This story was co-written by Carol Roach and myself. We are learning to pick up on each other’s writing cues. Hope you enjoy this.
Bella was helping her mother wash and dry the dishes, when her mom, Denise, saw a line of ants coming from under the window sill. “Remind me to get some ant poison today at the hardware store in the morning, Bella.”
“You aren’t going to kill the ants, are you, Mom? Ants are very unique creatures. God put everything here for a purpose, don’t you know, Mom?”
“Don’t start with all that save the ants crap, Bella. We went through that with the carptenter bees, and now I have holes in the eves over the porch. Before long, our house will be nothing but sawdust.”
“Mom, you can’t kill the ants. Ants want to live too, just like we do.”
“Bella I don’t know what I am going to do with you, child. You have such a love for animals we would be living in a virtual zoo and insectarium. There is no way we can have ants running around in the house, crawling all over the food. It is just not healthy. And besides, the health inspector would be here in a jiffy and throw us out of the house!”
“Mom, I will take care of the ants. They won’t bother you. Just give me a few days to figure out what I am going to do.”
“Okay, Bella. You have 3 days and then I am getting some ant poison.”
Bella went to her room and dug into her closet for some of the things she had from previous science projects at school. Her eye caught on the old chemistry set she had in the 4th grade. She opened it and saw that the flasks and beakers were still in good shape. She would ask her science teacher what she could do to get the ants out of the house without hurting them. She was tired though, it was getting late. She fell asleep across the bed without even getting ready for bed.
Suddenly everything changed. Her bed looks like it is hundreds of miles long. She didn’t even recognize it. Bruno, her Great Dane, looks like a monster. She looked at herself, and looked at her surroundings and she realized she was no bigger than a flea.
Everything was terrifying. The texture of her bed seemed funny, too soft and not comfortable. She climbed down the bed covers to reach the floor. Once her feet touched the floor it felt too soft. She didn’t like that feeling, she just wanted to run away. But there was nowhere to go, she was trapped in a big scary place and the room even smelled funny. She couldn’t breathe the fresh air because she was so small she was sinking between the fibers of the carpet. Her room was not lit, yet it was too bright, She didn’t feel like herself; she just wanted to bury herself in some dirt and make herself a home.
It was hard to walk across the floor because the blue green carpet fibers were like thick blades of grass. It took hours to navigate the sea of green. There was more than enough space under her bedroom door to walk under it without even having to duck.
She was tired and hungry from the long walk from her bedroom that seemed to be bigger than the world itself. She felt so insignificant.
On the tile floor now she saw a spill that had just occurred. She saw her mom and she was a giant, even bigger than her dog. She spoke, but her mom couldn’t hear her. Some coffee splashed out of her mom’s coffee cup and landed on the floor. It looked like a lake. A teaspoon full of liquid is now equivalent to a tub full. She really is tiny by comparison to everything and everyone around her.
She was afraid; all she really wanted to do was run, far far away. She wanted to get away from the big giants. She wanted to find a big heap of dirt to lose herself in. She wanted to see little ants, and make friends with them and then she realized. I am an ant, I am not Bella anymore. I’m an ant!.
“What happened to me? Why am I an ant? Well…I’ve always loved ants.” She rationalized that being an ant isn’t so bad, because she loves the little critters.
Bella, now an ant picked up on the chemical trail of all the other ants. She went to join them. Entering the ant mound she was met with lots of worker ants.
“Excuse me…ummm can you tell me where I can go to talk with the mother ant? I have to save the ants from a bad fate. My mom has given me three days to get the ants out of our house or she will poison them.”
“What are you talking about? Your mom has a house and wants to poison us? You are an ant! Are you going crazy or something? Bella, what has gotten in to you?”
Bella became very confused, she knew she was an ant, and also that she was human ‘” or used to be. She knew this was a mound just outside of her home, but it seemed so far away. She realized that some of the ants belonging to this mound ran away to forage in the house where she and her parents lived. She felt confused because she felt connected to the ants as much as she was connected to her human family.
“What is going on? I feel like I am two people.”
“You are living in two worlds, Bella. On the one hand you are still human, but in your dream you are an ant. You will remember this experience. But for right now, you are no longer human; you are an ant. Your job is to learn from us what it is to be an ant. For the remainder of your time with us, Bella, you will be called Lefty. You will be called Lefty, because you are left handed in human life.”
Bella’s mom hadn’t heard anything from Bella since after supper when they did the dishes. She went to Bella’s room to check on her and she wasn’t there. Her bed was still made. It was getting late; time for bed and Bella wasn’t in her room. She checked the rest of the house, the garage, and outside of the house and there was no sign of Bella. She turned on the flood light to light up the yard and called, “Bel-l-l-a-a-a-a-a-a!”
