Flash Fiction: The Honey Gatherers, by Angela Readman
The newest instalment in our series of ultra-short stories
Whenever he touches me I think of honey, the slick drip of it silking his hands I let flow over me. Sunlight coats my tongue, glues pleasantries into my mouth. I lick sticky urges, words, and tell him to drive safe. If he forgets to say he loves me, it’s OK. I’m collecting pollen from flowers he doesn’t buy, weeping it into my hive.
The supermarkets taught us how to be with those plastic cards, loyalty points granting the faithful rewards. I am a Honey, finally, a Sugar Babe, the app on my phone tells me. I message just the right amount of :) and xxxs, not so many he sighs, not so few he doesn’t feel someone’s thinking about him when he’s bored. I don’t make a fuss about anything. If I try, too much pops up. :( You are not a honey. This is a guilt trip, a question, a need. I’m relegated to drone.
Some girlfriends wing it, fly out on a storm, tell guys to shove their apologies where the sun doesn’t shine. It’s not worth it, losing the honey. One word could cost me so many points I’ll only be able to love someone unthinkable next time, someone unsigned. They haven’t one :) or loyalty point to their name. Honestly, it’s not worth it. There’s no way of knowing if they’ve earned a honey like me. You’d have to be crazy to love like that, it’s a waggle dance in the dark.
In bed, we lie back to back, bottoms nudging. I hum night night and imagine bees storing pollen over winter. Come spring, I’ll have enough loyalty points to leave. And he’ll have no option but to bumble through his fuzzy life, a solitary worker collecting any bits of honey he can find.
Angela Readman’s fiction is included in Once Upon a Time There Was a Traveller (Virago).