WE ARE Narcissus

I have tried to write my story many times and have never been able to get far. I always go over my words again and again, editing and polishing and getting caught in the obsessive intricateness of arranging lyrical phrases. I am hoping that writing this online and posting as I go will keep me pressing forward.

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19. Honeybee Porn

Courtney Sprigg

Psychology of Human Sexuality

4 April 2013

Short Story

    The virgin queen. She is my obsession. She draws me with the deadly allure of a candle flame, she calls to be, fills me with a longing that tears me apart inside.

 

    I am distracted by my indecision. I do not know what the right thing is to do. Am I a fool for wanting her like this? I can almost make myself believe that I could approach her, could hover in her celestial ambiance without being consumed by the need to seek completion. I am Icarus, believing I can fly just one more inch closer to the sun without being burned. But I haven’t do it yet. That’s how I am still here, to be thinking these thoughts, to be so shattered, because I’ve seen so many others succumb. What should I chose? Will I be gloriously obliterated by her love or die a slow death? Do I want to grow old and feeble, to have many more days to fill with this wondering, forever wondering? Or will I make the irrevocable decision to find out for myself? There is no turning back, I cannot go half way and get close enough to the decision to really make it an informed choice, because I instant I realize the fullest extent of my existence, my life will be forfeit. So maybe I’ll stay here, waste away. Maybe I’ll be expelled from the fold, to shiver and starve and shrivel away to nothing but a dry husk. Because I am useless, essentially. My only output function and the only impact I can have on the lives of others is my death.

 

    I am obsessed also with hours. Hours stretching on beyond conception or calculation. I cannot see any end to them. They are a tunnel so dark and deep that its center occupies a different hemisphere, a new dimension of reality. As the days grow longer I wonder how many more hours I will be able to withstand, marching by. My need is opaque, a smoke so thick and choking I’m not sure how I’ve survived even this much time breathing its acrid pollution.

 

    Do I dare to throw myself on her love? Do I choose to live fully, knowing I will die? What are hours, but an endless torture, giving me what seems an eternity of opportunities to second guess myself.

 

    I think what bothers me most of all is the question of whether or not it matters. Does it make a difference to anyone, to any part of the world outside myself how I choose to die? When death comes for me, as it inevitably must, will I cease to exist? I think that I, myself, as I experience me, am nothing more than my collection of thoughts and perceptions. I am so easy to dissolve. Was there a discrete, quantifiable moment in which I began to exist, or was I always around in some form or another? There must have been a spark, an instant when my faculty to create and store memories engaged. Is that who I am? Do I begin and end with the limited span of my memories? Do I lose a part of myself, every time something I’ve seen or done or tasted slips away, when I forget? Is what I think of the people I see, my experience of them and the part they play in my life, real, or is it only my assumptions and petty judgements and insecurities flavoring who I believe they are to me? Is my essence really nothing more than that one cell of mine that came from my mother’s body, the blueprint for which she carried before she was even born?

 

    The first time I joined a congregation, it was at the prompting of my brother. I was  resting in the largest chamber of our home, watching my sisters mill about - I suppose they must have been doing something important, as they always were. Their small neat frames and short legs seemed to be designed to produce a constant current of energy; they fairly hummed and crackled with it electrically. One of them was patching a hole in the wall, to the left of my head, using her mouth as a tool to apply and reshape a translucent yellow paste. If not for my brother, I think I would have felt terribly inadequate in my family; my sisters were extremely productive always, but I always had such a big, clumsy body, anything I tried to do ended in more harm than good.

 

    My brother endeavored to capture my attention by kicking me; not very polite, but extremely effective. Like me, he had the gangly hind limbs and puffed up feet of a jack rabbit. These were coated by a thick, soft down of brown fur. It continually strikes me as odd that the girls can be so naked - they aren’t bald, not completely, but all of their body hair is lighter and shorter - whereas boys are hairy. I suppose it’s just one of those natural differences.

 

    I turned and regarded my brother with faint irritation at having been kicked, but my annoyance evaporated as soon as I saw the look in his enormous, luminous chocolate brown eyes. Their glassy surface was alive with excitement, transforming his entire face into a triumphant dance. My brother had the most beautiful, powerful eyes. They were brown, but not flat brown; rather, they were incalculable millions of shades constantly seeming to shift and transition with every change of the light and every new idea that sprang from his nimbly creative mind. “Brother,” he sang to me, “I’ve found the most amazing thing. You must come with me this afternoon.” He would tell me no more than this, but promised me that if I followed him, he would show me something the likes of which I’d never imagined.

