The Beekeeper's Daughter
fiction by Margot Nelson
The Beekeeper's Daughter
The beekeeper’s daughter drove a used red Toyota Prius. It lay in a pile now, heaped like crumpled wrapping paper against the barrier between the road and the forest .
The sky was turning peach-pink, the clouds frosty in the November air as the sun set. Pines scratched at the watercolors above, looming over the smoking metal carcass. On impact, birds had erupted from the treetops in a panic of feathers and hollow bones, witnesses escaping the scene before questioning.
The crow returned now.
The deer that had staggered into the road was long gone, leaving only displaced, low-hanging branches and rubber skid marks on the cement in its wake. The wolf that had been tracking it would catch up in the early hours of the following morning, but for now the buck was safe.
The driver’s seat was empty, the door swung open and hanging limp from its hinges.
No headlights lit the darkening curves in the road, no familiar purr of a motor could be heard. The crow tucked his wings by his side, cradling his ribs as he observed the scene from above. The beekeeper’s daughter was walking slowly, but she was walking. The crow could see the weight of each step, the heaviness of every footfall as it hit the blacktop. She paused and look at her phone, frantically tapping at the dimming screen. The crow cocked his head.
A cell tower blinked red in the distance, tantalizingly close. Not close enough.
The beekeeper’s daughter wiped her face on her sleeve and began walking again.
The crow spread his wings and drifted from his branch down to the side of the car. He knew a cadaver when he saw one, and began his deliberate search for anything he could salvage. A suitcase lay intact across the backseat, covered only in shards of glass. The crow’s stone-hard beak stabbed at the plastic to no avail. The fiberglass shell of the suitcase did its job, and he could not get in. He moved on.
The front doors had been squeezed open by the force of the collision. The metallic smell of blood intoxicated the bird as he made his way through the crumpled metal skeleton. Dark pools stained the driver’s seat, drip drip dripping from the steering wheel. A deflated air bag exhaled wearily across the dashboard. In the passenger seat sat a purse.
The crow buried his head in the supple folds of the leather, breathing in the smell of beast and tanner. There was something else there, too. An aching sweetness, richer and heavier than the summer berries that flourished in the brambles by the road. The crow shook the bag, freeing the remaining contents. Used tissues and chewed-on pens, a pair of sunglasses snapped in half. A small glass bottle, a single crack stretching from top to bottom.
Honey oozed from the seam in the glass, dribbling slowly, antagonizing the crow as he waited. The viscous liquid took its time, slipping through the crack in droplets until a steady stream dripped on the gray fabric seat. A small pool formed.
The crow ruffled his wings and tucked his head, pulling out dust and grime from the silky black feathers on his chest. Then, he took a step forward and began to drink, taking long, luxurious pulls from the broken honey jar.
In the distance, a phone rang.