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  • Ginger Pennington

The Beating of Bees' Wings

Updated: Sep 16, 2019

Two nights ago, a cool breeze slid over my bare arms, snatching me out of dreams. I lifted one eyelid just enough to glance at the time---4:02 a.m.---and reached out with my left hand for the sumptuous purple blanket I always turn to when the California night flips from balmy to breezy.


"AGH!!!" I screamed, as my fingers closed around the plush.


"What happened?" Kai mumbled into his pillow.


"Something stung me, or bit me! Ow! What the heck?! It feels like a bee!" Kai was up now. He examined the blanket while I fumbled with some eye drops to wet my desert corneas, then held my palm under the light. Where the sharp throb was concentrated, there seemed to be a stinger, which I scratched away to reveal a tiny hole in my skin. "Yep, it was a bee," Kai said, laying the culprit to rest outside our front door while I retrieved an ice pack from the freezer.

Two days later, my hand looks like a latex glove that someone has blown up into a balloon. I can't close it, and the skin is shiny and stretched over what used to be my knuckles. Yet even as I struggle to hold my toddler's hand with this useless appendage (I just had to retype the word "appendage" four times to get it right), I can't help but think: what a miracle.


Can you imagine how many seemingly mundane events had to converge just so that this stray drone and I might have such a painful chance meeting at four o' clock in the morning?

-I had to have been serving meatballs at a downtown warehouse party in 2012 in order to have met Kai Chapman.

-Kai had to save the slip of paper I had stuck into his back pocket with my phone number on it, and text me his interest.

-Kai Chapman had to have been single and willing to go on a date with me six months later when I was finally single, and we had to have a good time on that date in order to continue our romance.

-Predators and pesticides in rural areas had to get so bad that bees started feeling unsafe.

-I had to be convincing enough that Kai would agree to move to Santa Monica with me at the end of 2013 despite his misgivings about the length of our relationship and the price of living by the beach.

-We had to be only able to afford a one-bedroom.

-My birth control had to have negative hormonal effects on my sanity, which caused me to ditch the pills and begin using the symptothermal method of birth control (taking your temperature to know when you're ovulating can be successful!). -The bees had to decide that city green spaces were actually safer and more nutritious than their old homes, so they, too, moved to Santa Monica. -I had to get lax with my temperature-taking and forget to bother one November day, the same day that Kai and I went to the Wi Spa, resulting that relaxing evening in an unplanned pregnancy.

-On the day of conception, my ovaries had to drop two eggs so that we would have twins.

-Kai had to be taking classes around the corner from our dwelling so that we would be persuaded to remain in our 1-bedroom rent-controlled apartment even with two additional family members.

-We had to give up our bedroom to said twins and begin sleeping every night on the pull-out couch in the living room. -The sun had to be angled in such a way during the afternoon of August 30th that caused me to hang this purple blanket on our front door in order to absorb the reflected light and thus cool our living room. (Strange tactic, but it works.)

-The bee had to have come into our house just as I was removing said blanket from the door in order to get trapped in the blanket for hours.

-The breeze had to accelerate to the right speed and come from the right direction to hit my bare arms and wake me, and my hand had to land in just the right place to grab the bee.

That's not even a fraction of the actual math that yielded the swollen results of this nighttime encounter, and already it's impressive. If even one event happened differently---say Kai had washed his pants without finding my phone number--the bee and I might have never met such a deliciously painful mid-night fate.

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© 2019 by Ginger Pennington