Strangers and the Bee

Strangers and the Bee

A Story by Paris Kim
"

i began this story on a surprising sunny afternoon in September. it's an ode to women making the smallest impacts.

"

It did not feel like September that bright afternoon. Luke sat still on the iron black bench, contemplating on every fresh breath of air he inhaled. This was San Franciscan air: pure, cool, with the occasional diesel clouding in from the passing Muni 5-line or the brush of cypress scent overhead. It was a perfect spot to be doing one’s reading at 2 in the afternoon, a hidden stone-paved garden leveled adjacent to Fulton Street behind the University of San Francisco. Crimson reds, flushed pinks, and bold yellows that grew from the green shrubbery around Luke Pearson distracted him from the little time he had for leisurely reading.

            He turned his scraggly face back down towards the pages, but the detesting sound of a buzz grew as it came closer to the poppies that swayed in the gentle wind behind Luke’s head. “S**t,” he mumbled to himself, as the beastly honey-bee swaggered for a quick second in front of Luke’s nose and down to his chest. Suddenly it went away, but to Luke frightful impressions lingered from the formidable allergic reactions he had suffered not too long ago. The emergency room at age fourteen seemed not too far behind in contrast to being youthfully twenty-two years old.

            But his savior of a distraction was approaching"someone whose red pumps heels stabbed at intervals quick beats onto the stone pavement and had neutrally tanned legs"that was all Luke could make out of this figure with his head bowed to his novel, a figure who sat down abruptly and swung their heavy Andy Warhol- print burlap shoulder bag beside Luke on the bench.

            “The only place they won’t catch us, I’m sure,” the woman’s voice sighed. As he lifted his head Luke concluded that he had never seen this girl around campus in all his three years. Her face was concealed over bulging Ray ban sunglasses and her dark hair was loosely braided back with soft bangs cascading over the brows. As with her pumps, her quarter- sleeved soft blue cardigan took away the attention from her plaid cotton gray dress. Luke wondered at, but in a sense admired, her context of the use “we” rather than “I” or just her; Luke did not smoke whereas the young woman pulled out from a crumpled green carton the last cigarette.

            “I won’t mind,” Luke scoffed and laughed, looking back down.

            “Oh! Yeah, sorry,” the girl replied and commenced to light the cigarette. “Ramona,” she said, indifferent in her tone.

            “Luke,” her companion briefly said through a smile and looked back down.

            “Hey, Luke, got an iPod?” Ramona then quickly asked.

            “Well, an iPhone,” he crossly answered.
            The awkward girl struck out her hand. “Let’s have a listen to something on it then,” she insisted, “together.” They did so, as amused but suspicious Luke was for the situation. She went through his playlist and decided on some tracks by the Kills. They sat listening in a bizarre silence, until Ramona began with, “You watch the CW?”
            “Huh?” Luke said. “The network with those shows like ‘Gossip Girl’? No.”

            “Well, at least you know what I’m talking about. All that racy s**t and high-class hoe stories mean nothing. Why do people ask for stupid drama? Weird isn’t it?”

            Luke laughed slightly and replied, “Well, it’s weird how we’re discussing ‘Gossip Girl.’”

            “I know, I’m random, but I’ve got a point! You see, (Ramona unknowingly scooted over, closely brushing up against Luke’s jeans) why do people always get stuck watching drama? I have friends addicted to that show or others like it, but why give it my time of day? And the people in those shows can never escape drama but they always put it on themselves. I’m an existentialist, and my pop culture and media studies course was just discussing this situation. You see, (exhaling smoke) if given the choice, be alone. Cause no one no trouble, and do all the things that you want in life. Why watch other people’s unnecessary stupid drama while missing out on your own chance to embark on your own adventures?”

            Luke, listening attentively, shrugged his shoulders and wiped his perspiring brow with the back of his hand. “Well, people watch fiction to escape their realities,” he began to say, but Ramona couldn’t wait a second for his reasoning.

            “Why escape to those kinds of places, though?” she questioned, wiping at her sunglasses’ lends. “If only people could just reflect on how great they can be with their life’s own twists and turns, Luke.”
            He had nothing to say. He smiled. It was the most perplexed ten minutes he had ever been through, but something in Ramona’s manners and conclusions on life, let alone how her voice rolled softly on his name when she spoke “Luke,” had bewitched him.

            “Hey, over there! That’s hella cool!” Ramona quickly beamed, pointing to their soft reflections in the huge bay window of the yellow dull Victorian apartment just across Fulton Street from the garden. “A perfect mirror of two strangers.”

            “They could be friends,” Luke playfully suggested.

            Smiling, Ramona nodded and mused, “I don’t mind.” Lost to looking at their reflections cast in the clear window, the honey bee’s return went unnoticed until it landed on Luke’s sleeve and lingered for less than a second.

            “Oh my god!” Luke exclaimed and froze with dread. Ramona was laughing.

            “Ha! It’s a freakin’ bee,” she humored. But her companion’s face was flushed with fear. “My god, you serious, man?”

