INTRODUCTION: The English Professor


-Bees? Bees on her boat?

-That's what they're saying. Six or seven hives.

-Who does that? Keep bees on a boat.

(She does. Frances keeps bees on her boat)

-It's probably for the honey. Right?

-Yeah. She must really, really like honey.

(She doesn't. Frances does not in fact really like honey. She doesn't mind it. She just doesn't love it.

But if she did hate it, you couldn't really blame her for it.

Back when she was in high school, her english teacher got her alone and offered he honey wine. “It's mead!” He said with a dram of sad Medieval literary-style lust in his voice, a voice shot from years of screaming at bored students, “Like King Arthur drank!”

It smelled gross, like something a janitor would sprinkle on vomit. She accidentally-on-purpose spilled it all. Some splashed on her arm and it left a mark that you can see to this day. )

-Maybe she has arthritis.

-What does arthritis has to do with keeping bees on your boat?

-Bee venom is supposed to be very good for arthritis. Beekeepers almost never get it! Something about it being good for inflation.

(Frances did not have arthritis. But her grandmother did. The old woman was practically crippled by it. One summer Frances was sent to care for her grandmother.

On the first day there, the lesbian who mowed the lawn pulled Frances aside and said, “Look kid, I could get fired for telling you this, but the old lady is, first of all, not your real grandmother. And second, she wants to steal your body. She's tired of being old.”

“Oh.” Frances wasn't very surprised, shit like this always seemed to be happening to her. “How is she gonna do that?”

“Some kind of stupid magic. Look, if she asks you to put on any of her clothes, don't do it.”

Next day, the false grandmother called Frances to her bedroom. She told Frances that she'd kept her wedding dress all these years and that she planned on giving it to Frances when she got married.”

Frances told her not to hold her breath.

The old dame suggested she try it on.

Frances sighed. She took the wedding dress outside and set it on fire. And, as the arthritis riddled woman screamed, Frances, one by one, took all of the dresses out of the closet and burned them. After this the grandmother died.)

-Maybe she keeps bees on her boat to keep people away.

-Oh, I see what you're saying. No one I know what board a boat of bees.

(It's true that Frances was a little bit misanthropic. Her heart was a bicycle built for one. But that wasn't why she kept bees on her boat.

She kept bees because at night their buzzing inspired the most lavish and vivid dreams. Frances lived a rich sleeping-life every night. She liked to think of bees flying around all day, investigating all the details of the earth, absorbing the texture of the world.

And then at night, they came home and shared what they'd found with their home-body queen.


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