by Max Lasser
There was a kid at camp who ate ants, black ones; he didn't look for any specific physical characteristics in his choice of ants, he just grabbed one off of piles of sand, wood ledges. The first time I watched him do it I expected him to place it lavishly on his tongue, extend it outward on its pink, fleshy landing to show us that it was there, a wiggling trophy, but he just put it in his mouth and chewed. Looking back, we must have been in third grade at the time, the kid was awkward, continuously out of place; the kind of nerdy smart kid that not even the other smart kids liked to hang out with. We would gather in a circle around him, cheer him on, watch him almost offhandedly let one of the ants crawl onto his finger, and then, recoiled in balls of human revulsion hear him say, "They're salty." No one wanted them to be salty, we wanted him to have something, to be able to eat ants, to be able to do something no one else could do or want to do; he would have seemed less out of place. But the way he did it, making it look normal, it just got worse, and no one wanted to play tag when he was it, or play him in chess, and in the end, no one even wanted to watch him eat ants.
Max Lasser is a junior at The Fine Arts Center in Greenville, South Carolina. This is his third year in the creative writing program. His teacher is Claire Bateman.