You, you and I girlI used to sit in the front seat of the truck, doors open, dirty feet up on the dashboard, sweat running down my neck and back, trying to sleep in the shade while Lochlan worked in the hot sun setting up the foundation amusement rides (the wheel, bumper cars, haunted house). He could do some of it single-handedly but he liked the company. He would sing along with the radio. Easy-listening. I used to listen to him sing and wish my name was Amanda, after the song by Boston. Then I could be someone else. Someone who was so wanted they got a song written about them. A slow-dancing song. The bridge he sings with passion. It would be twenty years before he would helpfully point out he sang about us and hardly registered the fact that the girl's name in the song was different.
We can share a life together
It's now or never
And tomorow may be too late
That's not the important part, Peanut, he tells me, wiping my face and neck down with a clean handkerchief when he comes over to check on me. Where's your water? I had a Tupperware tumbler with a lid with a spout. It was yellow-green. I lost it in the field somewhere an hour ago when I put it down and never saw it again for all the grass. Oops.
I thought you had it, I lie.
He frowns. You're getting dehydrated. He leaves my range of view and then comes back with all the problem-solving skills of a sixteen year old boy. Here. Drink some. I just opened it.
I take a sip from his can and make a face. Warm bitter beer. I can't have this. I'm eleven.
It's liquid. Finish it. I only need fifteen minutes more and we can go.
I drink it all after he disappears again. It's got a strange acidic bite after each long swallow. It tastes like really old coffee. It's terrible. But then it's good. Five minutes later it's empty. Chicago is playing on the radio now and I turn and fire the can in his direction. It misses by a mile. I feel dizzy and weird and kind of crazy.
He looks up slowly, smiling under the curls. Three minutes, Babe.
I don't have three minutes. I have to pee.
See those trees? He points to the fence on the other side of the field.
Go over there and pee.
Yes. No one's around for miles, Bridge. I'm it for the early set-up crew.
It'll take more than three minutes to get there.
It's twenty minutes drive back. Add that in. Also, you're trashed.
Oh yeah. Thanks. You gave me that beer. This is your fault.
Be careful, then. I'll watch you.
I will. I weave all the way across the field and find a tree to hide behind while I pee. It involves taking my shorts and underwear off, because I learned my lesson years ago and have wished to pee standing up ever since. I thought it was something that would work when I got older but it's still impossible to do just pulling everything down. I lean around the tree and Lochlan is facing my direction but I can't see his expression. He's too far away.
I finish, redress and walk back. On the way I see a little hill with a row of tinier pine trees a hundred yards over from the path I originally took. They're only as tall as me so I head over to see if there are any robin's nests in them. I love finding the tiny speckled eggs. Usually I get held up by someone to see them though because I'm small.
I can't see much so I duck between the trees to check out the other side. Except that I can't slip through and instead run right into a mass of crawling feral bees that I didn't see in my rush to explore. I take a step backwards and trip and fall on my back, trying to get away from this huge buzzing cloud. I cry out and a bee flies into my mouth and flies back out so I clamp my eyes and mouth shut and put my hands over my nose so they can't fly into my head. I can feel them landing on my hair and my arms and my feet and then I feel air rushing around me and it's suddenly so much warmer than it was even with the afternoon sun. I open my eyes and Lochlan's waving his lit torches around me. He looks down and says Move, Bridgie and I get up and run. There are bees in my hair, bees in my clothes. Bees everywhere.
I run until I reach the truck and then past it to the dirt road. He's right behind me, torches held back behind us, just in case. He drops them to the dirt, leaving them to burn out and checks me all over, up my shirt, down my shorts. Under my hair. He's swearing. He's scared. I look into his face and the adrenaline and beer make me laugh. I start laughing so hard I don't know if I can stop. He stares at me in amazement.
Not a single sting.
How in the hell, Bridget? You were covered.
They like me! I gesture. It's genetic. (My grandparents had bees on their farm, but organized in hives.We wear gear around them. This is different. Vastly different.)
Thank God for that. I was trying to figure out how I was going to take a drunk eleven-year-old into a hospital, covered with bees.
What a vision.
What a vision indeed. I found your cup, by the way. It was beside me the whole time. Next time I leave you home.
But I can't make memories with you if I'm sitting in the camper.
We have our whole lives to make memories, Peanut and they'll be the best ones you have, bees and all.
They already are, I tell him and he kisses me. Harder than usual. I bet this is how Amanda feels. Who needs a song? I've got a Lochlan.