 

    I agreed with only the barest tingle of misgiving, because I worshipped my brother. My faith in him could have drowned oceans.

 

    He lead me out of our home by a distance of approximately one hundred meters. It was hard to determine exactly when we’d reached our destination, because I kept looking for something big or extraordinary, worthy of note. All I saw were trees, those deciduous decked out brilliantly in their autumn finery, and those evergreen standing as timeless and immutable as ever, their branches sighing in the wind like fearsome beasts shaking their fists in warning. My brother wove his way through these boughs, locked onto his course as single minded as a bloodhound running down a fox, prompting me every few moments when I fell prey to the prickling of doubt by singing out, “This way! Come on, it’s just a little further. You won’t be able to believe this.” Finally, he pulled to a stop abruptly, announcing solemnly, “We’re here.”

 

    Here didn’t at first appear to be much of anywhere. To say I was disappointed implies that I had some sort of at least half baked expectation, but I didn’t, really. I had never been more than a half hour away from my home in my entire life. That thirty minutes includes travel time both to and from any destination I chose to pursue, so my knowledge of the world outside my familiar walls was extremely limited. I had no thought ever of expanding my horizons; to put it simply, the world wasn’t a safe place. I didn’t think of myself as fainthearted or cowardly, but I was realistic, practical. Also, at some level of my psyche I think I found the idea of radical change deeply disturbing. I wanted to be able to think about far off places and amazing sights, I wanted theoretical experiences and vicarious adventures, but I always had that clock counting down the time I’d been away from home in the back of my mind, and I wanted to be assured that wherever we went and whatever we did it could fit neatly into that time limit. It was no use having adventures if I couldn’t duck safely back through my own doorway and reminisce on them with a full stomach and my family gathered around me.

 

    That being said, far more important to me than any awe striking vision I could have encountered was my self appointed role as supporter for my brother. Whatever it was he wanted to present to me had him bursting out of his skin. At his fervent pronouncement, I prepared myself to supply him with a satisfying reaction of wonder and appreciation, as soon as I could figure out what I was supposed to be reacting to. 

 

    We were poised at the edge of a clearing, some twenty-five meters in diameter. It appeared to be a perfect circle, hedged by trees, and was flat and dry. In spring it might have boasted patches of wild flowers or at least grass, but right now it was barren. At some point or another, this must have been a sight for logging, because one or two felled trees slanted across the ground, languidly decaying into the dark rich soil. Beyond a few rocks, that was all. “I don’t - ”

 

    “Shhh!” my brother cut me off, his eyes growing larger, emitting a reverent glow. “Just watch, you’ll see.” I acquiesced doubtfully. No matter what, my idolization of my brother could withstand any disillusionment; however, what I feared most was that, in the aftermath of our excursion, he would be left feeling embarrassed.

 

    It was afternoon, but the sky was a pearly grey. A light wind caressed the leaves of the trees around the circumference of the clearing, but the natural fencing of foliage served as a windshield and kept off the worst of the cold drafts. Slowly, as I watched, people began to emerge from the woods. There were thousands of them, of all shapes and sizes within the spectrum of plausibility for our kind. Some of them I recognized as brothers of ours with whom I was less closely bonded, but the vast majority were strangers. They swept about the clearing, passive, listless, waiting. There was a hush over every one of us, as though the world was taking a collective breath before unleashing an ear splitting scream, which I didn’t dare break by asking questions.

 

