Survival

It was one of those nights in the mountains where you couldn't tell whether the smoke in the air was from a charcoal grill or a campfire. The sun stayed up long enough for parents to tell their kids to go to bed but not long enough to keep anyone else awake.

Our campfire was contributing to the smoke. We had shooed the ants off of our marshmallows and were now roasting them, letting them burn then drip, gooey into the fire, just for fun. No one really wanted to eat another sweet, sticky treat, not after the ants had been discovered. But we were entranced by the flaming goo, by having the power to make something burn.

A while later, after we had exhausted our supply of marshmallows; Jared put another log on the fire. We all laughed as Jared jumped away from the fire, cursing as the steam from the green log boiled up onto his hands. After the hissing and cursing had subsided, I noticed ants walking off the log, scrambling to avoid the flames. Jared had thrust their home into the fire. There was no way to remove the log, but I still called out to the others, letting them know of the ants' grim fate. And we watched the ants, filing out of the log, one by one being roasted to death. That's how we spent the rest of the night, sitting in silence around the fire, watching our former enemies die a slow painful death, mesmerized by the power of the fire.

Finally, the fire died down, Karen dumped water of the coals, drowning any life that remained. We all stood up, squinting at the sudden darkness, wincing at the sudden silence. Then Jared called out, "Damn! I think something bit me."

We gathered round fearing bees or snakes. Someone found a flashlight and pointed it on Jared's tan and dirty calf. Then, Karen started to laugh, pointing at a dark moving spec on Jared's leg. It was an ant.