It all goes downhill


prasanthdas ds from

Anthony stares into the distance as he misses his friend.

Anthony’s best friend, Grant, died yesterday. Grant’s door to his house—a beautiful, tall door of stone which should have been stable if not for the monster—was destroyed and he was also in the disaster zone.

The aftermath was a mess. Soil was everywhere and smushed into the surrounding earth. The little dandelion that was growing tall ended up weak and misshapen. Four ants were lost in the accident—their bodies splayed across the pavement for all innocent and wise to see. 

That’s the life of an ant, however; friends and family die every day, buildings get destroyed, and they live in constant fear of predators. 

Anthony and his colony live at the bottom of a large hill—colossal for an ant. Around him sit five hills—each of a different family. The lake on the other side allows for plenty of fresh vegetation and small water bugs for them to feast on. 

Anthony and Grant met each other as they were collecting food for the Queens. As peasants, though, they don’t get much food despite being constantly surrounded by it. 

“One day,” Grant told Anthony, “we’re gonna have a feast. We are going to blow off our queens, sit on our abdomens, and eat all of the food we gathered that day. It’ll be our revolt against the monarchy.”

This was the only thing on Grant’s bucket list, and he never got to mark it off.

So, today, the day after his best friend died, Anthony decided to have the feast in his honor. 

The day is scorching. The morning dew that is usually present this time of year has already evaporated. The perfect harvest for the imperfect feast. 

Anthony starts his day with all of the other workers, going through the motions of preparation and mindless obeying of orders, collecting the Queen’s orders even though he will not be fulfilling them. 

They all head out together into the scorching sun that dried up all of the dew. 

The collection starts. 

He did not know, however, that that goodnight would also be his goodbye.

As Anthony collects, he thinks about all of the good times he had with Grant: goofing off as they collected in the remote areas of the collecting zone, climbing the stalks and acting like it’s the Empire State Building, doing best friend things and never thinking about the future. It took their mind of the arduous work they were forced to do.

The collection is large and accomplishing. It’s the biggest collection he had ever done—maybe that’s because the only distraction he has is himself. 

As the day ends, the other workers head back home. Anthony sits by himself to the side, watching as the crowds rush into the home in an orderly fashion. He looks over at Grant’s home. Their workers are working tirelessly to fix it; only a few more granules of soil left and they’ll be on their way to get a peaceful night’s sleep.  

Anthony starts off with his collection in the opposite direction of his home. He heads toward his and Grant’s favorite spot, a place by the lake with a neat little wonder of cattails. Something the ants could never collect for it is too large and the Queen doesn’t like trying new things. 

He reaches the cattails and sits down, ready to face the feast made for his best friend. 

The sun reaches beyond the horizon, yet the world is still bright. Many inside the hill have already presented their gifts to the Queen. Anthony starts eating. 

He eats and eats like never before. He has never tasted this much food and this much diversity in it. The Queen leaves her leftovers to the workers. This is her meal. It tastes like rainbows and smells like stardust. Grant would have loved it. 

As the food dies down and there is no more left to discover, Anthony attempts to get up—his family would be getting worried soon, and he is tired of sitting in Grant’s dream. However, Anthony is stuck. He ate too much food to get up and walk all the way back to his home.

He waits five minutes and tries again. No luck. He looks around and decides this is a fine place to rest—his family will get over it and he will explain it all the next day. This way he won’t have to face the guards at the door either. 

He leans up against the peduncle of the cattails, closes his eyes, and says goodnight to the world.

He did not know, however, that goodnight would also be goodbye. His goodbye to his family and his goodbye to the world. But it was his hello to his best friend. His hello in a new world, a one with peace.

A pesticide rolled down the hill last night. A pesticide that usually comes at night, but no one is there to know about it. Anthony died the day after his best friend, for it all goes downhill.