Kate Barss

The year we lived in the attic of your parent’s apartment, the wasps moved in. You were renovating like always, and there was a hole in the house where you were turning a porch into a room, and so the wasps came. Flying through the kitchen, while I poached us eggs. I soon became friends with the wasps and named them all. There was Hila, and Windy, and Lila, Daphne, Nelson, and Beech. Beech was my favourite and she would tell me secrets small as her body, the taste of wood pulp mixing with saliva as you build a nest, how larvae in their combs can eat insects, like ants, but also love the sweet nectar of a blackberry flower. I don’t think you were jealous, but I don’t think you liked the things Beech said to me, you thought they were unnatural and maybe you were right. One day soon after, I came home and found that you and the friend helping you to renovate had taken a broom to the nest and knocked it down from the ceiling. I cried on the floor, and you crouched down next to me, gently passed me a plastic bag with a small piece of comb inside. I held the comb between my fingers, staring at the intricacy of the structure, the perfect hexagons, and I imagined Beech appearing – crawling out of the holes and onto my fingers. Still, years later, I can feel the tickle of her legs running across my knuckles, scurrying to the underside of my palm.

Kate Barss is a queer writer currently living in Toronto. Her work has appeared in The Hairpin, The Awl, Nat.Brut and others. Two of her pieces were recently shortlisted for Room Magazine’s 2017 Short Forms Contest. She is the founder of Girl Crush, an intersectional feminist lecture series, and currently works at Coach House Books.