Iowa Writes

The Ant Killer (Part 2)

Bud, who had been watching a ladybug carefully climb over a pink rose, stared at the spot. He was confused. There was nothing there, and he told her as much. She was not ready to let it go.
"Anyone can see there's a hole forming. There's probably an entire network of ants under there, just waiting to chew the leaves off all of my plants. I've worked hard for this garden, Bud. Too hard to just see it go to waste. The whole thing will die if it's not properly taken care of."

He was angry now too. How dare she, after he had spent half a day killing ants, digging into the beds to sprinkle poison, sustaining more than a few ant bites in the process. "Now listen, I worked hard yesterday. I did everything you asked and killed all those ants. It was a massacre! Your garden is fine. If it dies, it's your own fault, not mine!"

Bud stood and started walking away down the stone path. Her next words hit him square in the back.

"You're the worst ant killer I've ever seen. If one leaf in this garden so much as withers, I am holding you responsible. You need to fix this, Bud. Fix it! It's all on your head now."

He turned around, ready to fire back, but Marie's stance stopped him. She was still clutching the honeysuckle, trying to form a fist with her other hand. Her chin was up, indignant, but her lips were quivering and her nose was red. For the first time, she couldn't hold back the tears. Bud made his way back to Marie, grabbed her, and held on tight. Her tears stained his shirt. He could smell the honeysuckle crushed in her hand.

"I'm sorry, Marie. I'll take care of this ant bed tomorrow and make sure there are no more. Please don't worry, your garden will be alright."

They stayed in each other's arms until dusk, the sky pink and purple and gold above them. There was nothing left to say, only that last embrace under a perfect sky.

Bud did not want to go on living without her. He had prayed that whatever God was out there would take him at the same time, but his prayer hadn't worked. He systematically made the funeral arrangements, if only to busy himself. The service only lasted half an hour, and he walked the half mile back to their home, to her garden, straight to the honeysuckle fence. The dewdrops on the flowers resembled her tears, and for a moment he wondered if she was there.

The sun shone on that cool morning, touching every plant in the garden. There was still life here, he thought. Life that Marie had planted, nourished, and kept alive. For as long as he could, he would keep that garden alive for her. She would forever live in those flowers and trees, and he didn't want to miss a second of it.

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting


Sara Springfield Schmit is a writer, editor, and owner of Keep Calm. Edit On. editing services.

The Ant Killer was published on the Daily Palette in two parts.  You can find Part 1 on yesterday's page.

This page was first displayed
on October 07, 2015

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