Issue #59

Summer 2016

Three Stories

by Tamara K. Walker

The Bee-List Celebrity Culture

We were idly standing in the kitchen one summer afternoon when a bee entered through the closed screen door, flying low and erratically as if injured. We suddenly realized it to be the body of an infamous minor celebrity who had fallen from grace in a terrible scandal nearly twenty years prior. Anticipating fame and fortune, we scrambled to capture it with an old CD spindle, and in the scuffle it was knocked to the floor, where the dog promptly ate it. Initially, we were despondent -- and considered harshly punishing the dog -- until it occurred to us that, though it was absolutely certain to be the shamed celebrity, we would've had no way to concretely prove that this particular bee was in fact him, as it was clear to us from its limp flight path that he had made his final transformation. We shrugged and passed the evening making lasagna, recalling details of his criminal trial with great nostalgia and reflecting that tomorrow, for once, the tabloids would be reporting the truth.

***

Emu on First

The emu baseball game had become the most popular thing to do in the city. From Tuesday through Saturday, people noisily filled the dilapidated concrete stadium in the evenings to spectate and speculate, not necessarily in that order. Some even pretended to understand the emu. The emu teams always wore cool colors, insisted on having at least 14 innings, strongly preferred only obscure local news coverage, and for the most part didn’t pretend to be understood.

The emu abruptly went on strike, demanding higher pay, a sizable share of the concessions and refreshments, and for the crowd to be much less noisy with their boisterous cheering. They took out full-page color ads in the newspaper with the words “STRIKE, YOU’RE OUT!” in big block lettering next to a photo of the glaring eyes and bright beaks of their presumed managers. Instead of making any effort at all to accommodate these brazen demands, the audience simply ebbed away until the bleachers returned to their gray-washed emptiness.

The games resumed, but the emu began to feel self-conscious playing for an absent fanbase, simultaneously in the roles of player and spectator, the void in the stands echoing uncomfortably through their feathers. So, finally, they paid a company to fly planes carrying banners with cryptic messages over the field. Trying in vain to decipher these inscrutable trailing missives soon became best new thing to do in the city, leaving the contented emu to play their game in peace to a full but quieter stadium, watched and yet completely unnoticed.

***

Sunflowers

When the woman brought them in from the wilting heat, the sunflowers sang their approval. The house was strangely quiet, and it cast a long shadow over the small garden, that, nonetheless, never seemed to cool. The woman assured them that the kitchen was both cooler and sunnier. The sunflowers took her word for it, but at least half of her promise turned out not to be true.

They need not have worried, however. What the sunflowers couldn’t possibly have imagined that day was just how well they would all adapt to life alone in the house, after the woman stood in that shady spot and stayed there, her feet eventually growing into stringy absorbent roots, seeds falling from her face. They took so well to the life the house provided that they did dishes and they sang and they read and they slept in beds and they fought and they loved and they departed for unspecified destinations, until finally there was only one left. It admired the woman from the window. One particularly hot summer day, it gently lifted her from the garden, placed her in the kitchen with a peat pot full of promises, returned home to the shade, exhaled into the wind, and planted its newly-grown legs firmly into the soil.

Author Bio

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Tamara K. Walker lives and writes in Colorado. Her writing has been published or is forthcoming in A cappella Zoo, The Conium Review, Melusine, Identity Theory, Peculiar Mormyrid, Apocrypha and Abstractions, Gay Flash Fiction, several print anthologies published by Kind of a Hurricane Press, and various poetry zines and journals. Her flash fiction piece, "The Receptionist", appeared in Issue #52 of The Cafe Irreal.