My Father, the Bumblebee
Five-year-olds do not understand death. They understand sadness and tears and ask why everyone wears black now when it is summer and everyone is supposed to wear shorts and t-shirts. There is no marked passing of time for five-year-olds, only the blink of eyelashes and light cotton pajamas and endless episodes of their favorite cartoons while everyone else sits in the kitchen. Five-year-olds do not understand funerals and wonder why Uncle Mac is here when he’s only supposed to be here at Christmas. And who are all these other people? And why is everyone so quiet all the time? When five-year-olds hear about cremation they cry because they’re scared that the great big fire that everyone talks about will hurt their father like it hurts their little fingers when they touch the stove. Five-year-olds do not understand heaven and wonder constantly where it is and ask questions over and over again and want to know why their father had to go there and why he can’t stay here.
Five-year-olds will do things that make complete sense to other five-year-olds but adults won’t understand at all. Five-year-olds will find something dead, like a frog or a minnow or a bumblebee and they’ll want to make a funeral for it. The adults will say no, you are not burning this bumblebee, but I will help you bury it. The five-year-old will ask if the bumblebee can still go to heaven if there is no fire and the adults will sigh and say yes. The five-year-old will find a tiny box and a spoon to dig the hole and a harmonica to play some music and the adult will have to stop all the important stuff they are doing to have a bumblebee funeral. And an hour later the five-year-old will dig up the bumblebee to see if it’s gone to heaven and cry harder than they’ve ever cried before to find the bumblebee still there.
Sabrina Stoessinger's fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous journals, both online and in print. Most recently she's been published in Corium, White Rabbit Quarterly, DOGZPLOT, Filling Station and Contemporary Verse 2. Her story "Black Summer" was included in Wigleaf's Top 50 (Very) Short Fictions 2011.