For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

“Among Animals and Plants”

Andrei Platonov


Beneath the hunter crawled diligent ants, burdened like respectable little people with heavy loads for their households. They are vile creatures, he thought, with the character of kulaks. They spend all their lives dragging goods into their kingdom; they exploit every solitary animal, big and small, that they can dominate; they know nothing of the universal common interest and live only for their own greedy, concentrated well-being. Once, the hunter had happened to see two ants dragging an iron filing from the railway line: it seems that ants even need iron. The hunter stamped on some of the nearest ants, then moved away, so as not to enrage himself further. He was like his father: his father also got angry whenever he went out hunting, waging war on the birds and the beasts as if they were ferocious enemies, expending every last bit of malice in his heart while he was in the forest, and then returning home a kind, sensitive family man. Other hunters weren’t like this at all; they wandered tenderheartedly through the grass, killing animals with love and caressing flowers and trees with trembling pleasure, while at home, among people, they lived lives of irritation, longing to be back in nature, where they could feel that they were the ones in charge, thanks to their rifles.