Ants and I have always had a complicated relationship. On one hand they are on the earth to serve a purpose and on the other hand they are annoying as hell. There is nothing like waking up, putting your cold feet in some of your warmest bunny slippers and wrapping yourself in the plush pink robe that one of your kids re-gifted you for Christmas only to come into the kitchen and see what looks like thousands of ants crawling on your perfectly white kitchen counters. As if that weren’t bad enough, they were on the one possession that you treasure in that kitchen the most, the coffee pot.
The swarm of them were taunting you and calling your name saying, “Lisel, you aren’t getting any coffee this morning. We rule the kitchen today.” That was the last straw for those millions of ants. I grabbed the faucet and was thanking myself that I had the foresight to order the one which could be pulled similar to a hose. I forgot what the salesgirl called it but I was so glad that she talked me into it when my old faucet broke ten months ago. I grabbed that faucet hose thing and aimed it like I was a firefighter putting out a fire. I aimed it right at the ants on the counter and sprayed them in the sink. After a few minutes they were gone, swimming with the fishes, or wherever ants go when they are washed down the drain. Next was my precious coffee pot. I can’t survive without my morning cup of coffee. The ants on the coffee pot would meet the same fate as their friends. I put the pot in the sink, aimed and fired the water and watched them go down the drain. I hated to do it but I felt that I didn’t exactly have a choice being that I didn’t want to start an ant farm in my kitchen or anywhere else in my house.
I had a sense of satisfaction and smiled. I had won the battle of the ants. Or so I thought. I poured my coffee into my favorite mug with the black butterfly on it and then I saw it. One ant was still there. It was crawling on my kitchen table. He or she was alone, completely alone. They had survived my water war a few minutes ago. He or she was smart. They weren’t lurking on the counter with the rest of the ants. This ant was on the table searching for something. They were probably searching for any morsel of food crumbs left from the night before. Maybe they found a crumb of rice or cornbread from the cornbread and rice casserole which I ate with my best friend and son. Or maybe there was a drop of wine left that the ant wanted to lick and get a little tipsy. I don’t even know if ants like wine but I figure that any ants who come into my house must like it as much as I do. Whatever he or she was looking for they had to go. I grabbed the spray bottle of insect spray from under my sink.
I sat there at the table watching the ant go from one end of the table to the other. They were crawling slowly as ants do and stopping every now and then in the ant pause that they do. I put my finger on the button of the spray bottle. I aimed. I stopped. I didn’t know if I could kill that one ant, which seemed ridiculous since I had just washed thousands of ants down my drain not more than ten minutes ago. But this little ant seemed special. This little ant had a look in his eye which I didn’t know if I could ignore. I shook my head and thought that was nuts. How could a tiny ant, one ant has a look, any look. “This coffee must have been stronger than normal.” I said to nobody.
I put the can down and continued to watch the little ant go back and forth and sideways across my green and white kitchen table. The ant didn’t have a care in the world. They didn’t even know that their life was in danger. They didn’t have a care in the world. I wondered if they knew what the bottle in front of me was. Then I thought how could they know? Are ants that smart? I tried to remember the documentary I had watched on ants a few years ago. I didn’t remember much of it. I wish I did. Nonetheless the ant was on the move, and I had a decision to make. If I didn’t press the button, would they call his ant friends and tell them come here on my table it's free. I had to decide what to do about this lonely ant. Should I press the button or not?
If I were an ant I would like to live for sure. But if I were an ant, I would have been a smart ant. I would not invade a human’s kitchen counter or table and especially their precious coffee pot. Although this ant is not on my counter or coffee pot he or she is still here in my kitchen and on my kitchen table. If I let him live, am I secretly sending a message to all ants that they can have free reign of my house? Will I come home from work and find my house filled with ants from the kitchen to the bedroom covering everything in my house? Can I take the chance? Am I just thinking too much and have let the science fiction movie I watched last night get the better of me? I didn’t know but all I knew was that I was beginning to like this lone ant and I was not sure if I could push the button on the can of Raid to kill it. I glanced at the ant and back at the counter where his friends had their lives ended because of me.
I left the kitchen and got dressed thinking that when I came back maybe the decision would be made for me. Maybe that any would be gone, finding his way outside. I dressed slowly. When I came back into the kitchen the ant was still there crawling in a circle in the middle of the table. I picked up the can again and put my finger on the spray button. It was now or never. I aimed at that ant and looked it straight in the eye. My finger slowly eased the button down. I felt like I had no other choice. The spray bottle hissed as the button was pushed and it was done.
I let the ant crawl on my hand as I released it out in the yard. The button had been pushed but I could not spray the ant. I let it live another day. I smiled all the way to work thinking how I saved that one ant and could not push the button.