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“The Ants in My Pants” — A Short Story by Nice Mwaura

This is no story; it has more of my history. The geography traces back to the journey of a thousand miles I made in my home in the grave. Sorry, I cannot help that I am not brave. This is not about the literature that has my future well wrapped in my tiny fingers: there’s more to this paper that is smeared with the head of corrupted thoughts. My slavery is to the voices of anxiety. But I am at that place, in the middle of the storm, kneeling, searching for the well of my tears. Somehow, the rain became a part of me because it is just a cloud falling apart, pouring down its shattered pieces on top of me. It makes me realize that I am not the only thing that falls apart. That even nature shatters.

He said that lightning was the Northern lights. So when I run under my covers crying, he came flying into the room and peeked under covers just to make it a game. It was nothing I could tame yet I could not abide by the rules of the game. He taught me how to smile by habit not by choice. He made me have a guilty conscience so I was never a liar. I was just five then and he hated it when I cried like a baby.

“No, princess. Pick your head up because your crown is falling.”

Ask my father about all that and he won’t remember a single thing. That is because nothing happened. The storm happened but he never happened. I had fourteen great birthdays without him. Without a damn card!

Every daughter’s fingers has tiny spaces so that her father’s fingers would fill the spaces. Two eyes, two feet, two hands and a single heart because the other pair is in the special man called daddy. My man called me a star. I became obsessed with galaxies but as I grew older, it depressed me to know stars get swallowed by a selfishly hungry black hole or explode and die in a supernova or in whatever. That as much as I shielded myself from the rain, the real pain was that it rained under my umbrella.

I grew up to the mode of ten and at that time there was no space for the words ‘us’ and ‘we’. In fact, such words sounded foreign because out of all the languages, he left me in silence. I however learnt to speak the right way, stand the right way and hold my wrist the right way because he left with everything apart from one thing: depression.

Fourteen years is what it took. I saw him leave but I was uncertain of whether he would ever be back. The greater suffering was not to know whether to keep waiting or forget him. He was in cuffs then and his last words were: “Sorry for the ants in your pants.”

Fourteen years of taking pills and waking up in a fuss. I can’t remember what usually happened along that period but on Mondays I was always in the school bus. And everyone called me insane while the truth was that I had been raped in-between my sanity and insanity.

The feeling of being singular carried on and I was always at that place screaming at Satan’s feet.

It hurt to know that daddy loved me too much to get to my heart through my legs. That there were no ants in my pants. That I too had dreams like any normal child only my dreams had consistent nightmares.

On the outside I was fine but on the inside, I was a coward. So I kept screaming that God had taken too much from me away and all I had was silence in reply. And my vocal cords got tired when the devil pulled them loose and the voice of failure kept replaying at the back of my mind.

Fourteen years later the doctors said I had developed hyperprolactinemia as a consequence of the defilement, so that made me infertile. Or better, courtesy of the ants in my pants. The way they would bite in the darkest nights when he was home, the way he would come to my aid to hold all of me together apart from my legs. The way he let himself even deeper when my tears surfaced. In his own language he said: “The storm will pass and sunshine will come. And so will the ants in your pants.”

But none of those passed. So instead of waiting for the storm to pass, I got used to dancing in the rain.

Fourteen years got him out of prison and time didn’t heal anything—it just taught me how to live with the pain. In the Book of Life, I stopped to look for the answers at the back but neither were answers at the front. I lived all through in a single page until he got out of prison, so it occurred to me that I had lived the same day more than twice.

A million tears did not bring him back. I know because I tried. Neither did a million tears. I know because I cried. So I kept on telling myself that I didn’t need anyone while the truth was no one needed me. No one wanted a badly brought up kid. Maybe no one, that is why I swallowed a bottle of pills only to wake up in a hospital bed with ‘a bad heart.’

I took off my shoes so I wouldn’t stain my holy ground because doctors said it would be a miracle if I survived.

Finally, my sad soul had killed me quicker than my germ. As sunset came up my tears went down. And I lived each day as if I expected it to be my last because my life had been divided into the horrible and miserable. Sunsets became the proof that even endings could be beautiful. And I deserved a better image behind that mirror.

Fourteen days later I woke up healthier with a much more sincere smile and a note in my hand that read: “The storm has passed just like the ants in your pants. And I am glad you now have my heart.”

So this man had decided to give his heart for transplant so I would live. And the grief became even heavier than the guilt of the ants in my pants. Holding my heart felt wrong—like he shouldn’t have trusted me with his heart so fragile and impure. But I was glad finally that he had forgiven himself. That finally I was alive after being dead on the inside for too long. That I had bad memories of him and good thoughts about him.

Is this a story? Is it a memoir? Or maybe it is just fiction?

Now that you have got to the end of the piece, do not believe a single word that you have read.

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