The boy who played with ants

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Sometimes I’ll walk by the roads of the town outside the base and I’ll see the little deposits of sand like mountains piled up against the curb, and it will always remind me of the sort of landscape the road outside my house provided. Little sand-mountains piled up on brick roads that burned in the summer months and froze your toes in winter, and there would always be ants. There was an army of ants that lived in an anthill just outside the door and I’d catch them, one by one, and place them elsewhere on the road, and watch as they marched back to their military base. I wondered if they reported to their higher ups about me and what they would say about the boy that caught ants. I never saw a general ant march out of the base and give me a stern talking-to, so I suppose they knew what will be, will be. Did they always know? Did they know I would grow up and march out of my anthill just like them, to be picked up and placed down somewhere else until I marched back home, tired and weary, like them?
I’m old now. I walk with a weary step and watch as children run down the streets, passing by my precious ants and sometimes squishing a few. As a kid, I used to do the same. I would run the same paths and come home with the same ant guts and same burns from the summertime-baked roads on my feet and I would laugh and brush it off. It never seemed to be a big deal back then, when ants always came back. I know now they don’t come back. The bodies of the dead are lost forever in the battleground they cross daily in their war for food. I know now, that the ants hold temporary prayers on sand mountains for those they lost, that the ants have seen so many die that they can no longer sleep without hearing their tiny last breaths, that their constant marching doesn’t help them run from the memory of the last battle.
I know, because I am the boy who became an ant.





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