Ants March on My Torso
This piece will cost you eleven hundred dollars. I will go to any private place you choose and lie shirtless on the floor. No more than five hundred ants will walk in formation across my body. I will be the floor for them—me, my body with my brain in it. You will be responsible for directing the ants towards me and I do not take responsibility for the ants if you find their movements unsatisfying. They are ants. The curve of my stomach will just be the way the floor is for them, as will the depth of my navel and the sad dip in my chest that suggests the beginning of man-breasts. The hair crawling from my genitalia to my navel will become an obstacle for no more than five hundred ants to navigate. This area of the body is given to nicknames concerning bugs, such as crab-ladder (which refers to pubic lice) and snail trail (origins unclear), though there is no history of it being understood in relation to ants. Please note that the setting of the piece must be private, as, shirtless, I will feel deeply ashamed. Regardless of audience I will be alien, arbitrary, and in the way. I might move slightly and crush some of the ants, and the other ants will keep moving. This piece is not suitable for vegetarians. For twelve hundred dollars I will bring a collection of magazine cutouts of photographs of mountain ranges and gesture toward it half-heartedly. It is assured that this will not be done with any amount of confidence or charm. For twelve hundred and fifty I will add pictures of natural disasters: an artist’s depiction of the asteroid and dinosaurs, everyday landslides. It is not guaranteed that I will gesture toward these images at all, though I will acknowledge them in tiny rearrangements of facial expression. This piece will not say anything new or make me feel better. You will provide the ants.
Jack Nicholls hails from Cornwall. His stories have most recently featured in Chicago Quarterly Review, Weijia Quarterly and Belleville Park Pages. He currently lives in Manchester, where he co-runs the event series Flim Nite and performs in the sketch group Beach Hunks. Contact him via @fakenicholls or email@example.com.