Often I would listen to what they were saying, but I was distracted by the spring air on my skin, and a hazy imagination of what I'd get to do at home. Cartoons, or books, and milk with Oreos. There was a moment, when the Oreo had absorbed all of the cold milk that it could. I'd lift it slowly out of the glass, wondering if it would maintain its consistency all the way to my mouth or fall back into the milk crumbling as sodden sweet chocolate dirt.
My eyes focused on Grandma's leg. Where her stocking ended, the skin was mottled with purple veins, and nearly grey. An insect hovered up, dagger-shaped, sharp at both ends. It had black and yellow stripes. The wings were a blur.
“A bee!” I jumped up. “A bee!”
Grandma reached down and brushed it away. It came back. There was another one. Together they danced up and down in the air around her legs.
“It's just a sweat-bee,” said Dad. “They don't sting.”
I watched from between his legs, holding tight.
Ancients regarded the bee as a kind of messenger from this world to the world of souls. Some even thought of a bee as the soul. In a small Eastern European town, in the 18th century, two brothers observed an old woman fall in the middle of the street. They ran to help her. As they lifted her body, a buzzing sound, then a bee flew from her mouth. She stiffened at once, and turned as cold as death. The young men carried her to their cottage, and rested her on the table. She didn't move or breathe. After some time, a bee flew through the open door, toward her body, alighting on her motionless lips, then entered them. She coughed once, and sat up, living.