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Back and fourth, back and fourth the ants go back and fourth. They move at a quick pace some faster than others trying to bring back food to their colony. They all follow in a line, one after the other after the other. There's rarely any food around for humans so why would there be any for animals and insects. The ants continue to scurry through the once growing, green, grass that is now a barren desert. The ground is brown, the rocks are brown and the sky is brown, everything is brown due to the storm. The dust is so thick it looks like a bed sheet that you could just pickup and clean off. That's what most people want it to be, just a dream that they can wake up from, however it's not. The ants continue to stay in formation when two bodies approach the colony. One body had a small frame with blonde hair and blue eyes with rosie cheeks and scuffled up hair that was cut a little shorter than the top of his ear, the other had a wide set frame with shoulders as big as an ox, his scruffy brown beard was tangled and matted, with twigs and little bits of nature stuck in it.
Well I'll be darned, look e' here Greg, are you's a seeing what I am. These here are ants n' ants are a good source of fiber
The man picks up the ants one by one taking them out of their perfectly made line and stuff them in his mouth. He licks his fingers in between every other ant to make sure he's getting every bit of them and not leaving a single morsel behind. While the man continues to eat, the ants continue to move back and forth, back and forth, the ants move back and forth and don't stop for anything or anyone.
I don't like that you eat them bugs pa, they's gots feelings too.
Boy you think that these here bugs gots feelings. Well that might be the stupidest thing I've ever herd, in all my thirty six years a living I ain't never herd no boy talk about what others are feelin
For a quick moment the young boy felt embarrassed by what he said and he started to feel tears well up in his eyes and he clenches his fists. All the teachers in school say he's the smartest and most logical thinker. They also tell him he's really good at arithmetic which not many boys his age are good at. He didn't like it when pa called him stupid, when ma was around he didn't act like this. He acted more kind and caring and cared about what people thought of him. Ma had to up and leave to California when there was wind that they were looking for a cart load of seamstresses. She's living with her sister Peggy. She tried to bring Greg but Peggy wouldn't allow it she said
California ain't no place to be bringing children right now. If you's can be barley supporting yourself how are you's gonna be supporting a growing boy? This boy needs to stay with his father until the time comes for them to come out here.
She use to send home money all the time when she first got to California but now that she's been there a while and Greg and Pa have been here a while the tension between the two has grown stronger. Pa at first used to use the money for food and other necessities but as time wore on he got more and more lonesome and more and more sad. He started buying anything with alcohol in it. Ma caught wind of this back in California and refused to send home any money until he cleaned up his act.
I will not send a penny back until you clean up 'er act mister. To even think about you starvin my lil boy, my sweet precious lil boy, with all that knowledge in his head goin' to waist cause all he can think about is how hungry he is. You are a grown man and you're starvin this lil boy for 'er own self benefit? Unheard of.
Ma is a tough cookie. Her daddy died when she was only six years old and her own mama had to work and man the farm. Her ma was very frugal and was always saving every penny she could. This rubbed off on Ma and she only spent money unless she absolutely had to. Greg would walk around for weeks with his shoes tied up with ropes just to keep the soles from falling off. She only bought the necessities and would do anything for her family. The thought of her husband drinking all the money away sickened her. She knew if she stopped sending money her precious Greg would have to fed for himself, but she also knew that her strong Greg could handle the challenge.
The man continues to eat the ants one by one as the ants go back and fourth and back and fourth. He's crouched over picking at the ground. If someone saw him like this from far away they would have thought he was a vulture, picking at the left over bones from a previous kill. Greg swatted pa's hands as he tried to pick up and eat the ants. Greg believes that everything that breaths has an emotion or physical tie to something. The ants have no choice to stop, they have to keep going if they want to survive.
Would ya knock that off
No Pa, it's not nice to eat them, they's gots feelins too.
What in Sam's heck 're you talkin bout boy
Pa you can't do that. Hows you feel if someone came along and picked you up right out a line and put you's in their mouth and chewed on you and slobbered on you and swallowed you? Hows you feel about that Pa?
That's already happen to me son
The man's face is hollow and his body has seemed to shrink down two sizes. Pa remembers life before the dust bowl and before the starvation. He remembers dancing all night long to the fiddle with his friends and drinking until everything was funny. He remembers what he was like before this disaster. He remembers what he should be doing, which is working, but instead he just walks around and hopes for a miracle to happen. It's hard for him to look on the bright side. The government took all their land, all their friends are gone or dead. He's got nothing.
What do ye mean by that pa?
I mean that we's gots nothing to live for anymore son! You's need to get off your high horse and come to the grips of reality. Bugs will keep you alive son, not the American Dream. Do you's think I want to be like this? Do you think I wants to be eatin bugs off the ground? The answer is no Greg, I don't wants to be like this. The only way to survive now is to pick on someone smaller than you.