Stuart lifts the metre lid and reveals a writhing pile of pupae. I watch them swarm and undulate while he takes the measure. ‘They don’t bite,’ or sting? ‘Natives are nice,’ he tells me. I wonder what it’s like to be a hive mind, would you even know you were dissatisfied unless the overbrain told you so? ‘The workers are all women,’ he says, finishing up, ‘and all the men are slaves.’ Stuart slides the lid in place amidst a cloud of buzzing curiosity. ‘I feel sorry for the queen though, all that control without the ability to abdicate.’
Women always see something other than me in me, some autonomous projection they each assimilate differently. Sarah shut me down because she said I was too cool. Amelia knew I was knowledgeable but boringly nice. Danika didn’t commit and labeled me nonconformist perfectionist. Selena isolated points of my draining potential and soldered them to my esteem. The beautiful awful that harries my innards allows only such slivers of self that cursory inspections are easily marked for discard, yet, in some way the superimposition of their idiosyncratic slices saved them. None of them ever got to know the real me.
It’s a dangerous thing to ask a woman for the truth, their barbs are shaped differently than those of men and have a tendency towards the infected prickling of a forgotten splinter. ‘You are too nice,’ she said. I doubted it with the severity of a lifetime’s intimacy, but she continued explaining in her oddly erotic, stiff Scandinavian diction. ‘You are very small and too gentle, I think. Too kind, also? Usually I like a man who is strong, but this was interesting for me tonight, to try what is not normal.’ I’ve since grown to love their lies.