on her face. He looked away, flustered.
“Sorry-and I won’t tell anyone, I swear!” he reached out his other hand, “I’m Mark.”
Marcella received the handshake.
“Doubt those jerks will be saying anything either; you scared the pee out of them.”
She giggled as tears streamed down her face.
“They better. You said your parents let you keep yours?”
Mark scratched his head, “Yeah, they’re pretty weird. I heard the principle call them hippies last week-”
Marcella listened to Mark rattle on while she helped pick up his scattered possessions. Her ears were not just filled with the buzz of bees, but the buzz of good company. Unhidden in the hazy afternoon light, the two glowed and buzzed together as they walked home.
“Guess this is my stop,” Mark shrugged, “It was cool meeting you, Marcella.”
“Yeah, cool meeting you too. And your fireflies,” Marcella snorted.
“Sooo… I guess I’ll see you Monday?”
Marcella’s heart soared gently like her bees’ wings.
“Yeah. See ya!”