They didn’t even bring potato salad.
A picnic with no potato salad.
I mean, what is the point, Grace?
I ask you--
What is the point?
I know, I know--
Take what you can get.
When you’re an ant--
Mark says we’re bugs, but I disagree.
There is a difference between an ant and a bug, and if you’ve ever spent time with a ladybug, you understand the difference.
The point is, we take what we can get.
That being said, there are certain expectations you have when you’re at a picnic.
Nobody tries anymore.
That’s the difficulty.
That’s what they bring.
Pasta salad with barely any seasoning.
I mean, you’re lucky if they remember the paprika.
The Queen before me told stories that the Queen before her and the Queen before her passed down about picnics where there was so much food, the ants would be feasting for days afterwards. Not scraps either. Entire sandwiches. Ham on rye. Turkey on white. Ham on wheat. Turkey on rye. Every combination. It makes your antennae tingle.
What did we get today?
A few cookie crumbs and half a tuna melt from Subway.
These people have no shame.
Nobody has any shame, Grace, it’s why…
I might as well address it.
The elephant in the anthill.
I’m sure you’ve heard already.
It’s a small colony after all.
Mark is leaving me.
Technically, he already left.
We agreed to do one more picnic together for all 300,000 of the kids, but I think they could tell that my heart wasn’t in it. I didn’t even stay for the fireworks. I told everybody I had to go back to the hill and lay more eggs, but that wasn’t true.
Seeing Mark under the fireworks and knowing it would be the last time…
I don’t know much about the other woman.
Only that she’s a honeybee.
He always did badger me to use my wings more. It didn’t matter that they were mostly for show. He thought it was a waste to have them and not take flight.
Mark, I would say to him, Where would I go? I have responsibilities. I can’t be flying around like some kind of hummingbird.
I’m surprised he didn’t leave me for a hummingbird.
Truthfully, I think he resented how much I worked.
The first time we mated, I excused myself to go start the colony. I had to populate right away, and worker ants don’t just appear out of nowhere, you know.
But he never understood or he never tried to understand.
I wanted to make it work, Grace. You know I did.
Did you see me at the picnic? Trying my hardest to show him what a team player I can be?
How was I supposed to make the best of things when the humans couldn’t even be bothered to bring potato salad?
I knew that if Mark and I could carry a little piece of celery on our backs--
Yes, Grace, I was willing to demoralize myself by carrying food on my back like some kind of carpenter all to show that I wasn’t going to let my pride get in the way of me loving my soulmate.
I forgot myself.
The fireworks reminded me.
That first pop of red lit me up and I felt every inch the Queen I am.
Mark looked over at me and I could see him realize that no matter how much he took on, I could still take much more.
And I would never have to.
Even over the explosions, I could hear the buzzing.
The bee had come to take away my man.
Maybe I could have used a little more honey over the years.
Who can say?
This morning, I snuck out to get some air. The revelers had left one of their baskets behind, and I climbed up the wicker and down into the refuse.
What did I find there?
Discarded tin foil.
A cracked thermos.
Empty beer cans.
People used to try.
Even then, they would fall out of love.
Things would disintegrate.
You’d feel a scorching heat.
You’d look up.
A magnifying glass held by a wayward teenager.
We’re lucky to be alive.
Maybe asking for more than that is asking too much.
When I met Mark, he looked so strong.
A blue firework went up over him last night and I saw him for how weak he’s become.
There’s nothing inside him he can bring out that will change how he feels.
He needs it from the outside.
He needs a woman to lift him up.
My wings have fallen off, Grace.
It can’t be me.
Do you want to hear a secret?
After they fell off, I ate them.
They tasted like dust.
Have you ever consumed a dead lover?
That’s what it tasted like.
No amount of honey could mask that taste.
Am I frightening you?
This is how I talk now, Grace.
I used to whine and whine and whine.
Now I speak plainly.
The only pettiness I allow myself is a critique of the menu at a picnic.
I sat inside that basket and I resented those humans for not even presenting me with a fighting chance. Because if they had simply tried--
If they had put in even the slightest effort--
When day after day, hour after hour, that’s all I do.
All I do is give myself over to the greater--
To the greater--
To something bigger than myself.
First community, then love, and now, I suppose--
All they had to do was make a potato salad.
It’s the easiest thing in the world.
Once you peel the potatoes, it’s all…
Of course, I shouldn’t say that.
Because I’ve never made one.
Maybe it’s not as easy as it appears it would be.
Things are like that sometimes, you know.
They look so easy and then…
A little morsel on your back.
How hard could it be?
From where the people at that picnic stood, looking down, we must not seem all that impressive.
Only we know how heavy it is.
Only we know how much we can carry.
Only we know the line between what will sustain us and what will break us.
We pick up more and more and more.
The fireworks pop and we try not to let anything fall.
We want to take more.
We want to take so much more.
But we’re so small, aren’t we?
We forget that, but it’s true, Grace.
We’re really so very, very small.