Short Stories & Poetry

Fatigue: A Story of Susie Bee (Part VI, Conclusion)

It was Dewday, the day before the bee’s extended hibernation. All the year’s filings were done, all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted with beetle ink. Susie’s staff and fellow bees were lining up with quilts and scarves, preparing to help warm the queen through the coming winter months. The grand harvest party was beginning and would end with hibernation. The hive was warm and glowing with hundreds of wax candles. The Bee’s Knees Dance would start later after the parade.

“Susie, aren’t you coming?” a fellow worker bee called out. Her name was Petunia. Petunia was only three weeks old and had a grin the size of a rose on her face.

“I need to finish my reports. You go on ahead,” Susie called from her typewriter, waving an antennae in greeting. “Have fun!”

Susie waited until the hive quieted, the workers all gone from their units. The band started down the hall and a pleasant buzzing began, punctuated with congratulatory speeches from their queen. It had been a good harvest.

Susie rested her head on her arms, waving her antennae in time to the music. She felt peace.

“Did you know?” Susie said to her pet aphid sitting at her feet. “That summer born honey bees live only for about six weeks? But honey bees born in the winter or fall live up to six months. Miss Petunia has a long life ahead of her…”

Susie was sitting at a bus stop, a scarf around her thin neck, humming the War of 1812 Overture. The aphid would jump in time to the beat, pretending he was a cannon ball or fireworks exploding in turns.

“Ah, there’s the queen. I thought maybe she had forgotten me during her soap operas…”

Queen Victoria landed at the bus stop, waving a lace handkerchief over her driver’s shoulder. Her chariot was the size of a matchbox and pulled by two emerald green horseflies.

“Well, come along dear, come along. We’ll get you settled in yet. Bring your aphid, such a dear thing…” Queen Victoria mused, taking the pet from Susie as she settled in besides the queen. “You can sit right here, Suzanne. I brought you both squishy little pillows, just for you, darling.”

The driver changed out the horseflies and soon the party was off. Off where, Susie wasn’t certain. But the sun was warm and there was something pleasanter than honey in the air. And if she squinted, she could just see a vast colony–bigger than she ever imagined–waiting for her on the distant horizon. They were buzzing a song in greeting, dancing back and forth in patient, hypnotizing rhythm.

“So, tell me, child. Did you ever figure out my lesson?” the queen asked while scratching the aphid’s chin.

“Yes. I’m not sure if it’s dead on, but it’s what I came up with,” Susie said after a moment.

“Well, go on, then. Tell me,” chided the queen. “We’ve got a little ways yet.”

Susie took a deep breath, burrowing back in the chariot’s cushions.

“Life is short and life is fragile,” Susie started. “And can end at a moment’s notice. When you showed me the hive burning, some workers left with honey, but most bees left with nothing. Honey is everything to us bees. Without it, we could die.”

“That’s certainly true,” the queen affirmed in her usual no-nonsense tone. “But what’s the larger lesson, love?”

“Work must have purpose and balance with life. If we work too little, we suffer. But if we work too much, we suffer, too. I could never quite get the balance. But if I reminded myself of the bigger picture–that life is transient–it helped. I had busy weeks and slower weeks in the hive, but we met our honey quota anyway. I took better care of myself and learned how to rest again. And the hive will live through the winter.

“Money–I mean honey–is not everything. We work for it, we manage it and it helps our future bees once we’re gone. But we can’t let it control us. The bees in the fire knew even if their hive burned down, they could rebuild. But only if they lived and had each other to share the work. And I think that was your lesson you wanted to tell me.”

The queen hummed approvingly and wrapped her arm around Susie’s shoulder, squeezing her tightly.

“That’ll do, love. Come on now, you both must be hungry! We have our own party to get to. And I do expect you both to dance.”

How did you like Susie Bee? Did this inspire you to write something of your own? Leave your thoughts and links below and I’ll try to check them out. Cheers!

Part I here.

Part II here.

Part III here.

Part IV here.

Part V here.

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