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This Must Be the Nature of Things Photograph by Rachael Simpson.

This Must Be the Nature of Things

New fiction by Ben Ladouceur.

“This must be The Nature of Things,” I say, meaning, this must be the David Suzuki show about the environment and all the things that are wrong with it now because of humans. But you hear it a different way. You hear, this must be nature of things. This moment. Two men with the television on, one holding car keys, the other the remote control. The dog at their feet, almost dry from her bath. All three quiet, all eight of their feet on the ground. The car warming up in the driveway. This must be the state we are in.

We are both correct: it is David Suzuki on the television, and this is the nature of our things. Two men on their way somewhere, in this case the car, having been somewhere else recently, in this case the bed. It is time to go, and also, the world is falling apart, overpopulated favela by favela, insect colony by colony, algal bloom by bloom. David Suzuki tells us so.

There is a honeybee on the screen, honey dripping from its legs. It is beautiful with honey, fuzz and knees. It is rare to see a honeybee this close. When I see a honeybee in the flesh I am compelled to get farther away. I love my life and want it to be long and free of trauma.

The bees are endangered. All bees are endangered. This is the nature of things. Lives end, and with them, species. When the last honeybee dies, she will not feel her own importance. Bees find nothing important, including themselves.

If you and I were bees, there would be no you, no I. There would be no discussions about what is next, no discussions about what has happened. No future, no past, no terror regarding what is found between us. There would just be an urgency to produce more honey.

Earlier this morning we were not bees, so we did not produce honey. We were, we are still, human males, and we love each other. So what we made was semen, for the first time in a long time, for reasons that are new and, in their way, cause for terror. We produced tears as well. Those are less notable because we have been producing them for a few days—since Cassandra called with her extremely good news. She said “extremely good news,” but we heard it a different way.

The last honeybee in the world will probably sting some dog or wolf, some snout that comes too close to the last honeybee hive. Guts will rain from the hole the stinger makes. The stinger will make the hole by staying with the dog instead of with the honeybee. The bee will show the world her insides.

The bee will say, Yup. She will say, That’s it for me, but I fit a good fuck you in there. That’s what we do, we bees. We fuck our nemeses with stingers and die glad.

But the honeybee will be speaking a language no other living thing can understand. There will be no more honeybees and no more honey. And my nephew, or his nephew, or at best his nephew, will grow tired of stories about how much better honey was than whatever they synthesize to replace it.

All of our friends are married. That way, the babies they make with their complementary genitals will be respectable. It must be so wild to put your bodies together and have, for a moment, no you, no I, just the possibility of more humans in the world—resting on your shoulders, on your genitals.

Our genitals do not complement each other in any biological way, but it’s still usually my favourite part of the day when we put them to use together. One man enters the other and then retracts from him. The number of souls the world contains does not increase. Just the number of orgasms.

The car is warming up because we’re going to meet Cassandra, who insisted on having us over. Cassandra is in the family way, though family is a strong word. Cassandra put her body together with the body of a male foreign investment banker. They got rid of their Is together, their biological compatibility besides the point. The point was to have fun. The point was to have orgasms.

Their bodies missed the point. Their bodies made a new body, one that has been growing and growing for the past six months. The banker didn’t like this body. He took an indefinite contract position in Melbourne, to put a whole planet between his body and this new one.

Cassandra, on the other hand, loved this new body. Her body fit around it securely. She came over to our house and sat in front of the television, her body between our bodies. We watched Wheel of Fortune but really we weren’t watching. We talked and produced tears, all three of us. First they were sad tears, but they became happy.

At the end of the tears, a decision. Cassandra would live here for a little while, maybe longer. There would be three of us, and then in no time four. The new body would have two fathers. It would all be very beautiful.

The female bees do all the work. To talk, they dance. To say the flowers are south of here, they dance. To say the flowers are dying, they dance. To say there are too many bees and there’s need for a new colony, they dance.

We used to dance a lot, you and I. But the idea was to say less, not more. Often we danced until we forgot every word in the English language. We danced to wordless music made by artists whose names we didn’t care to learn. To help us say even less, we put drinks and drugs in the holes in our faces. We danced until we were not communicating at all. We flailed our bodies into the shapes of glyphs from languages that are lost. That made us happy, or made some sort of sensation for us that felt, to the touch, like happiness.

Then we got tired. We stayed in and watched documentaries. We made less semen, and less, and the semen we made was largely drug-free. We made room in our lives for something. We thought perhaps a dog, so we bought one. The dog was not enough. She yelped and wept the day she found a beehive and put her nose in it. We did not yelp or weep alongside her. The suffering was not dire enough. She was not our kin. Kin, we decided, would be enough.

When I was young I drove a car that wasn’t mine. But first I drank half a bottle of Canadian Club. I had no idea how expensive it was; for me, it was just a way to say less. I drove the car into a lamppost. In juvenile I read Charlotte Brontë. Years later, a lawyer told us that I really shouldn’t have stolen that car. Agencies look for perfect records. Expectant mothers always ask to see your file, and this would be a large red flag.

I thought of Charlotte Brontë. I thought of red flags, bright red like stop signs. We went home and watched documentaries. We gave the dog treats. We had a new thing never to talk about.

We have painted the guest room. We have built a crib. But the banker has returned from Melbourne with a diamond ring. Most male bees do nothing. They do not dance and they do not produce honey. They look for females and enter them mid-flight. Then they leave the females, but their penises do not. They bleed to death without their penises. The females sometimes become queens, someplace far and new.

This morning, in order to produce something other than tears, we produced semen. Then we wiped it away with a towel and put the towel in the laundry. This is the nature of things.

The world is going to end. I remind myself to make the bad news mine. There will be humans, but they won’t have any honey, nor any cows, nor any chickens, nor any trees. Humans currently living are the ancestors of the last human. We are not these ancestors. That is for sure. That is the nature of our things. Biology is an economy we will not be participating in. So we keep the dog clean and hold the dog close. We turn the television off because David Suzuki was not telling us anything we didn’t already know. We head to the car, which is warm now. You drive and I hold the champagne bottle in my lap. We find Judy Collins on the radio. She says it is time for the clowns. She says to send them in. She is on the ground and her addressee is in mid-air. Then she says not to bother with the clowns. Don’t bother, she says. Never mind. They are here.