Rhiannon Lewis-Stephenson, traveler, poet, writer, cynic, romantic, and a bit of a freak, a student (as of now) of institutionalized learnings in Humboldt, trying to move to Portland or Seattle.
Beatrice’s mind was art gone wrong, a weathered collage that had been peeling loose ever since he left her. She had led a separate life from me since the beginning, but I couldn’t mind, her innocence prevailed her. I would watch her strange rituals sometimes, her compact self completely still in the warm dirt of our garden with the bees kissing her crimson flowered t-shirt as though she sweated honey. The buzzing did not affect her in the least bit; she would close her eyes like she was listening to symphonies played by Beethoven; the music of the bees surrounding her. They were the heroes of the flowers, their rites so engraved in their communities of marigolds, daffodils, and penny royal, absorbed past distraction. Their work was thorough, gentle, and without selfishness, and I could only believe that I would have not known these simple details of the bees if it was not for Beatrice’s unprejudiced sight. So I loved her, because she took me past the judgment I had held against their stingers, and let me lose myself in their strength.
Some days I found Beatrice in her hole of sadness, having fallen too far in for even the bees. On these days, I would tell her stories of my days in college, still only a sophomore, my two years of college hardly making it a well-known experience; but I knew enough of the bustle and hum of paperwork to feel pain from it. I would explain my hatred of all the endless reference papers I constantly had to cite, the glances and the gossip. I knew that she didn’t care but I felt that one does as one can. Whether she listened to me or not, it doesn’t matter now, but I realize that I could have, and should have, tried harder. She received no one but me when she fell in such a state, and then, in these moments, we were friends.
Beatrice spoke to me less than any person I knew, but in those few words she taught me more than anyone had. “In which that you despise, you love.” Her advice would echo constantly in my head, the little sentences, the strings of poetry she spoke like the trickle of a mother’s breast. The effect of her dark redwood eyes would leave me lost, feeling as though I had been passed through a different place, one unknown to my chosen state.
When she would speak, her lashes would flicker, a half lit lamp. It’s my soul, she would tell me, it has been halfway blown out. Only then would I choose to leave because it was then that the good time would end, the quiet would enter the room, her head would bow down, and the smiles would grow fewer. Her guilt, she engulfed herself inside of it, its hungry belly eating her up until I would feel as though I did not know her.
At times when she was well, I would imagine that maybe she would take me away, her gypsy talk would light me up inside and make the wildflowers look a lot brighter; for she threw reality away like it was naught but a piece of scratch paper:
“We’re the whole thing, Damien, we walk with those who did not burn the witch, we advise those who lose themselves inside these cities. You’re only a part of me, as I can only be that part of your imagination, so I sing to you and you play me guitar. Those who tell of riches and your box houses, they’re the stingers on the bees, the venom in the snake. For whose life are they to judge? Our roads we take are dust-scattered and there the fires burn. You cannot be accepted because you look through glass windows and you do not see where the villain went, but you question why the hero’s heart was broken.”
It would be nonsense speech, and the people who would visit her would leave telling me, “She is definitely not quite right, Damien. Except for her beauty, there is nothing here for you anymore. You are passing your point of common sense, boy, it’s time to quit.”
They would offer me full paid jobs in which I could write my stories whenever I wanted to, in beautiful sites of green grass and oaks, but I could only refuse and think of who’s really all right in the real world.
Beatrice never spoke to me of him, but I knew he was there always, behind her lilted speech, I could feel the hurt inside of her. His bus had come and gone, and he had gotten off a long time ago, but she still held the ticket in her right pocket. Some nights I would find her sitting near the telephone, her wild eyes blank and sad. These moments I would feel the bees inside me bursting to come free and the jab of their precious stingers against my heart, for her love was never mine, and my love was always hers.