To an Ant
by Dan Nielsen

Denise Dust and Gloria Misnomer chewed a handful of Saint Joseph Baby Aspirins each, it was all they had, and went outside.

“The grass is green.” Denise wiggled her toes in it.

“There’s a new anthill.” Gloria danced around it.

“The How Comes are playing this afternoon in the Aldi parking lot.” Denise removed a flyer from the back pocket of her Alice in Wonderland leggings and handed it to Gloria.

“Let’s go then.” Gloria refolded the flyer and put it in the pocket for her They Might Be Giants t-shirt.

“Definitely.” Denise touched the anthill with her big toe.

“Should we put on our shoes?” Gloria stood on one foot with the other leg straight out behind her and her arms extended for balance.
“Are we planning to shop?” Denise considered sticking her toe into the top of the anthill, but didn’t because of what the ants might think.

“Denise, it’s Aldi.” Gloria reached both hands over her head until the fingertips were touching and slowly let her legs spread into a split.

“Definitely shoes then.” An ant crawled out of its hill. Denise knelt and rested on her elbows. Her nose was an inch from the ant.

Back inside, they chose non-disposable cloth bags from the bunch crammed onto the lowest pantry cupboard shelf. Gloria’s was from her chiropractor. It came free with a $25 half-hour massage. The other belonged to Denise. It said Aldi right on it and cost $1.99.

One the way, they stopped to watch a worm attempt to cross a hot and dry sidewalk. Gloria made a tiny megaphone with her hands. “Turn back! Turn back!”

The worm paused for a moment, then continued onward, slowly curled up, and died.

“That’s the saddest thing I’ve ever seen.” Denise’s tears were real.

“I warned it,” Gloria said. “You heard me warn it.”

The Aldi lot was busy, but there were empty spaces way in the back where it bumped into a KFC. That’s where The How Comes were setting up. There was still time to shop, so Denise pressed a quarter into an Aldi shopping cart lock slot. She pulled on the chain. Nothing happened.

“Always try the shorter line first,” Gloria said. “The one at the end of the longer is always broken.”

“Is that like a rule?”

“More like an adage, I guess.”

Just inside the door were impulse items, oddly flavored mac & cheese, cookies from Europe, unpronounceable noodles. But then came the cheap alcohol.

“How many bottles of wine should we get?” Gloria said.

“One of each $2.99 kind, I guess,” Denise said. “In case we have company later.”

“Like Irwin Nervous?”

“Maybe.”

“I can’t believe you’re in love with the bass player from The How Comes.”

“Irwin’s a great bass player, and he makes cool flyers, and he owns a van. I just wish we could get him in our band.”

“Yes, but Irwin Nervous?”

Halfway through their first song, “I Hate My Loved Ones,” the cops came and that was that.

“Hey, you guys need a lift?” It was Irwin, but he said it more to Gloria than Denise.

Gloria looked at Denise. “Sure, I guess.”

“Okay, but you’ll have to sit on laps.”

Irwin was driving, so Denise sat on the drummer’s lap. The drummer’s name was Mushroom Cloud. Gloria sat on the singer’s lap.

“What’s your name,” She asked him.

“Steve.”

The bottles were twist-offs. One was empty and another was open by the time they arrived back at the house. Mushroom had weed and a pipe. An hour later he and Denise were making out in the backyard.

“Man, that’s the tallest anthill I’ve ever seen.”

“It’s definitely the Empire State Building of anthills.”

“Wow, I wonder when an ant looks down from the top, if the other ants look like people.”

“Probably.”

“For sure.”

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