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Fire Ant Friends
Andy's eyes were glued to the ant mound. He carefully placed four Black Cats into the domed surface of colony’s delicate home. A few scouts crawled out to investigate the boy’s intrusive invasion of privacy. Andy forced a smile to the other two boys, who were cheering him on while George, a burly sixth-grader, handed him a punk.
“Blow them into the sky, Andy!” George snickered as he slapped him on the back.
Andy was seen as weak by the other boys. He didn’t care for sports, video games, or even girls. While others loved guns, explosions, fast cars, and airplanes, little Andy loved the small things in life. The really small things: bugs.
His affinity towards bugs sounded like nothing unusual for an eleven-year-old boy. However, Andy didn’t like to stomp on them or even play with them. To Andy, bugs, especially ants, were just as much people as anyone else. He spent hours observing them, and even protecting them. He constructed mini tents out of old coffee cans for each ant mount in his back yard for when it rained.
He was amazed at how many variations of the little six-legged creatures there were. He went about naming all the “tribes”, and even painted a unique flag on each coffee can. While he didn’t want to harm them, he knew that they were a fighting bunch. Oftentimes the tribes would engage in massive battles. He was careful to note the winner, as it would usually mean painting a different flag on one of the cans.
“What are you waiting for, punk?” Tyler jeered, elbowing George in the side. George laughed at Tyler’s clever pun.
“Wait!” Tyler interrupted, “Tie them all together so they go off at the same time!”
Andy was partially relieved that he had been given a little more time before the inevitable, but also despaired that Tyler had thought to tie the firecrackers together. He was hoping they wouldn’t think that far ahead. But now all four Black Cats would rip apart the Red-Leg tribe’s freshly rebuilt mound.
Andy’s only consolation was that A) Tyler and George were too dumb to realize that the majority of the colony was underground, and B) the Red-Leg tribe was by far the most resilient tribe in his backyard. This was a sacrifice the fire ants would have to make for him. After this, the boys would leave him alone. After this, he would be seen as an equal: as a friend.
The boys watched as Andy bent over to light the fuse, but over their chanting they couldn’t hear his soft voice whispering, “I’m so sorry.” The fuse was lit: two seconds before he will have betrayed his only friends.
As the four firecrackers went off in rapid succession, Andy began to feel sick to his stomach. What have I done? What have I done!
“Haha! That’s the way to do it, Andy!” George shouted.
“Hey, it’s getting dark! Let’s go get some more and head down to the bridge. There’s a massive mound down there!” Tyler exclaimed as he and George ran through the garage and into the front yard.
“I’ll go get some sparklers so we can burn ‘em too!” George yelled out as he rounded the corner.
Andy heard none of this. His eyes were once again fixed on the mound, or rather where the mound had stood moments before. Tears began to pour down his cheeks as the July evening sky filled with colored explosions and the sounds of independence.
He hadn’t gained friends; only lost them.