I imagine most predators hunt out of necessity. I assume that a pride of lions does not seek out a dangerous elephant simply to bring it down in the way that a group of high schoolers play Ultimate Frisbee after school, but that they do so in order to continue living. If this is true, then why do ants take such vindictive pleasure in hunting me down and destroying the delicate weave of my sanity? Their cruel and malevolent pursuit of my person began, I’m sure well before this, as they were surely plotting long before they took action: my freshman year.
I step out of the car and dash to the rain protected side of my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu studio. Despite the wet weather I am a bright young pupil, full of life and energy, eyes brimming with the hunger for knowledge. I step into the building, wipe my feet on the doormat and say hello to Julie’s mom, the secretary. I then receive the news that will throw my small mind into hyper awareness for the better part of a tortuous year. “Sweetie you have ants all over your face.” I am in disarray, wiping my face and running to the girls restroom where I find, she is correct. Even though the ants are drenched in rainwater and plastered to my skin, useless, a cold stake of fear drives itself into my young fluttering heart. I spend the class distracted, flying on autopilot as I stare into the mirrors, searching, and jumping at every fiber of my body that the invisible feet of ants could roam.
An hour later the class is dismissed and I grab my bag from the back corner only to drop it in fright as I see it has been overrun with disgusting insects. The ants have infiltrated my bag. I return home on edge but by the end of the week have fallen back into my usual routine. After all ants happen sometimes, right?
Now let me preface this by saying that I keep my room free of food, as well as all of my bags. I do not keep food in places food does not belong and therefore the idea that these ants were drawn to me because of some sweet treats left in my possession is preposterous. My grandmother suggested that I was just so sweet of a person that ants couldn’t help but come to me, but I dismissed that knowing full well that I was not sweet, but an insufferable jackass.
Now every summer there was a colony of ants that would form a line, climb the railing on the front porch, go up over the arch and somewhere up the side of the house. This happened to be directly over the window to my room. A little over a week after the first ant incident, this colony decided to alter its course through the window and into my room. Years of the same path and suddenly they move into my room? This was no accident, this was a planned attack. Perhaps attack might be a bit of a stretch as they didn’t do much of anything. They just wandered around my room in my things, but I knew what they were really doing. The colony was watching, scoping me out, and waiting for the perfect moment to descend upon my unconscious body. I didn’t sleep much. Images of ant ridden corpses and skulls with eyeless sockets shimmered around my bed at night.
At this point my only escape was school, but of course it was not to last. Second period English with Cordell shattered my peace. As soon as the words “I have an ant problem in my room right now” left her lips I curled tight in my chair, white as a sheet and emitted a low pitched whining noise. Even though they were on the other side of the room, behind her desk, I could feel them crawling over my skin and under my clothes. Instead of doing school work that day I googled if you could get a restraining order on ants out of desperation. Turns out, you can’t. They had entered my last sanction and from then on out, followed me everywhere. The halls, the cafeteria, the chicken coop, the car, my bed. It didn’t end. It unravelled me. I had no idea what was happening and it was terrifying. Then as suddenly as it had started, the ants retreated. What happened to them and where did they go? Did they get what they wanted? I didn’t know, I was just relieved that that were gone. Maybe during their raids they heard my desperate promise: as long as they let me go I would never stomp another ant bed in my life. But that insinuates something even more sinister than organized battle plans. Ants are capable of comprehending human speech.
By Gretchen Lemmond