The Ants Go Marching Two by Two
Jim Harrington | Cait Maloney
Abigail lay on the ground, grass tickling her nose, as the ants paraded by on the walking path. Her mom didn’t notice them. Her mom never noticed anything. She was too busy talking on the phone about parties, or somebody having an affair — whatever that was — or other things. Abigail didn’t listen anymore. It was all boring. Not like what she learned on Dora the Explorer.
“Hello, Mr. Ant. Will you talk to me?” Her eyes sprang open when one stopped.
“Of course, little one. What’s your name?”
“Abigail. What’s yours?”
“Edan. It means fire.”
“Well…I’m a fire ant. That’s why.”
Abigail was certain she saw the ant smile.
“Do fire ants bite?”
“Yes, we do.” Edan raised a leg for emphasis. “But only to protect ourselves and our home.”
“That sounds fair, “Abigail said. She turned toward her mom, the phone still to her ear. “Does it hurt?”
Abigail continued to look at her mom for a few seconds, then turned to face Edan. “I don’t think my mom would stop talking on her phone, even if someone — or something,” she added smiling at Edan, “tried to harm me.”
“That’s not true,” Edan said. “She loves you very much.”
“She didn’t even notice I wore my best party dress to the park today for our picnic.” Abigail sat up so Edan could see. “Do you like yellow with little green splotchies?”
“I prefer red,” he said with a shrug. “But yellow and green splotchies are good, too.”
Abigail lay on her stomach and cupped her chin in her hands. “How can you tell she loves me? She doesn’t play with me anymore.”
When Edan didn’t answer, Abigail continued. “Maybe if you bit me,” she said, “and I screamed ‘cause it hurt, my mom would come save me.”
Abigail sat on her knees. “Mom. These fire ants are going to attack me.”
“I’ll be there in a sec, Honey,” Abigail’s mom said with a wave.
When her mom didn’t move, Abigail turned to Edan and said, “Bite me.”