Written by Duckie Harwell

Art by Elizabeth Illustrates

Mama used to love me once upon a time. Before my hips grew out, and my voice grew loud. Back when I hid behind her legs in the grocery store, too shy to come out from the safety of the back of her knees. 

A child’s biggest comfort lies within the joints of their mother. The places few ever touch. A joint is a hinge, and my mother the door. 

I think of my mother’s love when I’m stung by a bee. The stinger embedded in my skin, the poison seeping in. A wound made out of desperation for survival. 

My mother wanted my survival to lie with her. 

A piercing prick from an insect

It resurfaces a memory.

Mama hands me honeysuckle. The small, soft orange bloom a trumpet between my fingers. The scalloped edges grazing my wrist. I turn it and suckle at the bottom, its sweet nectar falling onto the tip of my tongue. It tastes like summer and sugar. Little drops of sunshine. I imagine them falling like raindrops in the morning mist, melting into the ground. The honeysuckle roots getting drunk on the ambrosia. 

My fingers are stained from cherries, my wrists and lips sticky from the juice of peaches. My shoulders were dark from the sun, and my hair fell in curls mama said reflected my soul. Tangled, frizzy, and wild. I hand her back the flower and she presses it between two pages of a book. 

I wonder when someone will drink from me, and press me tightly between the pages of a book so as to keep me forever. I ask my mama this and she laughs, her hazel eyes golden in the sun. She takes her hand and sweeps my hair back from my face and kisses my forehead. She is always kissing my forehead. It always leaves a mark. Her dark red lipstick staining my forehead, a wet pucker of pure warmth. She doesn’t answer the question, just hands me another honeysuckle, this one a burnt orange. The nectar tastes even sweeter. 

Just as I’m about to hand it over to my mother a bee flies out and stings my hand, and I burst into tears. Mama’s face screws up, like a whirlpool of water. She grabs my hand and takes me inside, covering the sting in a paste made out of baking soda and water. My hand stops stinging immediately. 

“There we go.” she croons “All better.”

Her smile is blinding. She smooths my hair back and kisses my forehead.

“I’ll always take care of you.” She promises. 

What happens when you want to take care of yourself?

A mother’s love is a bee sting. The baking powder your backbone. 

I count the knots of my spine like the beads of a rosary, and when my prayers are met with indifference I make my own liberation on baking powder and water.

I remove the stinger. 

Duckie Harwell

Duckie Harwell resides in Fort Worth, Texas where they are taking some time off from college to pursue publications in both prose and poetry. They have a keen eye for detail and a clear, unique voice. They have a passion for reading, writing, and helping authors works blossom into beautifully finished pieces.