Brenna Webb: Mouth of Bees

I threw our six-dollar champagne bottle in the trash.

“Night one in New York, baby!” I said.

The memory of the glass thudding into the bin made my temples pound. It was August and sweat clung to my naked skin. No air conditioner. Just a bare mattress, a suitcase, and a couple of boxes.

I had a vision that once I moved to New York City I’d sip black coffee in a knit beanie like Patti Smith. The champagne was a celebration. The city of dreams. Though Manhattan had her own deck of cards. She didn’t deal anyone a hand, rather she pried cards into your mouth one by one until you were shitting out the Queen of Hearts, realizing plans are an arrogant pipe dream in the face of her steel power.

I tried to remember the end of my first night in The Big Apple. I knew it was bad. There had been screaming in the street, a rented bicycle was stolen from its kiosk, and a fifteen dollar bacon lettuce tomato thrown to the Manhattan sewer-ether. The clearest memory was marching up to my fifth-floor apartment hearing the, “fuck off” I yelled in J’s face reverberate down the seemingly endless flights of stairs.

This happened every time I got drunk with my boyfriend, J. His crime was being there after I had one too many. I know I didn’t deserve the magical cup his forgiveness poured out of, it never ran out. I pushed his chest when he lost the keys. I sulked incessantly at plans that did not run on my timetable. I bitched and bitched.

Now looking at him asleep next to me, I thought his blonde hair looked too pure to rest in my three-thousand-dollar a month roach nest. I wanted to bleach the place looking at it next to his clean and sculpted body. He would wake up and smile without a word. The same smile that met me in mornings that smelled like hospital paint while I waited for discharge papers. We were in high school then, he said nothing when everyone else said too much. I’d tell him where I’d been, he’d smile and say it was ok. His grin met me in mornings that smelled like fresh produce blended for us before work. We were adults then, and he waited when everyone else had left. I’d apologize for being a bitch. He’d kiss me, we’d fuck.

The word bitch lived in a beehive beneath my tongue. Wet and swarming around unbridled insecurities, weeds in an unkempt garden. The diagnoses had always felt invasive, I was simply a pallet of colors that seeped into places it shouldn’t. The black watercolors diluting everyone’s blue. Bipolar.

Two pigeons cooed at my window. Manhattan was a bitch with her rent and rodents. Her broken trains, and trash. With her unkept promises, glamour, she is so idealistic. We had more in common than I’d like to admit. A girl with bipolar and the city that never sleeps.

I slipped into the bathroom, careful not to wake J. Day two started with no paper towels, so I slipped my palm under the running water and swiped the dirty mirror with my hand. Buy Windex, I whispered into the reflection.


Brenna Webb is from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Her work has previously been featured with Basement Poetry in the Spring 2017 production of HER. Other published works can be found published in The Laconic. Brenna wrote and directed her first short film, "SIN LADY" with Mr. Mister Productions, scheduled for a Spring 2019 release. She currently lives in New York City where she studies English-Literature and Film Studies at Columbia University.

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