Apricity Press Issue #1 - Page 23

The Ants

Megan Jacobs

I sit in the shade of a small tree in the cemetery.

The city can be seen from here, but I do not look at it. I lay and sleep, made more drowsy by the slope of ground. I wake to a bit of saliva on my shirtsleeve, the part that covers the most dramatic curve of my shoulder. I do not know how many minutes it has been. While I have been sleeping, the ants have come.

They summit the clear plastic cup that holds the remnants of my milk tea, steadily growing in number and alarm. More and more keep coming --- I cannot possibly guess from where --- they seem to be produced by the very grass. Several willful ants stray from the cup and try to obtain me for the colony. They are crawling on my bare feet, up my pant legs, through the wild reeds of my hair, some even cross the path of my pen on these pages --- they are trying to keep me from writing this.

But most are concerned with the project of the tea. Many scurry up the curvature of the cup with the speed and purpose of a busy mind. Major congestion begins to occur as they go thrumming along the rim and work themselves up to a catastrophic frenzy. I can see by the way their panic-stricken little bodies pass over one another without collision that some of the ants have made it inside of the cup. Some of the ants on the outside form clusters around one on the inside, as if to congregate and devise a plan to rescue the one.

Some of the ants are seduced at once by the illustrious stalk of pink straw, its length slick and dewy with a thin coating of sweet milk tea. As the ones on the outside continue a flustered waltz, the ones inside on the straw grow conspicuously still, sated with sugar, tranquilized. Rogue ants clamber up and down my back in protest. The ants on the straw are good. They are quiet. Well-behaved. They do not move and they do not think of anything. They do not think of a man who is always obscuring his face with a beard and sunglasses. They are each still and focused on their small contribution to the constellation they now form on the inside of the cup. Colony mentality has prepared them for this.

Some of them find the energy to crawl to the bottom of the straw and drown themselves.