This is some life writing I did last year whilst completing A215 Creative writing with the Open university.
The Bumble Bee.
Is there a mystical force at work just outside my front door? I sometimes wonder. It’s the portal between reality and home and something always has to happen just as we cross its boundary. I’m suspicious when it doesn’t. Sometimes it’s a forgotten item; water bottles, coats and jumpers. Sometimes it’s the wonder of nature, the streaming rain or howling winds. Today it was a Bumble Bee, I didn’t hear the little wings flapping furiously in flight, or see its black and yellow suit of armour, but Emily did. She stood rooted to the spot, just there, at the door entrance, one foot in one foot out. Complete silence fell upon us as she stood un-moving, her arms out stretched, her face frozen into a position of fear.
‘Mum it’s a bee.’ she said, her eye’s glancing toward me.
I took a deep breath and let the front door slam shut, hoping to scare the ferocious flying insect away. I knew better than to question the where abouts of the bee, instead I repeated the same mantra I have repeated since the first day she discovered that they have a stinger attached to them.
‘It’s ok leave the bee alone and it will leave you alone.’ I said, hoping my voice was convincing enough.
We were running late and any delay would mean cancelling our quick stop of at the park. Her fear quickly thawed as the buzz became a distant hum and off we went.
I don’t like bee’s they move to fast and appear out of no where. Avoid them, that’s the advice, but how when they insist on following you? I hide my fear, or at least I try too. Emily-Rose is a naturally anxious child. She doesn’t need the burden of another persons fear on her young shoulders. So I don’t scream or wave my arms around in a frenzied attempt to avoid the bee, I simply take a deep breath and move away, whilst my thumping heart attempts to break through my rib cage.
‘Have you ever been stunged by a bee mum?’ she said.
I dread these questions. I want to tell her the truth. Nothing good ever comes from a lie, but am I just fuelling her fear? The problem with impromptu questions is you never have time to consider the right way to answer it. The swings are calling us with the schools bell echoing fast behind it, the sun is distracting and the morning rush is upon us.
And there you go the answer is out there, I know what the next question will be, am I prepared? Of course not, I’m too busy enjoying the feel of the warm rays of sun that are finally spilling across my skin.
‘Did it hurt?’
‘Yes it did.’ I said.
Her face looks a picture of horror. Her blue eyes open wide, and her jaw dropped open, I have just destroyed her world. I am mum, I am indestructible, nothing hurts me. I can see the words swimming around in her mind, if the bee sting hurt mum then what will it do to her? Its time to slow down the pace and have ourselves a serious conversation.
‘I was the same age as you. Me and my friends were playing on the big log at the far end of the school playing field when I got stung.’
‘You was just little?’
Children have such a hard time imagining their parents were ever small. They see the pictures and have heard the stories, but like ogres monsters and dragons they suspect these are just ugly rumours or amazing fairy tales, what they are not, is true. In Emily’s world, little mum is an entirely different being to who I am now, she is a small child with blue eyes and yellow hair that looks distinctively like Emily’s most recent school photo. Little mum is a world of amazing bedtime stories and soft tears in granddad’s eyes as he recalls the days gone by, little mum is photographic evidence and prove of our connection little mum is not and never will be big mum, not in Emily’s world.
‘Yep, I was just little.’
I breath deep knowing I have redeemed myself. I am once again Superwoman and nothing can hurt me. I hold her hand a little tighter, her soft fingers interlocking with mine. The sun is beating down on our backs, the birds are chirping and there is a cheerful energy all around us.
‘Did you cry mum?’
‘Yes, a little.’
Here I am again lying to her. Parents would make fantastic politicians, we seem to constantly lie, or bend the truth as a politician might say. Yes I did cry, I screamed so loud that my brother heard it from the other side of the playing field. He came charging over demanding to know who was hurting his sister. My brother had the cutest little face back then. The family blue eyes and porcelain white skin all set together with orange hair, that’s right orange. There are so many ways to describe his hair, auburn, strawberry blonde, ginger or orange. Carrot top that’s what they called him once, just once because he also had the temper to match. So standing there by the old long forgotten log at the far end of the play ground beneath the summer blue skies I screamed whilst my brother attempted to defend my honour.
‘Did it hurt a lot?’
Did it hurt a lot? An amazingly simple question that requires such a complex answer. What she is really asking is what happened next? Did an ambulance come rushing onto the school field with its red and blue lights flashing, did I lose a limb, did a war break out around me the little people versus the bees, was a potion required that could only be obtained from the highest peaks of the highest mountains. She wasn’t looking for a simple yes or no, she wanted to know everything.
‘No just a little.’
‘Did you have to go ‘ospital ?’
‘No. No hospital. They stuck an onion on it and made me sit in a classroom.’
‘An ONION, where did it stinged you?’
‘It was on my neck, but it’s all healed now’
Of course this revelation means we have to stop so she can investigate my neck. Her small hands hold back my hair and she leans in closely, other mums, dads and people with kids are having to walk around us as we kneel in the middle of the cold damp alley that leads to the school gates. The sun never reaches this far and the alley is always cold and dreary, no flowers grow here, no bees fly here.
‘Mum, if you get stinged in your belly the sting goes right through and you die.’
And there we go, her fear of the little buzzing black and yellow insect has a root cause.
‘Emily, has daddy been letting you watch futurama again?’ I know the answer is yes before she even has to speak. Mentally I am thinking of the best way to handle the situation, should I string him up first and then torture him? Or perhaps a marathon day of Barbie movies will do the trick?