Bella heard her mother calling her, but it sounded more like the roar of a tornado than a human voice. She looked at the ant she was talking to and looked toward the opening of the mound that led to her back yard. “My mom is calling me. I have to go now.”
“Sorry, Bella, I mean Lefty. You are with us now. You will return to your life after you learn how to save us from being destroyed by your mother. You must go to ant school. But right now, you will go to bed.”
Lefty the ant was led to her sleeping spot within the mound. It was her first evening as an ant. It had been an interesting, and also a frightening transition.
The next morning Lefty started ant school. It wasn’t like human school. She was told to do what the other worker ants did. She learned to gather food. She followed the worker ants and realized that she was following the ants up the outside of her house. They all followed each other in a single file path until they got to the window and entered through a crack in the window sill.
Bella’s mom didn’t sleep well during the night, because Bella wasn’t in her room. She started making breakfast for the rest of the family. Susan, her other daughter, was awake now, she asked if she knew where Bella was. “No mom,” Susan said. “Bella could be anywhere. She is probably trying to find some way to save the world. You know how nerdy she is.”
Bella, now Lefty the ant, saw her mother and sister in the kitchen. They were huge giants. She could only hope that neither her mother nor her sister would see her and the other ants. She would very likely kill her own daughter without knowing it. She had to do something.
“Mom! M-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-m-m-m-m-m!” Bella called. Her mom couldn’t hear her, because Bella was too tiny.
Bella spoke to her ant companions, “We have to get my mom’s attention. She is going to the store soon to buy some ant poison. We have to show her that she cannot do that.”
All of the worker ants gathered around Bella to think of an idea.
“We don’t have time to waste. We can’t stay here in this house doing nothing. My mother won’t go to the hardware store today she will be looking for me all over the city. I heard my mother call the police already.”
“How did you hear your human mother call the police when the rest of us didn’t,” Ralph the ant said. Lefty you are the strangest ant. You need see a psychiatrist. I have never heard an ant talk like you before.”
“Well, duhh! You are talking too! I understand everything you say and I understand you.”
“Ralph we have no time to talk we have to do something now!”
“Okay,” said Ralph, “if you insist. I still think you are coo coo and all these stories of yours are too strange for me. But what I think you have to do is go see Sergeant Major, he will now what to do.”
“Who is Sergeant Major?” Lefty asked.
“He is the leader of all the ant colonies in these parts, he is old and wise and has seen and done it all. He will probably be the only ant who will understand you and your crazy talk.”
So off they went to see Sergeant Major. Sergeant Major was so old he wore spectacles and walked with limp.
When Ralph and Lefty approached he couldn’t see them and Ralph had to announce their arrival.
“It is me Ralph from the third colony up the hill and this lefty.”
“Ah Lefty I heard about you, you are the strange one. What can I do for you little one?”
“Well for starters I am a little girl, I think. At least that was who I was, and now everyone is saying I am an ant called Lefty. My mother, I mean the little girl’s mother found ants in the house and now she wants to poison them. I don’t know what to do.”
“Lefty,” said Sergeant Major, “you are here because you have a mission. You must go back and convince that little band of marauders to come home before it is too late.”
“But how can I do that, they don’t know me?”
“Lefty remember you are here for a purpose, when the time comes you will know what to do and say. The only thing I can tell you find Seymour he is the ant that convinced the others to follow him into the house. He wasn’t satisfied with our food. He said there was cereal and noodles in the house and he wanted to try some. If you convince Seymour to come back home the rest will follow him.”
Lefty thanked Sergeant Major and she and Ralph left the ant headquarters. “What you are going to say to Seymour?” Ralph asked.
“I don’t know. I don’t even know him. I really only know you, but I will think of something.
Lefty and Ralph went on a long trek to find Seymour, like Sergeant Major suggested.
In the mean time Bella’s mother was frantic that Bella was nowhere to be seen. The police came and took a report. They assured Bella’s mom they thought she would turn up soon.
“How much farther before we see Seymour?” asked Lefty.
“It’s still a long way. I think we better hitch a ride.”
“What? Hitch a ride? What on earth are you talking about?”
“It’s too far for us to walk.”. Ralph vibrated his antenna in a way that made a loud hum. To Lefty’s utter surprise a bumble bee flew to where they were and knelt down right in front of them.
“Come on Lefty! Climb up and hang on. Charlie is one of my favorite bee friends. He takes us on long trips when we have to go to other cities.
“Where can I drop y’all, Ralphie?” Charlie asked.
“Take us to see Seymour, Charlie. He has to stop teaching the ants to go to Lefty’s … I mean Bella’s house. Her mother is going to kill the ants that keep getting into the house.”
Instantly Ralph and Lefty were in the air. In just a few seconds they were landing at Seymour’s city mound. They instructed Charlie to wait for them to talk to Seymour. They would need to fly back to their own mound.
