The unnamed narrator has an online girlfriend, Anastasia, who is writing an essay about the population depletion of bees. When the narrator looks out her (?) bedroom window, she sees fuzzy insects landing on the lilacs.
Homeschooled, she later asks her parents why the bees on their property seem to be thriving. This question makes her computer-programmer parents nervous and provokes warnings to stay away from the bees. She could be stung—or—or what if she’s allergic?
This, in turn, provokes a question to Anastasia: How do you know when a thing’s real?
Apparently of a practical bent, Anastasia replies: You investigate, silly. Her practicality doesn’t prevent her from adding a string of throbbing heart emoji.
I’ve called the narrator “she,” but there really is no indication of her gender. Another reader might see a male here, I suppose. It would be perhaps the first logical conclusion after seeing the narrator has a girlfriend. I just read her as female, but I obviously don’t know the intent of the author.
The ending is visible from a mile away. Just the same, watching the narrator test the limits of her world is engaging. Author Avra Margariti works in lightness via the eye-rolling teenager fed up with her hand-wringing parents to make the reader smile and to mask something perhaps more sinister.
While not among my favorites, this short, enchanting read has charms. I enjoyed it.
According to her blurb, author Avra Margariti is a queer Social Work undergrad living in Athens, Greece. She enjoys storytelling in all its forms. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Flash Fiction Online, The Forge Literary, SmokeLong Quarterly, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and Argot Magazine, among others. Margariti won the 2019 Bacopa Literary Review prize for fiction. Her Twitter handle is @avramargariti.
The story can be read here.
Title: “The Death of Bees”
Author: Avra Margariti
First published: Daily Science Fiction, January 27, 2020