Arthur the Ant (part 1)
By Artelle Lenthall
“Come on slowcoach!” Big Billy yelled at a small bespectacled ant who was staring up at something very long and very tall. Arthur tore himself away, heaved his cake crumb from the picnic rug and wandered slowly away, still glancing back occasionally at the amazing structure which now completely consumed his mind. This was incredible for Arthur whose mind was always so full of ideas that he moved slowly and deliberately.
Despite this, Arthur still managed to trip over a grass root dropping his crumb, which rolled into Miss Major’s back legs. “ARTHUR!” his soldier ant teacher roared “How am I supposed to give you antlings a good grounding in food collection sites if we keep having to stop because YOU keep dropping your load? YOU ARE SO CLUMSY! Our colony’s future depends on you antlings learning to find, collect and carry food home to the nest!” Miss Major rambled on for sometime about teamwork, determination and other ant values, but Arthur’s mind had long since returned to the amazing structure back at the park. He thought he had heard one of the humans call it an auger, but that didn't matter.
What mattered was where it was, there right in the middle of something he recognised very well...a series of tunnels, TUNNELS just like those in the nest, just like…. “Arthur” whispered a voice which reminded him of that strange and beautiful musical instrument humans called a flute. “Pick up your crumb and come on before you get in any more trouble” said Guinevere encouragingly. Guinevere the only other thing that could completely occupy his scattered mind. “Greetings Arthur, Guinn”, said another familiar voice. “Merlin”, said Arthur smiling gratefully at the older ant. “Did you see that…?”
“Not now” said Merlin indicating Big Billy skulking nearby.
“That’s the fifth time this week I've asked you to clean your room! What’s the matter with you boy?” moaned Arthur’s father. Arthur wanted to say that he had cleaned it and that he was using everything he’d left out to work on his latest invention, but he knew that wouldn't go down well. How many times had he been told? “Forget these foolish dreams! ….focus on the task at hand….we all have a job to do for the survival of the colony and that DOES NOT include constantly dreaming of changing things which work perfectly well and HAVE DONE FOR CENTURIES!” Arthur knew the speech off by heart and could probably even mimic his father’s growing animation with each new word, so he kept silent and went to pack his sketches and tools. He was just pushing a box under his bed when his mother slipped silently into his room.
“Your time will come Arthur” she said “I know you'll do something great one day, your Dad just worries about you that’s all.” Arthur smiled weakly “I know mum, I'll try harder to help the colony.” Mum’s caress was as warm and welcome as sunshine after a long, cold winter’s night.