    That’s when I smelled it for the first time. The sweetness. No matter how I turned my head, I could not escape it. It assaulted me, soaking through every pore of my body all at once and saturating my very core. It wasn’t cloying, like too much honey swallowed all at once, but it was ambrosia: perfect. It was enlightenment, it was heaven, it was everything I’d ever wanted or imagined wanting in my short life, all encapsulated into one sensory experience. It did things to my body, the feasibility of which I had previously been ignorant. It turned me inside out and I think it could have driven me mad, except that, in inhaling this fragrance I achieved a fresh height of consciousness. I was transported past my angst and my nihilism, I was exalted above the embarrassment I felt about my big, clumsy body, the ambiguity of my feelings about my sisters and their obvious superiority, everything material about me evaporated and condensed into an overpowering certainty that this was why I existed. The first whiff of that smell I took wiped out my ability to see, struck me blind in a glorious surge of burning heat as if I’d attempted to swallow a star. Yet at the same time, smelling it I saw the clearing in a new light. I realized that this was the most sacred of places. I knew that there was Something Beyond, something greater than myself, and I longed to throw myself before its altar, to offer my self humbly as a slave. My unworthiness ceased to hold any significance, because I became convinced that if I could not live for this, if what I had to sacrifice was rejected as inadequate, then I did not want to live at all. In fact, it was not truly a question of whether I wanted to live or not; I had no part in the decision and never considered any alternative to slavering gratitude for this force that had shattered me and rebuilt me according to its own design. I felt all of this in one excruciating flash, in the time it took to blink, and I’m not sure but I think my hair stood on end and every particle of moisture in my molecular structure fizzled away.

 

    “I told you.” My brother’s voice brought me back to reality, to a slight extent, anyway. He spoke in a tone I’d never heard from him before, so blurry with intoxication that it seemed to drift toward my ears from behind the veil of a dream. I didn’t need to look at him to be certain that everything being acted out inside of me was happening to him too, and I felt a suffocating, unaccountable jealousy - my parched, enflamed throat opened and closed painfully in something almost like a sob - that he and these others in the clearing had seized the privilege of smelling this unearthly perfume while I was still dwelling in ignorance. For all the love and appreciation I’d ever felt toward me brother for supplying me with a base of comparison to shield me from my sisters, despite the fact that he’d always been my idol, I could have gleefully strangled him in that moment. And felt incontestably justified in doing so, all because of the accident that he’d come face to face with eternity before I did, which kindled my insides into a knot of fury.

 

    Across the clearing, every person’s large eyes seemed to swell as they turned toward the source of this tantalizing olfactory elixir. I followed suit in a breathless fever of anticipation, and so I beheld for the first time the virgin queen.

 

    Even now, knowing but I do, I feel absurdly compelled to tell you she was beautiful. But when I really try to sketch her in my imagination, I suspect this was not true. I’ve tried to call up a clear image of her in my mind many times, to hold onto it for more than a second, but it always dissolves into the ecstasy of her smell. It’s got to be a sacrilege even to conceive of the possibility, but I have to admit, she could have been the most hideous of goblins, and I wouldn’t know.

 

    If I concentrate on descriptive details without attaching value judgements, I can say a few things objectively. She was larger even than I was. She had a bloated, swollen abdomen that extended at a point like my sisters’ as opposed to the blunt bodies of myself and my brothers. Her eyes were small, taking up a much smaller percentage of the surface area of her face than mine or my brothers’, and like my sisters she had more hair on her head than anywhere else on her body; in fact, most of her was strangely smooth and hairless.

 

    When the virgin appeared, those closest to her descended as a hoard, their golden fluff of hair waving in the fury of their own movements. I’m afraid that we were quite indelicate, inhaling her aroma openly and vulgarly, crowding about her to get a whiff of and a peak at something we’d never seen before, namely fully developed female genitalia. She must have been fully conscious of the effect that she had, yet she acted a part of being harassed. Maybe it was a form of coyness, an attempt to preserve her reputation before the bald lewdness that assailed her, even though we knew as well as she did that she couldn’t have come to this place by accident. This hollow in the woods must have been purposely designed by some giant hand as a stage for her, an arena for us to squabble for the chance to display our devotion. We had nothing to fight with but we pawed at each other, inanely eager dissolve all loyalties to each other in order to prove that our whole loyalty belonged exclusively to her.

 

    I say we, but I was not actually among the cloud of people who surged forward to form the virgin’s enterage. By this time I had recovered my whits to some small extent, and maybe it was my own inner sense of inferiority that I listened to, or maybe I had an instinct for self preservation, but a I hung back. This was all so new to me that it made sense to sit this one out and watch. I have never been the type to launch myself into things, but like to take the time to weigh my options.

 

    The virgin streaked swiftly across the clearing and people crowded behind, in a bickering sparring bunch whose mouths salivated uncontrollably and eyes dogged her intractably. I can only imagine that the intensity of her odor was have been incredible to those closest to her, when even from several feet away under cover of the ring of trees it drove everything else from my mind. Maybe if I’d been less overwhelmed and scatterbrained I could have prevented what happened next.

