On this winter day in 2021, there were many things happening.
1) Bees were officially classified as extinct. The final bee’s body was being kept in the museum of All the Things That Died and Could Never Be Born Again. The last bee’s wings were pinned with care in a small glass case. The glass case was labeled “The Beginning of the End: Here Flies Forever the Final Bee of Planet Earth.”
2) Although it was winter, it hadn’t snowed at all. In fact, not one fleck of snow had come down. This was the first time in the history of the Northern United States that the temperature stayed above 50 Degrees up until December. No one could predict if it would actually snow or not. Most people assumed it wouldn’t. Many people didn’t care or pretended that they didn’t.
3) A girl was born with no face. She was born in North Dakota. Her parents wept not out of sadness, but out of frantic elation. At one week old, the faceless, nameless girl was shipped from North Dakota and placed in a glass box with two holes in it. The box resided in the same museum as the dead bee. Her face was labeled, “Do Not Touch Me.”
4) Hannah sat and drew a picture of her best friend with her skull cracked open and her brain exposed. She was careful in drawing the thin, pink membrane that peeked beneath the fractured whiteness of her best friend’s head. This was not unusual. It was based around the lyrics to a Radiohead song. There was no other reason that she would have done this.
5) A human body is capable of surviving three days without water and three weeks with no food. After her small, fluttery veins rejected the IV drip keeping her tiny body lukewarm and alive, the girl with no face and no name died two weeks into her exhibition at the museum. Nobody knew how to feed her.
6) There was no funeral for the girl, but if there was, the only person who would’ve wanted to come was the janitor of the museum. After hours, he would place his weathered hand against the cold glass of her box and watch what looked like faceless slumber.
7) When Hannah was seven years old, she often swung on her aunt’s swing set. On a winter’s eve several years before this one, she wandered out into the rare snow and swung. The hornets that miraculously survived winter fell onto her lap in a heap, still in their nest made of holes. As a result of the stings, Hannah couldn’t open her eyes for two days. She didn’t cry.
8) The night before this one, Hannah had a dream that bees were crawling into her mouth. This dream was also in close succession to her losing her virginity. She woke and wondered if the two things were somehow related. She wondered if this is how it felt to be in love.
9) After a very short intermittent period of emptiness, it was decided that the empty box of the faceless girl was to be filled with all of the found carcasses of dead bees that civilians had collected per government-issued command. The bee box was a sold-out spectacle. Everyone who had taste went to see the big bee box. One small boy, who pressed his rosy face to the glass, even suggested that each bee should have a name. All the other little boys agreed and their parents laughed in agreement.
10) At this moment, some ways away, Hannah hangs the portrait of her best friend on her bedroom wall. Hannah didn’t have plans for her life, and that was okay. It was okay, and she told herself so. Isn’t it possible to make things happen by simply telling yourself so? She turns off the lights with the flick of her wrist and leaves the room.
Hallie Nowak is a poet and artist writing and residing in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where she is in pursuit of her undergraduate degree in English at Purdue University Fort Wayne. She is the author of Girlblooded, a poetry chapbook (Dandelion Review, 2018). Her work can also be read in Back Patio Press, Honey & Lime, Okay Donkey, and Noble/Gas Qrtrly where her poem, “A Dissected Body Speaks,” was awarded runner-up for the 2018 Birdwhistle Prize. You can find her on Twitter: @heyguysimhallie and on Instagram: @hallie_nowak.