Ants On A Log

Ants On A Log

A Story by inconsistentsea
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prompt - celery

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Nat's classroom was always bright. The windows were large and faced east, which helped when she and her classmates grew beans in clear plastic cups as an experiment. The plastic cups let them glimpse into what might have seemed like magic to them at the time - the beginning of life.

Nat and her classmates, they had sprouted and had so much of their life ahead of them. Her teacher Ms Lee knew this and showed them how to make some healthy snacks for themselves in hopes that they would carry some of the lessons with them as they grew. This was in the days before food allergies were really a thing and parents trusted teachers more. The children had all been exposed to the components of the day's snack in one form or another, but most of them had never seen them put together.

Ants on a log. The children were gathered on the carpet as the teacher announced the name of the day's snack. They giggled or let out uncomfortable exclamations of disgust. Nat did both. She hoped she did not really have to eat ants, but if she did at least she could tell her cousin Kellie when she came to visit that summer. She might tell her she did anyway, even if she didn't. One of the boys beside her exclaimed that he and his brother had already eaten some ants and asked if he had to put any on his snack because they did not taste very good. There was an eruption of high-pitched squeals and laughs and Nat had to cover her ears.

Once Nat's class calmed down, Ms Lee brought their attention to the large notepad on the even larger orange stand with the squeak of those markers Nat secretly loved the intoxicating smell of. She said each letter in her head as the teacher wrote the ingredients in colours to match the items:

celery (light green marker)
peanut butter (brown marker)
raisins (black marker)

Ms Lee then drew what the end result of their culinary adventure would be. Two green half circles, green lines, brown in the middle, and then the ants. Nat's stomach churned a bit with each leg Ms Lee added to the black ovals. They talked over the order of steps to make their snack and then made their way to a table where all the ingredients were laid out under a cloth. They were even allowed to use the butter knives themselves to put the peanut butter in the celery. They all pretended the raisins were ants, making paths in the peanut butter as if they were walking through it.

Once they were done putting their snacks together Nat sat at her desk and enjoyed all the different textures and tastes that were happening at once. The crunch of the celery, the goopiness of the peanut butter, and how the raisins stuck to her teeth. She was too young to realise she was enjoying the complexities of a new food. She just knew she liked what she was eating. What she liked more is that she had made the snack herself, a bit of independence like the leaves from her bean breaking through the soil. But she didn't realise that either.

*****
Years later, Nat stands in a forest in a national park and watches her son sit on a log and eat ants. She smiles and asks if they might taste better with a bit of moss. He scrunches his face and shakes his head as he brings another ant to his mouth. She takes his hand and as they continue down the trail she tells him that she knows how to make ants on a log for him at home.

© 2015 inconsistentsea


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Added on July 20, 2015
Last Updated on July 20, 2015
Tags: flash fiction