 

    The virgin was leith, fast, much quicker in her movements than my bulky brethren whose ranks broke and reformed like a wave crashing violently against a rocky shore. None of them seemed able to keep up with her, never mind the fact that anyone who got close was hampered by immediately being pounced upon by several others. The front runner of the virgin’s tail was constantly shifting, being bowled over and replaced by another contestant, and for what seemed like an eternity no one managed to touch her, though everyone strained madly for this honor. 

 

    At last I saw a single champion emerge, leaving the others to grapple vainly in his dust. This person’s eyes were so wide and shining, they seemed to bulge outward to take up the entire surface area of his face. It took me a moment to realize, with a burning flare of hatred that I will always regret, that the forerunner was my own brother, who had brought me here. He latched onto the virgin queen even as she pushed indomitably ahead, and for the barest instant he gripped her to him, still propelled by her forward movement. They were like a rocket zooming past me, and almost too rapidly for me to make out the details my brother contracted his strong abdominal muscles. His eyes burst into a glorious aurora, his limbs jerked in a weird contortion. Then he stiffened and fell back, momentarily cemented to her, a paralyzed weight she pulled with her, her head lowered and neck bulging with the tremendous effort to keep going. More than anything else I remember the way his eyes changed, the thunderous sound than rang in my ears for hours afterward. 

 

    My brother’s belly ripped open. He literally exploded, coming apart from the virgin in a manner that resembled the outer flesh being torn away from an apple’s core. His entire front was a hollow, shredded ruin that gaped emptily, and the glistening florescent green ropes of his guts remained attached to the queen, hanging between her legs like a gruesome trophy. 

    He was dead before he struck the ground, falling like a rock, head first. And nobody else even seemed to realize that my brother had been literally gutted like a fish. They were blinded to the tattered remnants of his innards worn by the queen like a skirt, ramming their own filmy translucent organs right into the center of this gory mess in their haste to love her and to die, too.

 

    My childhood lasted precisely 25 days. I know because I counted the waxing and waning temperatures that came with the sunrises and sunsets, because I named each new day according to its number and repeated that number to myself over and over again to make sure it didn’t slip from my mind. It’s the hours, that made me do this. I have always had a tantalizing unhealthy fascination with hours. 

 

    I became aware of my brother growing beside me after perhaps a week had passed. There were others, but many of them disappeared, spirited away while I was too young to feel anything but ambivalence. Later I would learn that these brothers of mine who were culled were abominations, the product of shocking incest. My sisters were born first, and took care of me while I grew with a detached coolness. I was nurtured by ice, I grew up knowing I was other. My sisters fed me while I was too helpless to feed myself, before I realized that this was because of a flaw in my design that could not be attributed to youth. I watched them dully as they flitted about, robotically, their small eyes hard and businesslike, attending to tasks such as preparing food, cleaning, home repairs. I assumed that I would take my place among them eventually and learn to do everything that they do, that I would grow to be steely and determined, take my place in their ranks.  But I was wrong and ultimately that awareness came to me, the reality of my defect set in. They never mocked me but I could see in their eyes a kind of disgust. By the time I reached adolescent, my sisters seemed to have shrunk in comparison to my bulk, and I was ashamed. I was a mutant, a hideous monster of a thing to be tolerated and sustained for no other purpose than to take up space and cramp the already limited volume of our rooms. I was always in the way of my sisters as they hummed about their tasks, and often when they were busy they would brush against me without undue gentleness. I wanted to hide myself but there was nowhere that I could be except idling exposed in the largest chambers of our home. I learned that touch was not a desirable thing. It was tainted with the sting of scorn. Not surprising that my brother and I learned to exchange blows as a means of communication. 

 

    Death was an ever present reality even from the earliest days of my life. The home where I lived was large, always a hive of activity, and since we all grew and existed and died on different internal schedules on average I witnessed several dozen deaths every day, just by the happenstance of being in a particular hallway when someone’s time ran out. I’ve seen people just drop, their bodies worn through, joints deteriorating from over use, nobody even pausing to notice the death of one of our family who has given their all for the group. Nobody wants to think that it will happen to them, soon enough.

 
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