McHennessey had lifted six year-old Lacey McKenna from beneath the palo verde himself, but even as he placed her in her mother’s arms he wasn’t sure he could explain what he had seen, so he didn’t try. He just said, “Safe and sound, Ma’am.”
She was inexplicably safe and sound after three nights up in the bluffs, including one rare Storm’s Pass snow night. There were bears, coyotes and maybe even a mountain lion. There had been that one mountain lion last Fourth of July, the cat that walked down Repplier St. like a housecat on an mundane mission, until it was redirected by a well-aimed lawn chair. Those Jones kids had good arms.
The little girl had run away, at first in a tantrum, but stubborn as she was, in the end she had something to prove. So she had hefted her backpack with two snack bags of Cheese-Its and a bottle of water all the whole rising length of San Gorgonio Ave. Her mistake was to get off the road. She wasn’t long into the bluffs before she knew she was lost forever, or at least until Mac could find her.
The beekeeper had stood with him as the sun rose higher, pushing to ten o’clock. The bees were just warming, wings vibrating faster in the expanding light. Then they lifted one by one until it was too loud to hear the beekeeper exhale in awe. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said. “It must be every hive I have.”
The palo verde had been blanketed with thousands of bees. Mac had paused to try to understand the bee tree and had heard the girl stirring beneath. Mac had pulled her close to his chest expecting her to be chilled, but she was warm and so relieved that she kissed him. Her cheeks were sticky and when she began to cry for her mother, Mac tasted salt and honey where her lips had touched his.
“How?” her mother asked now, but still Mac just shook his head. He didn’t know how exactly and all he could wonder was who this little girl was going to be.
Writing Exercise following: Tuesday Trigger – Save By Animals