Declan softly tapped his foot against the cool silver floor as he sat and waited for everything to become quiet again. He had been sitting quietly until he thought it might be safe to go outside and return to his home, and, to Declan, it felt as though he had been waiting forever.
Without warning, the ant suddenly felt a sharp pain in his third left foot. He stretched his leg much as he could, before getting up and trying to walk off the cramp.
When Declan first climbed into the red Coca Cola can, it was his stomach that had called to him. The smell of the sugary syrup had lured him as easily as his Uncle Joshua had tricked him last year with the fake birthday leaf. To be fair, Declan had thought that the silly plastic leaf was real, or he had until he'd tried to bite into it. Everyone had suddenly started laughing and Declan had felt his face become bright red as he blushed.
Afterwards, when everyone had gone home, his dad had sat down and talked with him. Declan had tried to hide how upset he was, but his father had been able to see his pain regardless. Even though his dad had been kind and even said that everyone at his party was laughing with him, Declan still felt that everyone was laughing at him and he was ashamed and embarrassed.
Declan scowled as he remembered his Uncle's cruel game. It wasn’t fair that everyone seemed to be in on the joke and he was the centre of attention yet again. Declan didn’t like being in the spotlight, even for a short while. In fact, if no one ever noticed him for the rest of his life, Declan would be the happiest ant in all of ant-dom.
He decided that he was old enough to find his own home, anyway. Maybe if he had a few wives and a couple of dozen kids, everyone would finally realise that he was all grown up and stop playing tricks on him. Declan plopped himself down and started contemplating who he could marry to prove his adultness.
He thought of some of the girls that he knew from school, but decided that they were too ‘girly and giggly’ for his liking. He wanted someone who would understand him, someone who wouldn’t make silly jokes or make fun of him.
The small ant sighed once more and bumped is head on the shiny wall behind him.
Declan was tired of waiting and wondered if it was safe outside. He crawled over to the open door of the can, to where he could see daylight. The ant slowly lifted his head until his antennae was just over the edge. Declan held his breath as he listened for the sounds of the huge human creatures who had bought the cool sweet drink with them.
When he was sure that all was quiet, Declan popped his head up and scanned the area for the humans. He could see a huge creature with brown fur nearby. This furry animal was running around with a round, green thing in its mouth. The human creatures that he could see were making all sorts of gurgling sounds and were chasing the furry creature.
Declan decided that this was the best possible time for him to make his escape. He knew that it wouldn’t take much for him to reach the grass that was his refuge. Once outside, he would be able to walk amongst the tall trees of grass blades and make his way home. Declan was just about to step out of the open door when one of the human creatures bent down and took hold of his silver can. The ant tried to get a foothold but was unable to hold on and went sliding around on the smooth surface inside the can.
He slipped around until his silver confinement came to a blissful stop. Declan took several deep breaths to settle his stomach and blinked rapidly in an attempt to refocus his eyes. When the dizziness finally left him, Declan listened again for sounds outside the cola can.
He walked to the open door of the can once more and popped his head out. Declan was surprised, to say the least, when he saw that he was high in the air. He looked around and saw there were other cans and papers surrounding him. Hundreds of other ants were walking in and out of the papers and cans and food scraps that surrounded his own Coca Cola can.
The small ant had never seen anything like it before in his life. There was an abundance of food and drink and it was all around him! Declan was sure he had died and was now in Heaven.
He climbed out of his cola can and quickly made his way over to a piece of brown bread, breaking off a portion and nibbling on a corner of it. The ant was so engrossed in the unusual taste that he didn’t notice his name being called.
He turned around and was surprised to see his Uncle Joshua.
“What are you doing here, my boy?” his uncle asked, not noticing the dumbfounded expression on his nephew's face.
“I…I don’t know,” Declan stammered. “One minute I was about to leave to go home and the next minute, I am here, in Heaven.” He stopped and thought for a minute before asking a question. “Uncle Joshua, is this really Heaven? And am I dead?”
His uncle laughed before becoming very serious. “No Declan. You aren’t dead and this isn’t Heaven,” he took one mighty foot and slapped Declan on the back almost knocking him to the ground, “but it’s pretty close to Heaven on Earth my boy!”
“Do you live here, Uncle Joshua?” Declan asked as he struggled to stand up straight again.
“No. I wish I did live here, but I'm afraid that your Aunt Millie might not approve,” the older ant grinned and winked. “I do, however, visit here often.” Uncle Joshua tipped his head toward a group of female ants who were sitting around chatting and sipping lemon soda out of a bottle top. “You can come here and visit too, if you would like,” his uncle offered.
“Yes, I would like,” Declan answered. His uncle seemed nicer, somehow. Maybe he realised that Declan was no longer a child. Surely, Declan mused, his uncle must know that Declan was almost all grown up. He puffed out his chest in pride as he realised his Uncle saw him as a man ant.
“Good. Good!” Uncle Joshua slapped Declan on the back once more. “Now as soon as you have finished eating, I’ll show you the easy way to get home.”
"Thank you Uncle Joshua.” Declan shoved the last piece of bread into his mouth and chewed quickly. He was now a man and he knew that his uncle wouldn’t play anymore mean tricks on him.
“That sure is one chewy piece of bread,” his uncle mused.
Declan nodded and kept chewing.
“Especially seeing as it isn’t bread.” Declan stopped chewing and spat out the glob that was once in his mouth. “It is what the human creatures call ‘chewing gum’. And it sure is chewy!” His uncle laughed and laughed. Maybe Declan wasn’t so grown up after all.
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