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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
The Antís Picnic

The Antís Picnic

"This is my favorite time of the year," exclaimed Albert Ant. "Thereís no better time than summer and do you know why?" he asked the others.

"Because itís hot?" answered Amanda.

"No, because in the summertime almost every family in town comes to the park for a picnic. You know what that means?" Albert said.

"I know," shouted Andrew. "It means Frisbees hitting our tree, balls rolling over us, and water balloons splashing and washing us into the mud."

"Youíre right about that, Andrew, but most of all it means food, lots and lots of food." Albert reminded them of last summer.

The rest of the ants that lived with Albert under the bark of the tall oak tree in the park began to scream, "Food! Food! Food!"

"Letís be sure to pick the right picnic people. We need to watch carefully to see who has the most," Arthur suggested.

The ants hid under the bark, waiting patiently as the first picnickers arrived. A small family was the first to arrive. The ants watched as they spread out a blanket on the grass. "I smell cheeseburgers and chips," whispered Alice. "Letís go!"

"Shhhh. Not yet. We can do better than this," Albert said, holding Alice back. So they waited and drooled as the family took the food out of the basket.

"I see lots of chips," Alan giggled.

"I see, and smell, at least five cheeseburgers," Adam said softly, "and I want them now!" He began to run down the tree.

"Adam, get back here. If you wait just a little while longer youíll get a feast beyond your imagination," Albert said.

Adam crawled back up the tree and sat near the rest of them. "Oh look, theyíve got milkshakes. I love milkshakes," he whimpered.

After a while the family left. The ants rushed down the oak tree to see if any crumbs were left lying about in the grass. There wasnít even one crumb. "Here come some more people. Letís get back up the tree fast!" Albert shouted. They watched as three grown-up people sat down under the tree. They had a picnic basket with them and this excited the ants.

"Theyíve got a basket too. That means they have a lot of food," Adela said, watching them open the lid.

Disappointment set in when they saw that all the people had brought were apples, bananas, grapes, a loaf of crusty French bread, and a bag filled with small cubes of cheese. "Apples? I hate apples," whined Afton.

"Fruit? Cheese? Why, there wonít be any crumbs left for us, except what falls of that loaf of bread," cried Amber.

"Be patient. I know a feast is coming soon. Whatís so bad about fruit and cheese anyway?" Albert asked.

The group waited for a chunk of bread to fall, but it didnít. After the picnic, the people cleaned up every scarp of garbage, including the banana peels and apple cores. It was about an hour before the next group showed up.

"I think weíve hit the jackpot!" Albert cheered.

At least ten people came. Three blankets were spread out on the grass under the oak tree. They carried two picnic baskets, a cooler of soda pop, a giant watermelon, and most of them had grocery bags in their hands. But the best thing was that there were six children. That mean six children dropping food and tossing unwanted bits and pieces into the bushes. Their whining would distract the grown-ups so the ants could sneak up and escape with a goodie or two.

"Okay group, hereís the plan. Weíre going to divide into six pairs. Each pair will be assigned a food to bring back to the tree. Got that?" Albert asked. He looked at them for approval. Nods showed him that they all agreed with the plan. "Adam and Amanda, you bring us back some fried chicken. It looks crispy, golden and juicy. Bring back at least one leg, if you can."

Adam and Amanda nodded, climbed down the tree and headed for the fried chicken. It had been placed on a plate right at the bottom of the oak tree. "This will be easy," Amanda said. "I saw we each take back a leg," she added, feeling confident about accomplishing their assignment.

"Aaron, Alice, your job is to get some of that delicious potato salad. It looks like itís full of celery, eggs, and lots of onions and olives. I can almost taste it already," Albert drooled. The two nodded and climbed down the tree. The potato salad was in a large, green, plastic bowl, and it was covered tightly with plastic wrap. Aaron and Alice knew this was going to be tough. First of all theyíd have to get up the sides of the slippery bowl and they theyíd have to figure out a way to get under the plastic wrap.

"Andrew and Afton, see that sack over there, near the picnic table? There is a large bag of potato crisps in it. As soon as they open it, you can grab as many as you can get and bring them back," Albert said and they quickly ran off. The families were spreading the food out and opening things from the bags; pretzels, cheese puffs, and corn chips, but the potato crisps were buried deep in the bottom of the bag. Andrew and Afton were going to have to be patient.

"What do you want us to do?" Alan asked, looking at Adele.

"See that barbecue grill over there?" Albert pointed. "They are grilling hamburgers and hot dogs. Anne and I will grab the hot dogs. You and Adele are to bring back some burgers, with buns, if possible."

The two ants were soon on their way towards the grill. Smoke was floating into the trees, stinging Adeleís eyes. "Come on, Adele. We canít let the ground down. Rub your eyes and letís get those burgers," Alan said. She wiped the smoke out of them as best she could and they continued down the tree.

"I almost forgot you two, Arthur and Amber. You are to get those big, gooey, chocolate brownies over there on the plate," Albert said. "Off with you now. I love brownies, donít you?" Arthur and Amber scurried down the tree and headed for the plate.

Each pair of ants went about their task. Adam and Amanda grabbed a chicken leg and carried it to the tree, stopping now and then to lick their hands. "I love chicken, especially when itís fried," Amanda said.

Aaron and Alice had a difficult time climbing up the sides of the green plastic bowl. Aaron slipped once and fell to the ground, nearly breaking off one of his antenna. When they reached the rim, Alice poked a hole in the plastic wrap with a stick and tore it big enough for them to scoop out some potato salad. Soon they were on their way back to the tree.

Andrew and Afton had sat for a long time waiting for the potato crisps to be opened. Finally one of the children grabbed the bag and sat underneath the picnic table. The ants thought that rather odd, but ran over there as quickly as possible. The child ripped the bag open and chips spilled all over the grass. They picked up as many of the salty crisps as they could carry and ran back to the tree.

Alan and Adele stood at the bottom of the barbecue grill, waiting for a juicy burger to fall to the ground. People always dropped at least one burger; always! It didnít take too long for it to happen. A man dropped one and it splattered on the ground right next to Alanís foot. Seeing that it was no longer edible, the man left it there. The ants grabbed pieces of it, even though it was a bit hot, and headed for the safety of the oak tree.

Arthur and Amber stood next to the plate with the brownies. "We must get one. I canít resist the smell of chocolate," Amber said.

"I hope there are nuts in them," Arthur added. They picked up the largest, gooiest, chocolatiest, nuttiest brownie they could find and carried it back to the tree.

Albert and Anne didnít have to wait for a hot dog to fall. By the time they arrived at the grill there were already three of them lying on the ground. They each picked one up and carried it back to the tree. The rest of the ants were already there with their goodies. They started eating the potato salad, the chicken, and brownies. The potato chips crunched in their mouths and they were all covered with chocolate from the brownies. When they finished, there wasnít one crumb of food left on the ground, except the bare chicken bone.

All the ants lay down on their backs, patting their very full tummies and smiling contentedly. By then the sun was beginning to set. They all fell asleep. A few hours later loud booms and screams of laughter awakened them. They jumped up to see what was going on.

"Look up in the sky!" shouted Alice.

"Itís fireworks," Amber laughed.

"Wow!" said Andrew.

For the next hour they sat in the tall grass, looking up through the tree at the many colored fireworks exploding above them. They enjoyed listening to the children laughing. "I love summer," Albert said. "Itís my favorite time of year."

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