As she lay in her bed of wasps exhausted, she thought of her busy day. Men coming in, and men coming out, ladies following the men, and children following the ladies. There was even a dog, occasionally, to follow the children. She would have loved to talk to anyone of them, the dogs included, but her job was to clean, “and only to clean” as her boss would say, and besides, she wasn't very fluent in their language. But if she could just talk to them, about anything, any miniscule topic, any heart-breaking story, any crude joke, maybe Arlene would feel that much more alive.
In her bed of wasps, Arlene fell asleep. It was daylight, as it always was when she returned from home, but her eyes couldn't resist the promise of darkness. She slept for about 15 minutes, as Arlene usually does, and woke up and stared at a wasp. The wasp changed nothing about its nature. It slowly walked around, mostly in circles. The wasp always made sure not to invade her territory in bed. She watched all its circling until she finally fell asleep again.
This time, Arlene dreamed. She dreamed of her past, of her mother and father, with their huge smiles, and then of the tiny print of those awful documents, pushed forward by a shaky old man in a horrible puke-green suit. She slapped her parents, who then slapped her right back and sent her out of her nap. She nearly jumped up and screamed, but held back. She didn't want to disturb the wasps. They never disturbed her. The alarm clock begin to blink, and she realized that the power must have gone out while she was sleeping. Arlene was now trying to decipher how long she slept.
With no results, she dropped the image of the clock from her mind, momentarily taking a break from worrying about being on time for work. The sunken area of the bed was restricting her legs from growing. This is what she decided when considering her lack of growth in the past two years. It was an uncomfortable bed. She suddenly longed to move from her spot. Somehow the idea of just moving a couple of inches out of her hole and onto that fresh bed, only touched by the tiny numerous legs of wasps, enticed her so much in this moment. If she could just move towards one of the edges, she would be comfortable. Comfortable in a way that her body wasn't stressed onto the bed, but flung against it. Comfortable in the feeling of cool sheets. Comfortable in a new wave of freedom. Comfortable in a way that, instead of counting the tears that would run down her face throughout the day, Arlene could embrace something new. How she longed to move, but she didn't want to intrude on the wasps.
After a few more naps and dreams of selfish smiles, violence, and the sounds of boots and fine china hammering against walls, Arlene woke up gasping loudly in a dimming room. The wasps stopped their quiet wanderings on the bed and stared at her. She collected herself, downed a large glass of days-old water, and rested back into her divot. She worried about how close she had just come from disturbing her stable peace with the wasps. But nothing had happened. The wasps had good patience with her, she thought, and they went back to their business, mostly of circular paths.
And then it came that tingling began to overtake her nose, and Arlene's top lip curled up. She clenched her sheets in both hands, hoping dearly that the feeling would pass. Instead, an uncanny amount of energy began to build in her nose. The more she tried to suppress the outburst, the more dangerous and explosive the sneeze gathered to be. But she couldn't allow herself to sneeze, especially now with the promise of a jolting thrust and a messy, loud exhale. Her entire body began to lift from the bed, holding on by the attached fists on the sheet. As the wasps stared at her, now interrupted from their circles, her tongue peeked out through overhanging teeth. And then she sneezed, slamming her body into the bed and shaking not only the bed but the entire room.
The wasps were quick to react, immediately funneling into her open mouth. They pursed through her throat and into her lungs. Her body was briefly swollen at the locations of the swarms inside of her, which were flying quickly down her body. Her clenched fists had now pierced their fingernails through the sheets. The hands finally relaxed after the wasps had exploded from out of her feet, creating gaping holes with burn-like splits that curled out back towards her head. The wasps went back to their places, and Arlene slept. She woke up, not reliant on the alarm clock, in time for work.
Arlene dragged her feet as she entered her bedroom after another tedious day of work. She approached her bed, a bed of wasps. The still and silent wasps watched her in routine order, still remaining at the borders of Arlene's vague silhouette imprinted in the mattress. She laid down in this familiar hole in her bed, with no fuss from the wasps. She had thought it very kind of them.
As she lay in her bed of wasps exhausted, she thought of her busy day. Men coming in, and men coming out, ladies following the men, and children following the ladies. There was even a dog, occasionally, to follow the children. She would have loved to talk to anyone of them, the dogs included, but her job was to clean. But if she could just talk to them, about anything, any miniscule topic, any heart-breaking story, any crude joke, maybe Arlene would feel that much more alive.