Between the Lines


“Why don’t they pick it up?”

“Well it is pretty big.”

“Yeah, but I thought they’re meant to be strong.”

“They are.”

“They’re not even organised.”

“You’re not all that impressed with them are you?”

“Well aren’t they supposed to be? They should be coming out from there in a straight line or something, then  go and pick it up, and then carry it back in that crack with them.”

I considered this as would a man weighing a contract, nodding gravely to myself. We sat at the table outside on the short balcony looking down at the patio paving as the ants scurried in disorderly circuits about the crumb of boiled egg yolk that had tipped accidentally from our lunch, as if from the heavens, into their miniature world.

“I think it depends on the type,” I concluded. “Perhaps they’re not all so organised.”

My wife didn’t answer.

“I think they’re just eating it,” I said, dismayed by her silence, fumbling, as though their advocate, for excuse. “It’s too big to carry so they’ll just eat it there.”

“What about the others?”

“I guess they won’t get any.”

“What about the queen?”

I shrugged.

“Well it’s a bit selfish.”

“They’re smaller than the ones at home,” I said, trying to shift tack.

“Well I’m not surprised if they’re going to be that selfish and disorganised.”

Neither of us spoke, watching silently for a long while. Then I picked up our emptied plates and carried them inside. I washed and dried them, setting them back in the cupboard neatly. Organised.