I was trying to write today when I noticed an ant at the edge of my keyboard. It crawled with a sort of disoriented determination that deeply distressed me because I also didn’t know where I was going with my writing. I couldn’t stop staring. It wouldn’t get off my computer and I was feeling very lost with my poem, almost as lost as the ant, so I honestly sympathized with it a little. But in retrospect, my sympathy was probably an illusion.
It was then that it crawled under my “G” key. I had been in the midst of some intense alliteration with the letter G, so it pissed me off. It crawled out, then back under the “H” key. I had given up on writing completely at this point. I never knew ants could fit under there, but I knew I would have continued typing had I not seen it crawl under my keyboard, and it would have died under the shift key or something. Another small soul sent away. Like it had no purpose anyway.
I wanted so badly for the ant to leave that I named it. It looked like a George. Now he had a better pronoun. George was under my space bar and I couldn’t bring myself to kill him. My aggressively hypocritical conscience just wouldn’t let me. But in retrospect, my conscience was probably just an illusion.
“Get out, George,” I said. He didn’t respond.
“I don’t wanna kill you,” I said, and by saying those words, I had made it my mission to keep George alive. He finally crawled out onto the silver stretch of metal. I didn’t want to flick him, so I gently tilted my laptop so as to guide him down. Unfortunately, he crawled through to the back of my laptop and into the fan. So I had nothing to do but to wait some more.
“George,” I said, “this is beginning to annoy me a little because I’m wasting a lot of time. And now that I think about it, I have no time to waste. I have lots of work to do and things to love and people to make happy, and staring at my computer hoping for you to exit it is not a productive use of this limited resource. My life has a purpose.” He did not care.
I opened my phone to find one message from my best friend. It read: “I don’t fucking understand why the fuck he gets credit for work that I lost sleep over. It doesn’t make any fucking sense. They’re all fucked up. What the fuck.” She seemed unreasonably angry, and I felt unreasonably superior for not being as angry, but in retrospect my superiority was probably an illusion. After all, it wasn’t my problem.
By the time George came back out, I was more than ready to kill it. I flicked it away with my middle finger, and it was too easy. It may have died, but my last-ditch efforts at humanity do hope that he ended up on grass, the prickly kind, stiff but somewhat comforting, like my dad’s stubble.
I want to know about every life that I coexist with.
I wonder how many things I have killed just by writing, and how many things I have brought to life.