They took a left, and headed towards the horse racing track. It was Tim’s favourite spot, though it wasn’t wilderness by any extension of the term. Circled by a few giant gums, it was little more than an expanse of grass, rarely trimmed. But Tim liked the space of it. He liked the way it interrupted the surrounding grid, and the way the colours shifted over the year, from misty green winters to January’s golden plain. He would watch the workmen taking down the temporary summer grandstands, only to start erecting them again just a couple of months later. As Tim and Eliza walked across it, there was a bee, humming quietly as it circled around their feet. Tim couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen one. He recalled the excitement whenever they flew into a schoolroom. The danger of it. Bees seemed like something that had only existed when he was younger, like anthills on the pavement, or those dried-up white pieces of dog poo. Eliza had picked up a gum leaf from the ground and was slowly crushing it into a ball with her fingers. ‘I think I want to be a bee-keeper, maybe,’ she said. ‘I thought you hated honey,’ Tim countered. Eliza paused for a second. ‘I do,’ she said. ‘But I like bees.’ ‘They’re disappearing, you know.’ ‘What?’ ‘I read about it on the internet; it’s a big deal in the US. For agriculture or whatever. Sometimes, they open the hives and there are no bees. The queen’s still there, there’s still plenty of honey and larvae. Everything is completely normal, except for the absence of the bees. They just pick up and leave. There are theories, but no one really knows why.’ ‘Jeez,’ said Eliza, dropping her gaze, before looking up with a grin. ‘Maybe they just need better bee-keepers.’ ‘My mum’s gone,’ said Tim. Eliza nodded, her grin evaporating quickly. ‘It’ll be okay, but. She’s a grown woman.’ ‘Yes,’ said Tim. ‘Probably.’ He prodded a twig with his foot. The bee was gone. There was a figure in the distance that looked like his mother, but wasn’t. ‘Hey,’ said Eliza. ‘Are you good?’ ‘Yes, I’m good.’ 12
Hearsay: On Dit's creative writing edition.