Containing In It All Sweetness

He hadn’t ventured into her garden since the funeral. Now, stepping off the screen porch, he realized how much it had changed. The familiar warm smell of honeysuckle and squash blossoms had gone spoiled, mixing with the scent of dead leaves, and the air hummed with a strange buzz.

The hive lay hidden in the back corner, just behind the toolshed she’d hired some neighbor kid to build for an Eagle Scout project. “Non-Euclidean Geometry Badge?” he’d always teased her, but the crooked structure hadn’t collapsed yet.

One bee landed on his shirtsleeve, nestling into the folds in an almost friendly way. If you believed the Hindus—or was it the Buddhists?—every living thing had been or would be human in another life. Someone loved. Someone missed. He looked at the bee. It twitched its wings. More drifted over, surrounding his head like a floating crown.

“Hello,” he said. It didn’t sound as stupid as he’d thought it would. They were alone, after all, him and the bees. Around his feet, everything continued to rot.

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