Apricity Press Issue #1 - Page 24

(If you do not believe all of this that I am telling you about the ants, go back and look more closely at the pages of this manuscript --- you will find a few tiny carcasses that I have managed to press between the pages of this book.) Soon the base of the straw has become a pyre of most probable death. The straw penetrates a pile of them that consistently expands, like a dry sponge tinged with a steady drip of water. They scramble over dead ones and living ones and try desperately to stay on the top layer of the pile --- they realize they have made a serious mistake --- and try to go back the way they came.

Some along the edges of the cup are savvy --- they’ve avoided the whole mess of the straw and they know how to deftly perch themselves at the edge of the milk tea and lap up their libation with the utmost care. But still others come who are not so adept. They are young and carefree and do not recognize the danger. They nudge or are nudged into the tea --- I watch them hold their finite breath and swim about in circles, separated from the surface by a blanket of their friends’ bodies. Away from this activity along the circumference of the tea-line, a disheartening number of them float, hopeless --- unreachable, undisturbed, impeccably still in the greying liquid.

A small pond of the dead.

I stay until the cup is completely covered. I contemplate throwing the cup away. I do not feel entirely comfortable being responsible for the murder of many more ants --- at least two hundred --- a sizable fraction of the whole colony and a loss that would be meaningful and negatively impactful on the community, to be sure. But I also refuse to shun my responsibility as a mindful and considerate civilian by leaving litter in a public place that people come not only to relax and reflect, but to mourn the loss of the ones whom they love who used to be living and are now dead.

One by one, the ants keep coming for me. I am always surprised to find that not everything in a cemetery is dead. I have ceased trying to flick them off of me, and I fear they will soon discover the passage into my nasal cavities. The ants are tired of living - dejected and aimless, they continue moving about, lacking an alternative. I shake the strays off of my picnic sheet and begin the chore of carting myself home, wondering what you are doing tonight and if you ever take time for the ants.