Jesse Jarnow

the animals i saw, no. 2

(Short fiction in shorter increments.)

The Animals I Saw: no. 1, no. 2, no. 3, no. 4, no. 5, no. 6, no. 7, no. 8, no. 9, no. 10

The ants came next, a few nights later. I’d gone to find the house. When I returned, they’d formed a crescent around a drop of orange juice I’d left on the counter. A line trailed to the cabinet below the sink. I wiped them off with a paper towel.

The dark air was cool, autumn wafting in like a top note looking to establish its dominance in the melody. The lake was a sturdy mass behind me as I stood on the front lawn, sipping a screwdriver. I tried to pick out the room I’d slept in during those five summers. Perhaps it was just below the west gable, though I had no reason to believe that was correct.

Melch said he went into the houses all the time. If he was painting and had to piss, he’d just let himself in, no big deal. “These people, they leave their doors unlocked mostly,” he noted, crumbling a dead leaf between his calloused fingers. “Small town, you know.” He smiled at me.

I considered this, walking inland back to the Becketts’, and smelled autumn again. School was starting without me. That was alright. I’m sure my roommate appreciated the extra space. Outside the Becketts’, I paused, studying its shape. The screwdriver was done. I put the glass down and urinated into an empty patch of the garden.