The Beekeeper and His Wife
The Beekeeper and His Wife
by El SlinkerInspired by ‘Wayne Andrews the Old Beekeeper’ by Prize Fighter Inferno
Morning had come to shine through Honey Pot’s home. The light had softly entered through the drapes in the windows, giving his old little cottage an ethereal, almost haunting, glow. He checked the windows; no birds fluttering in the dawn light. Something quite unsettling since throughout the years they had been less and less, as if drawn away from the attraction or fear of some other world being.
Ponies, likewise, were nowhere to be seen. Of course, this came with living this far out of the town. A beekeeper wanted to keep his care from stinging unsuspecting fillies that happened to wander too close to the flowers they supported themselves on, lest he have problems with their protective mothers who cared for them more than his very bees defended their queen.
The air was warm and humid. The summer’s dog days didn’t really help with a stallion whose outdoor job had him out in the warm sun for quite a few hours. Still, he knew that it had to be done. He left through the front door without his protective bee suit, he had figured out a while back he didn’t need it anymore. The bees had learnt not to sting their caregiver out of appreciation. Or maybe... Stepping into the warm sunlight, he checked over his box hives, looking over some frames and counting how many honeycombs had been made.
Something was wrong.
What had only just a few months back been a very prosperous honeymaking session now held evidence of degradation. The honeycombs were far less than he had counted beforehand. Now it seemed even the bees were dying out as well, for the number the buzzed around the hives keeping watch were even less. Some hives were even empty, with barely a trace of evidence to show for its once fruitful bounty.
He walked out worried into the flower clearings where the workers pollinated flowers looking for nectar.
Well, it seemed like nothing. The once beautiful clearing that had colored the forest with thousands of flowers now only sported a few hundred. The landscape was now nothing more than a few patches here and there surrounded by greenery. He wondered if this was cause for the decaying state of the bee colonies, and if there were woodland animals that were the cause of the alarming loss of these flowers.
Having to bear witness to this tragedy and wondering what were to happen to his own income this month with the primary source turning a low profit, he returned to his house. Stepping through the door into his living room, a cosy little room with a fireplace on the left wall and a couch and two recliners surrounding a coffee table to the right, he remembered many an evening with his wife sitting on the couch together, talking of each other’s day and news of what disaster the town had gotten into again, huddle up in the winter months with a blanket to share, the fireplace crackling alive with golden flames and orange embers, sipping hot tea to warm up before heading to bed, or just enjoying each other’s company, her with the new romance novel she had picked up from the funny sword obsessed librarian, him with the daily paper on his lap as they cuddled and read.
Sighing at the memory, he walked into the kitchen finding that breakfast had already been set and cleared before he returned back from making his morning rounds. His wife no longer cooked. She couldn’t, given her age. They had hired a caretaker a year’s back to provide the cooking and cleaning. Sweet Pea was her name. A caring and loving young mare who took great pride in her work and helping out his wife with her daily life. She had become worried of his wife, he overheard Sweet Pea saying that at night she been having nightmares and waking up with a cold sweat, sputtering mad tales of a phantom that kept her awake, haunting her and following her through the day. He wanted to know why, yet with all his struggles, he never could find out. Sweet had dismissed it as nothing more than dementia that came with old age.
They were drifting apart. He knew it. He sensed it when he was in her presence. The warm loving smile that she gave had gone away through the years, the time spent when they were young playing outside, full of life and love, was nothing but a memory now. He couldn't stand it. He wanted to return back to the way things were. A young couple with an ambitious desire to buy a home, start a honey farm, and live out their lives raising foals until they moved out, leaving them together to spend out their last days. Sadly, the joyful sounds of foals playing outside was something they never knew. His wife was barren, and since then Honey Pot knew their dreams of having a legacy to leave behind could never come true.
At the least, he knew her love could still be felt there, she always kissed him on the cheek goodnight before bed. A tradition that became ritual from their youthful days as coltfriend and marefriend. Knowing that she kept this through these years, he was assured that there was still love in those warm golden eyes of hers.
He turned back to the kitchen table. Looking over the finished meal, blueberry waffles with honey and a fruit bowl and a glass of juice on the side, He realized he wasn’t as hungry this morning as before. Odd. He decided to pick a ripe orange out the fruit bowl to eat, something to tide his hunger until dinner.
Preparing for bed, Pot was contemplating all the small things he had seemed to have not noticed before, the way his wife had behaved through the day. She no longer held his gaze when their eyes met, she no longer seemed responsive of his many attempts of conversations, no longer acknowledging him, and when she did, shying away as if she no longer knew him. He was alarmed at this.
How long had she behaved so? How far into her dementia was she really? Had she really forgotten him, the one she had dedicated a majority of her life to? Or does she just ignore him, having lost that love she once had? Were they really this far apart now?
Hearing the bedroom door open, Pot saw his wife enter, meeting her eyes, that once shone bright with a golden brown radiance, but now held a barely luminescent amber, with his.
She averted his gaze. He watched her.
Her beautiful smile now a mere ghost of a memory as he witnessed a dull emotionless scowl. The beauty of her face still apparent, but now slightly hidden with a few wrinkles burdened from aging. He now realized that Honeydew looked tired.
She came closer with each hoofstep, she came near him... and laid down in her bed, closing her tired eyes. Completely forgetting what had been tradition.
Pot became panicked, he decided to no longer skirt around the issue, he needed answers now, he wanted to know why it was his wife had grown so distant.
He needed to hear her melodious voice.
Still panicking, he pulled the sheets off her and shook her awake in the same swift motion.
He watched her open her eyes, now the size of pinpricks, clearly startled from his sudden aggression, and screamed. Trying to calm her down, he tried speaking up. Instead, this frightened her further, swatting at him with her forehooves.
The door burst open behind them, Sweet Pea having been awoken from the commotion and rushing to Honeydew's side. Pot watched as he became aware of his actions. He had done something he could never dream of doing. He had made his wife scream.
Pea tried to calm down Honeydew, who was now screaming about phantoms, something that sent chills down Pot’s spine. She really was out of it...
But then something occurred that would forever haunt Pot. Something that would haunt him more than his actions tonight. In trying to calm down his wife, Sweet Pea assured her that there was no one else in that room but her.
No one else.
His heart broke.
He was the phantom.
He was haunting her.
He was the monster.
Pot watched on as Sweet Pea eventually subdued and left Honeydew sleeping calmly. He stood by her side as her chest rose and fell in slow rhythmic breathing. She looked peaceful, without a look of anguish in her face, even the first smile he had seen in months, as she slept. She only now seemed happy in her dreams. He guessed it was not as different as what he was doing... feeling happy in dreams.
Pot leaned in and kissed her lightly on the cheek, wiping a wayward tear from her face.
He walked towards the small desk in their... her bedroom. Opening a drawer, he spotted his old diary. He had made it a habit of writing a page a day before bed. Flipping to the last written page, he discovered that the last entry was dated seven months ago.
Ripping out a page, he began writing a letter.
My precious Honeydew,
I’m no longer welcome here. This I have realized...
...I have to go... I can no longer haunt you anymore. But please...
I’ll wait for you,
Pot checked his pocket, the orange he had picked up from the fruit bowl that morning. Placing it along with the letter on the desk, he left the room.
Wandering outside, he took one look back at the house and then faded away as a memory in the cold night air.
The next morning, Honeydew awoke to find a rotted orange and a torn piece of paper on her desk, the words ‘I’ll wait for you’ written on it.