First Day of Fall

Marie was tired, but willed herself out of bed, her mind on nothing more than making it to the coffee maker. She stopped in the bathroom, sat to pee, and suddenly, she felt an odd wriggling under her foot. Had she been more awake, had she not already made it through summer, she would have been alarmed sooner. But nothing would change the fact that under her foot this morning was a honeybee wriggling madly to escape being crushed. More importantly, nothing would alter the fact that the insect was thrusting its abdomen up and forward as forcefully as it could, thrusting over and over again until its barbed stinger pierced Marie’s flesh, caught and stayed, and, disemboweling itself, the bee died.

Marie’s reaction to the sting was as instinctive as the bee’s reaction to being crushed. She pulled away quickly, fighting to live. The fact that it was a bee sting took a moment to sink in, but once it did, she was a flurry of activity. Hygiene her last concern, Marie flew off the toilet seat and clawed madly at the medicine cabinet door. She felt her throat closing. With a glance at the floor she confirmed her worst fear: a fuzzy, honey-and-black-striped corpse curled fetal. She had to find the Epi-pen.

One hundred and eighty seconds later, she noticed the expiration date—three weeks ago—on the side of the pen as is stuck out of her thigh. She took a deep breath and held it.