Bitten

by Carly Berg


“The Center for Disease Control doesn’t even know what it is,” Lisa said. “It’s hateful to compare people to bugs, anyway.”

Sisters Lisa and Janet and two others were at Janet’s apartment, preparing for another friend’s surprise baby shower the next day.

“Huh.” Janet stood on a chair, tying balloons to the ceiling fan.

“What do you mean, ‘Huh’? Yes it is hateful!” Lisa choked back the frightened hum in her throat.

“Yes, it is.” Victor said. He was Lisa’s boyfriend and always took her side. “Lisa ain’t no bug, dammit.”

“Huh.” Janet untied the balloons, apparently dissatisfied with them.

Lisa said, “Stop saying ‘Huh’ like that. Shut up!”

“Hey, now.” Janet’s friend, Marsha, counted marbles for a shower game. “Shoot, I lost count.”

I’m sick of Janet-t-t-t-t—

“Don’t buzz,” Victor said. “Let’s walk up to the store and get a Coke. The CDC will figure it out, babe. Don’t worry.”

Marsha said, “Do y’all have to take a break now? There’s so much to do.”

When Lisa got wound up, she buzzed. The buzzing, in turn, wound her up more. “Ain’t my fault Janet keeps her place so nasty. Ain’t my fault Janet’s mad about giving a baby shower, when she can’t even get a man herself.”

“Buzz off to the store, then,” Janet snapped. “And don’t come back.”

“Janet, she can’t help it,” Victor said.

“No, Victor, sorry. She starts that weird buzzing and says any damn thing she wants any time she doesn’t get her own way. I don’t care anymore.”

Lisa, enraged, buzzed, flapped, and rose. She pumped her arms and legs like a swimmer. As if caught in a whirlwind, she flew in slow, tight circles just above their heads.

Finally, she landed. “Stop biting! I’m on your side!” Victor shoved her head away, and she fell to the floor.

“Victor, she can’t help it,” Marsha said in a dum-dum accent.

Janet said, “Marsha! Didn’t you see that? Did you see that?”

Lisa buzzed furiously at the door. Once she got it open, she flew away.

“Victor, did you see that?” Janet said, “Look at that bite on your arm. You’re going to catch it, too. I better call an ambulance.”

“You’ve done enough already,” Victor hummed, and slammed out.

* * *

“After yesterday, they won’t let us in,” Victor said.

They sat under a tree near Janet’s building. “We’ll have to stay away for now, then.” She was relieved, in a way. She could buzz and flap in peace.

“Why did you bite me?”

“I was afraid to go without you. I’m so sorry.”

“I would have gone with you anyway.”

They watched some of their friends go into Janet’s apartment. Later, when the friends came back out, Lisa and Victor didn’t remember them too well.

They hummed as one, nestled in the tree branches under the big white moon.


Copyright © 2013 by Carly Berg

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