—Ants—

They are but ants upon the concrete, scrambling around, busy, busy, busy and unaware of who watches over them. It is I who watches over them. They go about their work, their lifting, the meaningless routine of their mundane lives. It is I who frees them. I focus my glass upon them, and listen back to their high pitch whines, thank you, thank you, thank you. And then, I smile.

I couldn’t help but smile when I was home, safe in her arms, rocked gently into a lull by her smooth, soothing voice. “Don’t worry, sweetheart,” she’d say, “ain’t nobody gonna hurt my big ol’ Anse, not while I’m around.” And ain’t nobody who did hurt me then, when she was around. But I couldn’t have done the same for her, and she did get hurt while I was around, yessir. The drunkard would go at her with his sooted, grubby hands, and beat her with one and down his scotch with the other. That bastard hated every thread of my being, every ounce of her blood, and would go at us every day. But he don’t hurt me when she was around, he only hurts her.

At the schoolhouse, they’re all like him; there ain’t a boy nor a girl with even a shred of decency about them, their eyes on themselves and nothing– and nobody –else. When Ms. Christie would say a good word about one of her pupils, his image to the other boys was mutilated by the well-intentioned sound of her voice. The bell was a hornets nest, buzzing and stirring with danger for the boy whom Ms. Christie had spoken of highly. “Poor, little Anse!” they cried, their hulking shadows towering above the child’s gaunt frame, trembling in the face of his peers. For I was but poor, little Anse, scrambling down the concrete towards the safety she gave me. Because there wasn’t a soul who would harm me, not while she was around.

But then she wasn’t around, and there was a million souls to hurt me. She was gone like a fish that broke off your hook — you think you have it, and then you don’t. And I thought I had her, and then I didn’t. And that bastard’s hands would come down upon me, lashing me as though it brought him some sort of twisted pleasure, bringing a putrid grin to his ill-shaved face. And the boys at school would pick on poor, little Anse, and there would be no one to watch over me. No, I was trapped lifting my burden of hatred, carrying it through my meaningless, miserable life. And I had no one to thank without her.

So I turned my head to the ground, and was busy, busy, busy with nothing to do and no one to befriend. I had only myself and the world, the world and myself, and what was it to do with me? Those boys continued to pick on poor little Anse, and poor little Anse continued his miserable routine. Until one day, he found the ants, crawling upon the faded chess-board of his kitchen, sliding through the little cracks in the walls, carrying their food, all busy, busy, busy. And I followed them, as they were ants and I was Anse. I saw them struggle, burdened by something so heavy, so inhibited by their meaningless routines. So I set them free. I brought my glass, I angled with the sun, and I let them burn. And then, I smile.

And now I’m here. I grasped each wrung in sequence, feeling the cool chill of the metal pulse through my veins. I have more metal with me, as I ascend to great heights. Now I am towering above their gaunt frames, not them above me. I watch as they pick on each other, all believing that they are so busy, busy, busy. I swing the bag off of my back, feeling a load lifted, feeling power gained. I unfurl the canvas to reveal its gleaming black pipes, glossed with sun in the daytime. I put each piece together, click, click, click. And then, I smile.

As I was but poor, little Anse, now they are but poor, little ants, scrambling across the concrete, busy, busy, busy and unaware of who watches over them. It is I who watches over them. They go about their work, their lifting, the meaningless routine of their mundane lives. It is I who frees them. I focus my glass on them, and listen back to their high pitch whines, thank you, thank you, thank you. And then, I smile.





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