When I was a child my heart was light and my mother had to tie me into bed so that I wouldn’t float away. Before that, I had floated through the window and gotten tangled in the telephone cables in the back alley. I was only a baby and so I hadn’t been worried about it, but my parents had been upset. After that, my mother bought a blue ribbon that went with my jumper and she slipped it around me every night.
I have a lovely long nose that she gave to me. I’ve been told that it looks smart. Smart like Einstein, not like a good suit. I am often self-conscious about it. People seem to have expectations because of it. They look at my nose and demand things from me. Certain words or expressions. I don’t know what to tell them. I’m a quiet person.
I was quiet when I was young as well. I didn’t speak until my fifth birthday. They thought I was handicapped or damaged or something. We used to joke that I just didn’t have anything to say. It was a joke, but I think we might have been right.
My house was surrounded by new things. The concrete and asphalt were new and the trees were like toothpicks with roots. It was very bright most of the time. The sun beat against the house and the house reflected the sun into the street and against me where I played. It was so new that the birds hadn’t learnt how to sing yet. They were confused by the new surroundings. The mornings were often so quiet that it made your head hurt.
I went outside one morning on my tricycle and watched the vast immobile world that lay around me. The only things stirring were the insects. Insects are the only ones who always seem to know what they’re doing. I saw some ants in lines, criss-crossing the sidewalk in front of me. There were butterflies flapping around as well.
I think butterflies are terribly overrated. For one thing, they’re not very graceful. They flutter around like drunk people. And most of them are just white, not multi-coloured or anything. I’ve never understood the appeal.
So, I watched the ants instead. I stooped over the sidewalk, and I saw that they were stealing seeds from the lawn that had just been planted. They swarmed across the sidewalk and snatched all those seeds as quickly as they could. They had cleared out a small portion of the soil and were swiftly collecting from the rest of the yard.
All summer I kept my eye on the ants. I even went out in the rain a few times, but they never seemed to be doing anything when it was wet. However, whenever it wasn’t raining, the ants scrambled over that sidewalk and collected seeds from that yard.
When the remaining seeds started to grow, I saw them pull the young leaves of grass up, and then take the whole thing back to their nest on the other side of the sidewalk. Over a few months, they had pulled up a large part of the lawn. A little bit of grass had managed to grow, but it was mostly just a patch of dirt.
They had eaten it all. Such a bunch of greedy insects. It was an important thing to see.