Once upon a time, in a wall far from where you live, a colony of ants were completing their daily duties. Some were gathering food while others were maintaining the nest or speaking with their Queen. Day in and day out, the ants were so preoccupied with their duties, that most of them failed to notice that Spider had been living amongst them for the past several months.
While attending Spider School, Spider enjoyed being taught how to build webs and move at incredible speeds, though he didn’t feel right about working alone or having to trap flies or grasshoppers. While on his way to school one day, he saw a trail of ants heading into the wall of a house. He loved the way the ants walked in groups and saw that one of them was carrying a large piece of biscuit. He decided to follow them instead of going to school.
Spider copied the way the ants walked in lines and quickly learned to speak a little bit of their language, using two of his front feet to touch their feelers and communicate with them. Though he was careful not to give himself away, Spider was able to work amongst the ants and take part in their celebrations whenever one of them discovered an abandoned sweet or a leftover piece of birthday cake in the kitchen. A spider’s life can be a very lonely life, he thought while celebrating with his ant friends.
By pretending to be an ant, Spider was able to live in the colony for many months. Over this time, however, he continued to grow and some of the ants were now whispering to each other about his size. Ants that used to be his friends started playing with other ants, and he was no longer invited on their marches to find food. Soon, cleaning the rooms in the nest was his only responsibility. Worms and grasshoppers were being served to him and he pretended to be ill to avoid eating them, causing the ants to question whether or not Spider belonged in their colony at all.
Just as he thought his time with the ants had come to an end, The Queen summoned Spider to her chambers. Spider crawled into The Royal Chambers with his head bowed low.
“You wanted to see me, My Queen?” Spider said softly.
“There is talk, my dear ant, that you are not who you say you are.” Spider kept his head low.
“This is true,” he answered through the lump in his throat.
“Let me ask you a question,” The Queen insisted, walking in a circle around Spider. “What makes you think you are not an ant?” Spider thought for a moment. “Well, ants are small.”
The Queen nodded. “A flea is small, yet it is not an ant,” she replied. “What else?”
“Ants eat sugar and work together for many hours a day. I am not meant to eat sugar and should be working alone.”
“Many other animals also eat sugar and work well together, yet they are not ants.”
Spider watched The Queen’s feet as she continued another lap around him. “Then it is my legs that give me away. I have eight long legs while ants have only six.”
“After some of our battles,” The Queen began, “Many of our ants come back with less than their six legs. Are you suggesting that they are no longer ants?”
Spider knew that there must be differences, though he struggled to put them into words.
The Queen stopped in front of Spider and lifted his head with one of her front legs, “You must look in your heart and see what it says,” The Queen advised. “You may find that you are unhappy here. If so, you are free to go and be who you wish to be. But, be warned, if you stay, you have a responsibility to prove you are part of the colony.” Spider left The Royal Chambers feeling more confident than he ever had before.
Word of The Queen’s acceptance of Spider spread through the colony and the ants started trusting him once again. He worked hard, using his ability to jump higher and move faster to gather hard-to-reach food and catch insects for everyone to eat. Over time, Spider proved that he could make the colony a better place and most of the ants accepted him for who he was.
Because of this, every time an ant would question why Spider should be allowed to stay, The Queen would reply, “Prove to me that we would be better off without him, and I will ask him to leave.” As these ants could not provide an answer, Spider stayed and, despite having to eat the occasional grasshopper, he lived a fulfilling life as the ant he always wanted to be.
My name is Gregg Savage and, every night when the house is quiet, I write and publish a free children’s story at dailytales.com.au for you to share and enjoy.
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