            Shaking his head, he started explaining his outbreaks and uncontrollable allergic reactions if fatally stung. As for Ramona, when he had finished, she sighed, and suddenly grasped his hand.

            “Hope that makes it better,” she mused, gently cradling his palm in hers. Luke could feel her naturally-silken skin and bony fingers smooth over his own. He observed this sudden move, noting the brass owl-head embossed ring she wore on her middle finger and the ruby band on her pinky. It was a very smoothing touch, unexpected but highly welcomed. His hand’s muscles softened out when her smaller graceful fingers pressed more firmly; it was such a cure for someone who had felt so vulnerable and frantic as he was"now those fears were quickly withdrawing.

            The girl was looking off into space, towards Fulton Street and to downtown in the far distance. Her hand stayed comfortably in place with Luke’s, but she remained silent. Her new acquaintance was admiring her without her notice, trying to look into her face and imaging what beautiful colors possibly lied in the eyes shrouded behind sunglasses. The wind picked up, and Ramona’s bangs flew backwards onto her scalp showing a smooth, clear forehead free of wrinkles or blemishes. To Luke, she was ideal, perfect. The fact that she had almost forgotten his presence intrigued him more. But he felt anxiety come into him as her own hand squirmed away from his.

            “I’m sorry to cut time short, friend,” Ramona grinned. I got a class though in twenty minutes. College of Professional Studies building.”

            “Oh yeah,” Luke replied. “It’s quite a walk, isn’t it?” He attempted to laugh to conceal the sorrow he began to feel at this loss.

            “Duh, it’s bullshit!” she said with a nod. Hoisting her Andy Warhol bag onto her shoulder, and swiping dirt smudges off her red pumps, she flicked her cigarette away and turned. “Curse the b******s who put the class there!”
            “I-I’ll see you around I guess?” Luke hurried to ask. “Ramona?”
            Although walking away, she turned around and stared at him. She wasn’t smiling, but her brows were raised in amusement. “I guess,” was her answer. She took one last look out towards downtown, and said, “Ha, don’t let no bees get you down, my friend Luke!” Walking off at last, she waved her hand cordially at Luke Pearson.

            He never saw her again. Though they had mutually declared each other’s presence as a friend, they were merely nothing more than strangers, indeed.

© 2011 Paris Kim


Author's Note

Paris Kim
if there seems to be "s awkwardly placed at some points, that's really -- for some reason when i upload stories they're converted to quotations.

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Featured Review

I think this is very interesting. It captures a moment, a chance meeting of two people, both of whom probably have different things going on in their heads in relation to the meeting, and both of whom probably walk away having taken something very different from it. Although they are both in different places, they are able to reach out and connect with each other. There's a nice sense of underlying tension running through this story, of questions raised, a sense of each party wondering what the other person is thinking, wondering if this meeting may come to something, or whether it should come to something, and ending with the big question of, what did this exchange mean to them, as individuals? What will they take from it? It is a good representation of human interactions in general, particularly those with strangers, and the psychological game-playing that goes along with it. It raises questions about, and discusses, how even simple interactions can affect the lives of others, how we are all interconnected stitches in a tapestry. I think there are also issues of fate being discussed here... are some things fated to happen, or do we control these things with our own decisions? The reader does not anticipate here that the characters will walk away without further developing on this meeting, it's an abrupt ending, and I think the message of that is, we choose. Not every chance meeting has be something, not every seed has to be planted and grown, perhaps it is enough for that moment to have existed.

I like the strong and slightly sardonic personality of the female character, it gives the story drive and focus and personality. The male character is a little more flat, but my feeling is that that is on purpose, he is a blank canvas, an empty vessel, and it makes for an interesting, somewhat one-sided interaction with the stronger and more assertive female character. I think this is also a good commentary on modern gender politics, where women I think do tend to have more confidence and shape the world more, while many men simply feel lost and vulnerable, feeling, amongst other things, that they do not have control over their interactions with women. I think it also represents how women, especially strong modern women, are often manipulative of men, seeking attention and validation from them, but also wishing to dismiss them at will. I think Ramona in your story is at least partially aware of her potential impact, but also, in a slightly air-headed way, she is too self-absorbed to consider the effects of her actions on others. I think this story is an accurate, if somewhat unflattering, portrayal of modern gender relationships.

I think this can also be read as a commentary on modern "friendship". Your concluding three lines are a perfect summary. In this society of social networking, and isolation from reality, we are quick to declare someone a "friend", someone we have known perhaps for moments, someone we don't know very well, and may never see again. I think this betrays a yearning for more, and better quality, human contact. We all wish that these moments were true. Going further, we may have friends who are established friends whom we have known for a long time, and yet it may transpire that we do not fully know them either, that they are, in fact, a stranger to us. It's a good comment also on how we may genuinely intend to pursue a friendship, but sometimes, life just doesn't work out like that, and we are left wondering what me missed, and why. Lots of different things going on here!!