When they got to where Seymour lived his wife, Alice, told him he was in the big white where the two little girls lived, Bella and Susan. He was bringing home cereal and noodles, because now that she was pregnant she was craving these human foods.
Oh no said Ralph, Lefty I made you come all this way for nothing, Seymour was right in your — I mean Bella’s house where we were in the first place. Oh — I’ve just taken you on the wild ant trip ‘” first to Sergeant Major and now to Seymour’s wife, |Alice. And we could have just met Seymour and his gang right there in the house all along!
“That’s okay I loved flying but now we have get back fast, get back to My house, I mean Bella’s house and convince Seymour and his friends that they have to get out of the house now. I know what I have to do, Ralph. When I become Bella again I will talk to my mom about leaving bits if noodles and pieces of fruit and jelly beans for the ants and they won’t have to come in the house anymore. My mom will be happy and so will the ants.”
“You are forgetting one thing Lefty, you don’t know when you are going to become Bella again and we have to act now because Seymour and the ants are going to die!”
“You are right Ralphie I am so confused, what do we do?”
“We go back to the house and convince Seymour to leave. This is what Sergeant Major said for us to do.”
“But I don’t know how to get him to leave the house!”
“If Sergeant Major said you will find a way, then you will.”
“Okay, Ralphie, let’s go.” They hopped back on Charlie’s back and held on. Charlie landed right on Bella’s window sill and they got off and entered through the crack in the window sill.
They saw Seymour and his gang right away.
“Seymour! Wait!” Lefty cried.
“Who is this?” Seymour asked.
Ralph apologized for not introducing Seymour to Lefty. He explained the whole Bella/Lefty thing and then said that Bella’s mother was going to kill all the ants that come into the house.
“Is this true?” Seymour asked.
“Yes, it is true,” Bella said. “My mother is going to kill all of the ants because she doesn’t like that they come into the house. I have a plan. I will have my mom leave lots of your favorite foods out near your mound. You, your wife and your whole family will have all of your favorite foods.”
“How do I know this is not a trick? I don’t trust humans. They are always trying to kill us and all we want to do is eat
Lefty said, “You can trust me I am an ant.”
Seymour replied, “you’re an ant who claims you are a human girl with that human mother who wants to kill us. I still can’t trust you and I am not going anywhere until I get my share of this human food.”
Lefty looked at Ralph for help but he just stood there. She was going to have to figure this out for herself.
But she couldn’t think and just stood there looking stupid.
“Get out of my way,” said Seymour. “I have work to do.”
“But wait!” pleaded Lefty. “I have an idea! What if Ralphie and I helped your gang to get the food back. It would go faster and you would be out of danger.”
“I don’t need your help,” said Seymour. “We can do this on our own in our own time.”
“Oh but I think you do need our help Seymour. You may want to do this faster than you think.”
“And why is that — Lefty, Bella, or whatever your name is?”
“Because I think Alice has a little surprise for you that you will not want to miss?”
Seymour suddenly stopped being grumpy and smiled. Oh, you mean I am going to be a daddy. Yes, that is wonderful.”
“That’s right Seymour, and you are going to want to get back to Alice and the babies as fast as you can.”
Lefty and Ralphie helped the ant army pack up their goods and off they went. Ralphie told Lefty they would have go back to Sergeant Major to report the mission was accomplished.
Ralph and Lefty reported back to Sergeant Major. He was happy no ant had died in the mission. Lefty was ready to leave with her head down.
“What is wrong lefty,” Sergeant Major asked. “Aren’t you happy for the ants?”
“Well yes, I am but I am so sad because I am not Bella anymore. I miss my mother and my sister.
“Lefty you were always Bella and you still are Bella.”
“But I am an ant named Lefty,” she said with tears in her eyes.
“You have a good heart and you helped us by becoming an ant. No humans can talk to an ant. We are too small and too afraid of humans.”
“But I look like an ant.”
“No child you have the heart of a brave warrior ant. You don’t look like an ant.”
“But I don’t understand, how do I get back to being Bella again?”
“Left just think in your mind, I am Bella, I am Bella, I am Bella.”
Bella’s mom heard her yelling in her room and went to see what was going on.
“Bella, Bella are you okay? You are screaming Ralph, and Seymour, Alice, and Sergeant Major who are these people?”
Bella suddenly woke up and rubbed her eyes. “They are not people mom they are ants.”
She suddenly realized she was back home and in her own bed and her mom was beside her.
And then she remembered the ants. “Mom please, please please, don’t kill the ants.”
“Honey, funny that you should mention that. I was going to call the exterminator today, when I checked, and you know there is not one ant in the house anymore. They just disappeared like magic.”
Bella smiled and went back to sleep and this time she dreamed about beautiful angels dancing in the night.