“Gods and Ants” - A Short Story by Steve Wade from his debut collection In Fields of Butterfly Flames and other Stories - 2020
I have been following the work of Steve Wade since March of 2013.
His debut collection can stand with the masters of the Irish Short Story.
This is the ninth short story by Steve Wade that has been featured on The Reading Life. The fifth from his debut collection.
As “Gods and Ants” opens Alfred working on a painting of a boatin the harbour. As he paints people strolling about ask him why the painting shows a different number of windows
on the boat than they see. Of course like any artist he does not take kindly to this. He begins to imagine art connoisseurs and visiting Parisians at “encountering the painting during Alfred P. Parkinson’s first major art exhibition, which would one day be staged in Sacre Coeur, would experience thescene’s essence. He saw them marvelling at the paradise island blue sky and the more sombre blue reflecting in thesea below into which the overwhelmed sun bled white-gold. On their tongues the coastal-air saltiness blends with the plaintive sound of the gulls screaming their interminable plea before the endless sea. And the boats – patient, rusting leviathans, whose white, multi-eyed cabins have witnessed countless fishing adventures far out in the cormorant-black sea, watched over by a yellow moon, hours before the dawn spills across the horizon.”
His vision of his future exhibit is interupted by people strolling by. Of course he is offended by their philistine observations on his work.
“The few aimless evening strollers who had gathered tentatively around Alfred and his easel pulled in others. They swarmed about him like ants crawling over a fallen raptor, flightless, though not yet dead. Their presence and proximity interfered with his concentration. Time and discipline was his defence – Gods were not peeved by Ants”.
Arnold begins to imagine his work is great art. Then something happens.
“Gods and Ants” is as I expected it would be,a perceptive, interesting and fun to read story.
About the Author - Steve Wade’s award-winning short fiction has been widely published in literary magazines and anthologies. His work has been broadcast on national and regional radio. He has had stories short-listed for the Francis McManus Short Story Competitionand for the Hennessy Award. His stories have appeared in over fifty print publications, including Crannog, New Fables, and Aesthetica Creative Works Annual. His unpublished novel, On Hikers’ Hill was awarded First Prize in the abook2read.com competition, with Sir Tim Rice as the top judge. He has won First Prize in the Delvin Garradrimna Short Story Competition on a number of occasions. Winner of the Short Story category in the Write by the Sea writing competition 2019. His
short stories have been nominated for the PEN/O’Henry Award, and for the Pushcart Prize.
From the Author’s introduction
“The stories in this collection first appeared in anthologies and periodicals. Some of them have won prizes or have been placed in writing competitions. Ostracised by betrayal, isolated through indifference, gutted with guilt, or suffering from loss, the characters in these twenty-two stories are fractured and broken, some irreparably. In their struggle for acceptance, and their desperate search for meaning, they deny the past”
A very worthy edition to the reading list of all lovers of the short story.