Finally, I read this story as a metaphor for a meeting with God. I think Luke, whom you portray (by implication, if not explicitly) as being slightly lost, somewhat afraid, is actually receiving a sort of a spiritual pep-talk here from God... in some ways, I think Ramona is not there at all, but rather, she is a personification of the sunshine and the flowers which you so eloquently describe. He is being told how to appreciate his life, not question it, and as I say, I interpret this as a sort of internal conversation between Luke and God, or perhaps, between Luke and his own subconscious.

It's a really clever write with lots of meat in it, good job! Just avoid slowing the pace of the story with unnecessary detail. Some of the descriptives are relevant, but otherwise, anything you can get rid of without losing the content of the story, get rid of it :-)

Posted 13 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

I think this is very interesting. It captures a moment, a chance meeting of two people, both of whom probably have different things going on in their heads in relation to the meeting, and both of whom probably walk away having taken something very different from it. Although they are both in different places, they are able to reach out and connect with each other. There's a nice sense of underlying tension running through this story, of questions raised, a sense of each party wondering what the other person is thinking, wondering if this meeting may come to something, or whether it should come to something, and ending with the big question of, what did this exchange mean to them, as individuals? What will they take from it? It is a good representation of human interactions in general, particularly those with strangers, and the psychological game-playing that goes along with it. It raises questions about, and discusses, how even simple interactions can affect the lives of others, how we are all interconnected stitches in a tapestry. I think there are also issues of fate being discussed here... are some things fated to happen, or do we control these things with our own decisions? The reader does not anticipate here that the characters will walk away without further developing on this meeting, it's an abrupt ending, and I think the message of that is, we choose. Not every chance meeting has be something, not every seed has to be planted and grown, perhaps it is enough for that moment to have existed.

I like the strong and slightly sardonic personality of the female character, it gives the story drive and focus and personality. The male character is a little more flat, but my feeling is that that is on purpose, he is a blank canvas, an empty vessel, and it makes for an interesting, somewhat one-sided interaction with the stronger and more assertive female character. I think this is also a good commentary on modern gender politics, where women I think do tend to have more confidence and shape the world more, while many men simply feel lost and vulnerable, feeling, amongst other things, that they do not have control over their interactions with women. I think it also represents how women, especially strong modern women, are often manipulative of men, seeking attention and validation from them, but also wishing to dismiss them at will. I think Ramona in your story is at least partially aware of her potential impact, but also, in a slightly air-headed way, she is too self-absorbed to consider the effects of her actions on others. I think this story is an accurate, if somewhat unflattering, portrayal of modern gender relationships.

I think this can also be read as a commentary on modern "friendship". Your concluding three lines are a perfect summary. In this society of social networking, and isolation from reality, we are quick to declare someone a "friend", someone we have known perhaps for moments, someone we don't know very well, and may never see again. I think this betrays a yearning for more, and better quality, human contact. We all wish that these moments were true. Going further, we may have friends who are established friends whom we have known for a long time, and yet it may transpire that we do not fully know them either, that they are, in fact, a stranger to us. It's a good comment also on how we may genuinely intend to pursue a friendship, but sometimes, life just doesn't work out like that, and we are left wondering what me missed, and why. Lots of different things going on here!!

Finally, I read this story as a metaphor for a meeting with God. I think Luke, whom you portray (by implication, if not explicitly) as being slightly lost, somewhat afraid, is actually receiving a sort of a spiritual pep-talk here from God... in some ways, I think Ramona is not there at all, but rather, she is a personification of the sunshine and the flowers which you so eloquently describe. He is being told how to appreciate his life, not question it, and as I say, I interpret this as a sort of internal conversation between Luke and God, or perhaps, between Luke and his own subconscious.

It's a really clever write with lots of meat in it, good job! Just avoid slowing the pace of the story with unnecessary detail. Some of the descriptives are relevant, but otherwise, anything you can get rid of without losing the content of the story, get rid of it :-)

Posted 13 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Love ramonas role as well. I like this piece:]

Posted 13 Years Ago


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Tim
My favorite part of this story is how you successfully made San Francisco a 3rd character. I feel like you could have thrown in even more references to the city and placed me in it, without making it the least bit distracting to the flow. I feel like you got Luke down pretty well, and he uncomfortably mirrors some behaviors I've seen in myself-- this is always nice to identify with characters, even if they are similarities that people would rather ignore. Ramona was hot. Lol. I like female characters that hold the pants, and she definitely does, as she defies most lady roles and kind of opts for a more "indie" persona. Nice job.

Posted 13 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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3 Reviews
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Added on March 1, 2011
Last Updated on March 11, 2011
Tags: women, San Francisco, college, indie rock, young adults, city life

Author

Paris Kim
Paris Kim

San Francisco, CA



About
an optimistic college student who takes her life growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area and turns it into truthful fiction. always finding a way to smile and laugh and make the most of anything thro.. more..

Writing
Madama Madama

A Story by Paris Kim


Chapter 1 Chapter 1

A Chapter by Paris Kim