Smack. Score one for me. I tossed the tissue containing the dead ant in the garbage and stood back, my skin crawling. For the eighty-eleventh time since it all began a few weeks earlier, I checked the source. Was that microscopic feet tracing their way down my back?
Thankfully, no. So far, they’ve never done the back crawl. Nevertheless…
One on the wall. Two by the dog’s dish. Three in the kitchen sink. A few swimming in the toilet. For goodness sake. The toilet. The TOILET? Really?
“Hon,” I complained to the Preacher, “where are they coming from? Outside? Window cracks? Did they start a housing development inside our walls?”
The Preacher shrugged, then shuddered. He has no love of ants either. But he doesn’t make a loud fuss like I do. Or get panic attacks. Prone on the bed in the inky night, my heart beats like a live bird in my chest, flapping to escape. Thrumming so loud I can hear it.
“I have to run away. Go to a hotel or something,” I told a friend. “I’ve never been as discombobulated about anything except human stories. Not even mosquitoes.” (That’s remarkable, considering that in 2007 the Preacher was disabled by a mosquito, carrying West Nile neurological disease.)
The thermometer still read deep winter when the ants moved in; just a few at first. We resisted them with ant traps, ant syrup, vinegar, sticky tape, vigilance and changed habits. No snacking while watching TV. Clean out the toaster crumbs daily. Wipe, sweep, vacuum and repeat. Yet the onslaught has continued.
I don’t mean hordes – the most I’ve seen gathering in one place is four at a time, but they’re winning the war. They’ve enlarged their territory throughout our small ground floor bungalow. The scoreboard shows a loss for the home team, and we’re tiring. The team from away has an endless supply of players. Dispatch one and a dozen arrive for the funeral.
“Go to the ants, you lazybones,” the Bible says, in Proverbs 6:6. “Consider how they do things. You will learn wisdom.” (Gibson paraphrase.)
“We don’t have to go to the ants, Lord,” I’ve told Jesus. “They’ve come to us.”
What have I learned so far? The insects are bold and persistent. I am less so, by far. “Please forgive my fussing and teach me what I need to learn, Father. Fast. Amen.”
Clearly, my lessons aren’t done yet. I suspect I won’t realize what the little sinners have taught until this is long behind me.
I won’t sleep tonight for two reasons—fear of ants in my bed (so far that hasn’t happened) and excitement. Reinforcements show up at ten a.m. tomorrow; trained professionals who say they can “take care of things.”
God, let it be so.