A Man of So Much Peace
Carlos walks out of his evening yoga class. His students drive away as he locks the door and turns to his car. Then he feels the puncture in his stomach, the blood spilling into his shirt.
The moon sprays down the windows of the building. The ruffling of his backpack dissipates down a nearby alley. He hears the skid of sneakers. The clink of something thrown into a gutter.
Carlos falls, in a fashion no fitness training had prepared him for, and his head lands next to a knocked over garbage can. Everything is sideways. Bricks. Bottles. Brown paper bags. All the forms of refuse from the day.
His left leg shakes. His fingers twitch across his stomach, feeling where the flesh turns up, where the part of his body that was once enclosed now breathes the evening air.
Then an ant walks by.
Dark black. Three-sectioned body. It scurries up the crescent bite of a browning Granny Smith apple. The antennae move, then stop, sensing something different in the atmosphere.
The ant looks over.
For a moment–stomach convulsing, lips wet–Carlos stares at its small, dark form. The compound eyes and curious antennae glisten beneath the streetlights. And in the ant, Carlos sees everything. Lines, weaving, spreading, moving out then returning to their queens. Endless paths of work. Service and duty. Life, so simple, yet so full of purpose.
He coughs. His throat feels wet. And time starts to slow and bend.
He sees no threat in the ant’s small, jagged form. No violence. No fear. Only a look of calm as the antennae interpret unspoken signals in the air. An image of Carlos as a small child appears in his own mind. He is stomping his shoe on a trail of ants, scraping their bodies against a tree root. He is twelve, spraying a garden hose down the entrance of a nest, flooding the tunnels and circuits of their home. He is a college student, flicking an insect off of his textbook and into the classroom wall. Finally, he is a man in his mid thirties, picking a wandering ant off the studio floor, gently placing it on a magazine, and bringing it to a nearby window to be free.
A distant car honks. The ant nods and moves back to nibble on the fruit, following its instinct to bring a piece back home. It grips a speck of apple flesh with its mandibles, then taps its tiny legs into the darkness.
The colors of the sidewalk soften and Carlos’ eyes begin to close. A muffled sound escapes from his throat. And he thinks to himself:
But, I am a man of so much peace. I am a man of so much peace.
Still, he can’t stop the process. The molecules in his body are blending and breaking, following their own instinct to return back home.
He can’t stop the prophecy. The one laid down by the cosmos on the day he was born, pulled six weeks too soon from his mother’s womb.
When the doctor said, “I’m sorry, Ms. Mendoza. I don’t think he’s going to make it.”