art by Jonathan Westbrook
by Mari Ness
She gave me the amber right after I had kissed her for the first time, right after I started to confess, well, everything. Nothing. The sort of things you say, or don't say, right after you have just kissed her for the first time, and you are convinced this means something.
"So you can carry my warmth with you," she whispered, tying the piece around my neck.
The golden brown was hardly my shade, and from any angle, I could see the insect inside: huge, looming, and very dead. A dreadful piece. But I had just kissed her, and so I wore it, and kissed her again.
I left it there, warm against my chest, hidden beneath my shirt, although discerning eyes could probably see the bump. It was a miraculous week, or two, or three. We spoke of everything and nothing, and laughed at everything. I spread honey on her lips as she gently stroked my skin. I watched her laugh and talk with others, and felt the amber quiver against my skin. I clutched it in my hand.
She was right. It was very warm.