“I don’t feel anything,” my boyfriend told me. He was staring at some honeybees pollinating flowers in the garden. They buzzed from one blossom to the next. “Tell me a story,” he said, his eyes fixed on the bees.
I reached out for his hand and rubbed my thumb in circles on his palm, smooth like stone from all of the stories I’d told him before. I closed my eyes and plucked an untold memory from my jar.
“One time I wrote wishes around my Latin vocabulary words,” I said. “Volō, velle, voluī–to wish, to want. I wanted a love that was sticky and syrupy, that glimmered like crystals in the moonlight. I didn’t think Venus listened. Habeō, habēre, habuī, habitum–to have, to hold. But years later you walked up to me in a coffee shop and offered me a packet of honey for my tea. You said, ‘You look too sweet for such a bitter drink,’ and I laughed when you winked at me.”
I wrote words with my fingertips–softly, inked with whispered love–on his arms, asking, “Do you see me? Do you feel something now?” I hoped my words would reach a vein, wondered if I could create life.
“More?” he asked.
“More,” he demanded.
I told my story with a flourish, with a legato melody.
I poured honey fresh from the comb into his mouth and watched it drip delicately from his lips to the ground. I licked the remains from my fingers and winced. How long had the honey been bitter?
Ferō, ferre, tulī, latum–to endure. As I spoke, he looked ahead, his expression unchanged, and the bees returned to their hive. Slowly, he began to crumble–a bit of his forehead, an ear, both eyes–falling like stones from a cliff into an ocean below. I told stories, rubbing my thumb in circles on his palm until it turned to sand.
Haley Petcher earned her BA from Auburn University and her MA from the University of Louisville. Currently, she teaches high school English in Huntsville, AL. You can find her work in Pithead Chapel and learn more about her on Twitter (@HaleyPetcher) and through her portfolio (http://petcherpages.wixsite.com/portfolio).