California. We have four seasons. Mud, fire, moths, and ants. Moths gone. Summer must be over.
Without even opening my eyes I know what’s next. Ant season. Opening my eyes confirms this suspicion.
A fuzzed black line pulses along my kitchen wall, up past where I can reach, through the bath linen cupboard, inside the shower rail, in the wall, under the lineoleum, where they think I cannot get them. But I do. To this, I am committed. I will get every last one. At first just by pressure, squeeze their bodies to the counter, one by one, black on white, dance on their tiny heads.
Day three I take out whole clans, stand at the sink, contemplate the exact shade of quiet (it is deep green), wait for the water to boil for my morning coffee, eggplant to finish baking, the sun going down. Wipe the roving poppy seed crumbs to the floor. Break down, go find the old can of Raid in the basement on a high up shelf, spray the threshold, the garden wall, a powder fresh scent where the underbelly smack of oak should be.
A new yellow crisp cornered sponge in my hand, when I know I should make the effort to reach for the faded cleaning one. I smear the lot of them off the backsplash, clear.
They do not care.
In fact, will send more, they are going to win. Already have. I try to care they are so ingenious, ancient, committed creatures, figure a way to carry their injured members to some fort I wish I could find.
We are playing army. Theirs, mine.
This morning’s Cheerios, not personal. Tonight’s chocolate bar. Personal.
Chicken bones near last night’s trash, they can have. If only they clean up after themselves, take the whole thing, enough there to last them into the next millennium…
Next season, mud.