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“No, of course not.” I stood there, eye to giant eye with a bee, and it wasn’t fear that made me agree that the bee looked anything but stupid. On the contrary, I felt stupid for imagining that Leiliaticia and the bee had grown huge; in fact, I had shrunk to roughly the size of the fairy, meaning that the bee was now the size of a small pony. And yet, standing there, waiting for me to mount him, he seemed completely non-threatening. “Fazizt?” I asked. “Is this all right with you? That I climb on?”

Fazizt and Leiliaticia exchanged startled glances. The bee bent his six knees to make it easier for me. I grasped the soft hairs – so silky, so much finer than fur – and I pulled myself onto the bee’s back. The buzzing sound he made was now akin to a cat purring. “Thank you, Fazitz.”

I sensed that the bee was used to dodging the panicky hand-waving of humans, their aerosolized poisons, and plastic swatters they aimed at all six-legged creatures, but that he had never encountered a human who asked permission for anything. Even my Nana took the bees’ labor for granted. She loved her bees, of course, but I could not recall her ever talking to them. To be fair, she probably didn’t imagine they would understand a word she said. She was never unkind, but it made me uncomfortable, now, to think of how she referred to them as “her hives,” and “her bees.” I felt ashamed for all the times I’d run carelessly through the wildflowers, weaving and dodging, trying not to get stung – never once thinking of the cost to Fazitz, and his colony, should a stinging be called for. I bowed my head, thinking of all the times I’d enjoyed sweet, sticky honey on Nana’s hot, homemade biscuits, without once wondering how I might repay the bees we’d stolen it from.

We flew high over the open, sunny fields. Lush, green grass grew long, dotted by delicate, almost translucent pink and lavender primrose, bright orange and yellow firewheel, crimson-hued Indian paintbrush, and bluebonnets the color of the sky on a summer’s day. Along the western edge of the field there was a dry, cracked, parched patch of dirt that was once Mr. Greer’s farm. No one had lived there, or worked the land, in five or six years. Weeds were gradually filling in the cracks, but it looked scruffy and unwelcoming, unlike the field of wildflowers. A few curious birds, playfully surfing the breeze, joined us. Leiliaticia waved them off.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, alarmed at her unwelcoming frown.

“Fazizt and I aren’t ready to be someone’s breakfast,” she grumbled. “Are you?”

“I hadn’t thought about that. They seemed to be having fun.”

“Takes a big breakfast for them to fly like that,” she said.

We swooped and dropped from the sky, suddenly, to skim the carpet of flowers. Their scent, so delicate as to go almost unnoticed, was suddenly overwhelming. It was not sweet and cloying, like cut flowers on Mother’s Day. It was a rich, earthy mix of petrichor and sunshine. I could smell something else – warm bees. Their bodies vibrated as they moved from flower to flower, and they smelled a lot like a small child that has eaten too much candy, then run to the point of exhaustion, only to fall down laughing and rolling in newly cut grass. Delightful! I breathed deep, and suddenly my face was covered in powdery yellow pollen. Sneezing, I began to giggle. The colors swirled together in the sunlight as puffy yellow dots fell around me like snow. I stretched out my arms, turned my face to the sky, and opened my mouth to catch it on my tongue, like snowflakes.

“Fazitz!” cried Leiliaticia, “Get her out of here!”

Fazitz wove through the air. It was dizzying and exhilarating. Leiliaticia landed on the poor bee, behind me, and held onto me. “Whas going on?” I asked, my words sounding far-away and dreamy and slightly drunk. “Where we going now?”

“Hurry!” Leiliaticia urged. I leaned back against the fairy and passed out, with a big, goofy grin on my face.

 

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