The boy visits him in his dreams. They walk hand in hand through the orchard. A breeze stirs the leaves on the trees. White and pink petals fall to the ground around them. The boy looks up at him and smiles. He’s missing his two front teeth. It’s difficult not to recognize the similarities—the indentation at the tip of the ear, the dimpled chin. The boy breaks free and runs down the path. A swarm of bees appears. He calls out to the boy but realizes he does not know his name.
He spends the frigid days alone in the orchard, pruning away errant shoots. His wife stays indoors—she still will not speak to him. At night they burn the branches in the stone fireplace to ward off the chill that has built a wall between them. His wife sweeps dead bees from the windowsills, while he waits for the boy to find him.
He wakes to the bees buzzing inside the cottage walls, the hive growing, filling every crevice that remains. He closes his eyes and places a hand against the empty space where the boy once lived. They walk hand in hand through the orchard. A breeze stirs the leaves on the trees. White and pink petals fall to the ground around them. The boy looks up at him and smiles. He is missing his two front teeth.
Kristin Tenor finds inspiration in life’s quiet details and believes in their power to illuminate the extraordinary. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in both print and online journals, including The Midwest Review, Spelk Fiction, Bending Genres, Milk Candy Review, Spry Literary Journal, Anti-Heroin Chic, River Teeth-Beautiful Things, among others. She also volunteers as a reader at CRAFT Literary. Learn more at www.kristintenor.com or follow her on Twitter @KristinTenor.