Chapter 7: The Picnic
It’s not easy being a bug.
Well, an ant, to precise. Humans seldom pay any attention to us, unless we’re encroaching on their personal space, or more importantly, their food. This is why me and my friends absolutely adore the summer concerts on the great lawn. Every week, we’re pretty much guaranteed a front-row seat for a cornucopia of goodness that sometimes we appreciate even more than the humans! No longer content to skim off the random candy wrapper or half-eaten ice cream cone discarded by toddlers in our midst, on these evenings we clean up our mandibles and feast like kings and queens.
My buddies Flanders and Gunther joined me on the far edge of the lawn, a bit in the shade, but a spot where we’d scored big in the past. Humans typically set out their spreads and are then mightily distracted by the music off in the distance. This leaves us in a pretty good spot, having full run of the place ’til one of their pudgy fingers reaches down and invariably sees one of us going for the very item they’d like at that moment. I felt that we’d be particularly lucky tonight, as it was a really good band. I spied a dark red plaid blanket in the distance, and as we approached, I felt a flutter in my thorax. A bowl of grapes, cheese, crackers and a bottle of wine. These folks would be here for awhile, and they were clearly a classy bunch. It was a nice brick of cheese, the kind with holes. Gunther suggested we lie in wait just below a fold of the blanket, and Flanders (the most expert forager among us) agreed wholeheartedly. Once the music struck up, he said, we’d emerge from our fold and gorge ourselves.
A few moments later, after quasi-witty banter from the master of ceremonies and the beginning of the music, we sprung into action. I started in on an edge of a deliciously salty cracker while the other boys tried to make a dent in the cheese. We had to keep our antennas sharp, always on the lookout for those pudgy fingers. However, none came. More moments went by, and we were increasingly aware of the fact that the food had been untouched by human hands. I gestured to the cheese-eaters to head over and huddle; I had a weird feeling that something was awry. We gathered at the edge of the plate and glanced skyward.
The humans were not listening to the music. One was gesticulating wildly to the other, and the tone of their voices was not jovial, not friendly. They took turns speaking to (well, at) each other. It was a man and a woman, and though I couldn’t make out the subtext of what they were saying, they punctuated their speech by pointing their fingers at each other, shrugging their shoulders and folding their arms, staring off into the trees before picking up the conversation again. They clearly weren’t hungry. Maybe we’d picked the wrong blanket, I thought to myself. Maybe we would be wise to pack up and wander off to another place. I sensed danger. I hate unpredictable people.
It was at that moment that Flanders shoved me off the edge of the plate, just before a huge drop of rain smashed into the spot where I’d been sitting. He and Gunther came down to see if I was okay, and we all agreed it’d been a close call. We glanced skyward again, not remembering that rain was in the forecast. However, the cloudless sky told us that it wasn’t rain. If not rain, what? I looked at the woman’s face and saw a tear rolling down from her eye. It rolled in a succession of other tears down her cheek, and with nowhere else to go, fell directly down onto the plate again.
She was crying, for sure, and the man was looking away. I wondered what it was all about?
My moment of concern didn’t last for long, though. The band started playing another song, and the couple was speechless, yet the tears kept on falling.
All I wanted to do was get back to that cracker.
This story is part of a series of stories I’m writing as part of a commitment to sketch each day of 2016. My #365daydraw project yields an image each month, by popular choice, to serve as inspiration for each chapter.
Read more about my #365daydraw challenge