Woke up a few days ago with the beginnings of a story in my head. Decided I had more important stuff to do, so ignored it. Haven't been able to shift it, so I decided to write the bastard down in the hopes of shutting it up. Might expand on it later, depends how determined the story is to get itself written down.
Looking back, I really can’t remember whether or not I knew that Dylan was dead when I found him. I don’t think I was too young to know what death was at the time. In fact I must have known because Nanny Lou had died a couple of years before. I cried for hours because Nanny Lou used to take us to the boating pool on Sundays and buy us ice cream, and I was sad that we would never be able to go on the special paddle boat shaped like a swan any more. But I didn’t cry when I found Dylan. I must have known that something was wrong though, because I went straight downstairs to tell my mother. “Mum, Dylan’s tied to the ceiling.”
“I’m on the phone!” she scolded me. We weren’t supposed to interrupt mummy when she was on the phone. I waited a little while for mummy to finish talking, but gathered from the conversation that she was talking to auntie Sophie. When mummy was talking to auntie Sophie, there was no point in waiting. (One time mummy talked to auntie Sophie through six whole episodes of Beyblade.) So I went back upstairs to Dylan’s room.
I wasn’t supposed to go in Dylan’s room. I had only gone in because I wanted to borrow Mario Kart and Dylan hadn’t answered when I knocked. Dylan hadn’t said yes though, so I didn’t take the game. I remember just sitting there, on the edge of his bed, watching him gently swing. He didn’t look like Dylan. I mean, he looked enough like Dylan for me to know that it was him, but there was something very… For lack of a better explanation, something “not Dylan” about him. His neck was all long and black, but his hands were all white. They didn’t look like real hands. They reminded me of when we went to the wax museum in London and looked at all the figures of famous people that were made out of wax. Mummy took lots of pictures with all the wax figures of famous singers and actors. I didn’t like it there because there were too many people, so I stayed in the place with all the historical wax figures. Not many people wanted pictures with them. I was alright there until mummy found me and shouted at me for running off. I hadn’t run off, I had just walked through the museum until I found the most quiet place, but mum was really angry and took us home early. I didn’t get to go to the aquarium.
I didn’t like looking at Dylan’s pale wax hands, so I looked at his feet instead. I remember Dylan was wearing odd socks. One was plain grey and the other one was black with a picture of Darth Vader. I liked the Darth Vader one better. I thought about looking through Dylan’s sock drawer to see if I could find the other Darth Vader sock and swap it for his grey one so that they matched, but I changed my mind because I didn’t want to see if Dylan’s foot was all white like his hands.
Because I was looking down, I noticed something interesting. There was an ant on the floor. It was strange because I didn’t know where it had come from. Usually, with ants, there are lots of them, all walking in a line, but this one was all on it’s own. How had it gotten there? Had it climbed all the way up the stairs, or had it come in through Dylan’s window? I wanted to find out where it had come from, so I lay down sideways on the bed and watched it. The ant crawled across the carpet and over one of Dylan’s dirty t-shirts. There was a chair on the floor that had fallen over and the ant walked around that. Eventually, he found his way to an empty crisp packet. When he got to the opening, he poked at the edge with his front legs a lot until he found a part that was low enough to the ground that he could climb inside. I couldn’t see the ant for a long time, but I knew there was no where else he could go, so I kept my eyes glued to the opening of the crisp packet, waiting for my little ant friend to re-emerge.
I have no idea how long I sat there waiting. Honestly, it could have been minutes or hours, but when he finally did come out, the ant was carrying an extremely small crumb in it’s pincers. At the tender age of seven, I found this absolutely fascinating. The crumb was tiny, but easily three times the size of the ant that carried it. I think my teacher told me once that ants are the strongest animals in the world. They can lift 20 times their own body weight. That would be like a human carrying a rhinoceros. Wriggling across the bed, I leaned forward to get a closer look at the ant. Now that it had some food, it would make it’s way back to the colony and I would find out how it had gotten all the way into Dylan’s bedroom. Sadly, my intense wildlife study was cut short by a scream that almost caused me to fall off the edge in the bed in shock.
Mum was standing in the doorway, her eyes were wide and her pupils tiny, her body bent forward half way between a stand and a crouch, as if she were about to topple over. I was worried she would be cross with me for going in Dylan’s room without permission, but instead she turned and ran away, screaming at the top of her lungs. I could hear her running down the stairs and the slam of the front door as she threw it open. I went to Dylan’s window and looked outside to see my mother still screaming as she ran barefoot through the street, still in her dressing gown. Eventually some of the neighbours came outside to find her collapsed in the middle of the road, rocking back and forth with her head cupped in her hands. They cautiously approached her and she started frantically yelling at them, though from all the way up in Dylan’s room, I couldn’t make out much of what she was saying. The neighbours weren’t scared of Mum’s shouting though. A lady from across the street whose name I can’t remember awkwardly put her hand on my mothers shoulder, before directing instructions to her husband. The man ran back into his house and emerged later with a blanket which the lady draped over my mother’s shoulders. A few other people had come outside now to see what was happening. Mrs Clover from next door was on the phone and asking my mum questions, but my mum didn’t talk nicely to her, only shouted. I wondered what Mrs Clover had done to make my mum so angry. A car drove down the road but stopped when it saw my mum kneeling in the middle of the road and started honking it’s horn really loud. The husband of the lady across the street went to talk to the driver while the lady pulled mum to her feet, leading her into her house. Mrs Clover followed them inside with the phone still to her ear, joined shortly after by the husband who closed the door behind him. The car drove away and gradually, all the other neighbours headed back to their own houses.
Once all the commotion was over, an important thought suddenly occurred to me. I headed back towards the crisp packet to see if the ant was still around. I couldn’t see him. I searched Dylan’s bedroom, thoroughly scanning every inch of the floor several times over as the sound of the sirens grew louder. As I was looking under the bed, one of the ambulance people dragged me out by my ankles, quickly shooing me away as he had a very important job to do. To this day, I have no idea how that ant got in my brother’s room.
I really liked the mood.
The sentence "At the tender age of seven, I found this absolutely fascinating" felt jarring, as a telling sentence among showing ones. The protagonist's fascination with the ant's activities could have easily come across with further elaboration in the rest of the paragraph. The protagonist's age could be appended to a line elsewhere. That entire sequence could be condensed to something like, "Honestly, it could have been minutes or hours, but when the ant finally did come out, he was carrying a crumb easily three times its size in its pincers. I think my teacher told me once that ants are the strongest animals in the world."
I was hoping for the ant to be utilized further as a symbolic device in the story, perhaps connected to Dylan's titular legacy, but, if it was, it didn't come through in this version of the story.
Nah, it was just an ant that the brother was very interested in.