**ZITA & KIKI**
THEY were in their resting chamber, having just returned from moving the larvae deep into the nest, to shield them from the cold. Zita’s eyes were turned towards the small light slipping in through the top of the hill, quiet and pensive.
“Are you thinking about Zoro?” Kiki’s voice broke into her thoughts.
Zita’s antennae jerked in a mild shock.
She turned her head to face Kiki. “Why would you assume I’m thinking about Zoro, or any other Drone for that matter?” Her tone was a touch indignant. “It is not my duty to attend to Drones.”
“I didn’t say you were thinking of other Drones.” Kiki returned. “I asked if you were thinking of Zoro.” She rose to her legs and ambled closer. “You were, weren’t you?”
“Of course I wasn’t.” Zita denied. “Why should I think of him?”
Kiki ignored the defensive question. “He came over to the Nursery to see you.” She said instead.
“He came to see me at the Nursery?” Zita’s eyes sparked up with interest.
“I thought you were not thinking of him?” Kiki teased. “Why then the sudden spark of interest?”
Zita made a whistling sound of indifference. “Please, I’m only surprised to hear he’d come over to the Nursery.”
“So you wouldn’t like to hear what he said?”
Kiki’s tone was mocking and much as Zita wanted to ignore her, she longed to hear what Zoro had said, such a pity she hadn’t been there to hear him herself.
“Kiki, you know, and I know, that you are dying to tell me whatever is this thing Zoro must have said,” Zita made sure her eyes were turned away in a mode of disinterest. “So just say it at once and give yourself some rest.”
Kiki whistled in merriment. “Oh Zita, you were always a bad liar.”
“Liar? And who says I’m lying?” Zita pushed up to her six legs, annoyed. “I do believe the day’s work must have tired you out, and I suggest we get some rest.”
“Zita.” Kiki called now in a solemn voice. “Zoro didn’t say anything much. Just wanted to know where you were. The question is, what has he been saying to you?”
As Zita flicked her antennae in irritation, Kiki added quietly. “And there’s no need for pretence. He’d already told me that he loved you.”
Zita’s turned swiftly to face Kike with eyes filled with worry. “He told you that?” Her antennae trembled with a feeling of shock.
“Yes he did.” Kiki confirmed. “And what worries me is that he sounded quite serious too.”
“He shouldn’t have told you that.” Zita whistled in exasperation.
“And why not?” Kiki demanded, somewhat miffed. “You think I will report you and him for any wrongdoing?”
“Azzz Kiki, of course not.” Zita’s tone was reproving. “I know you won’t do that. I’m just worried about what Zoro is saying that’s all.”
“And what is he saying?”
Zita only stared at Kiki, her dark eyes filmy with worry.
“He asked me to go out in the field with him.” Zita finally responded.
“That was my reaction too.” Zita said defensively. “And I totally refused to do so, of course.” She added.
“Azzz! I see clearly that he suffers from some thinking disease.” Kiki creaked. “And so are you if you dare consider it.”
“I said I refused, didn’t I?”
“Yet you lay here thinking about him.” Kiki hissed. “And don’t deny it, you were thinking about him.”
“Well, why not? Zita lifted her antennae in defiance. “It’s not every day an ant shows interest in me.”
“Zita!” Kiki cried out in sharp tone. “He’s a Drone. He was born and destined to fly out and mate with a Princess and die.”
“I know.” Zita’s voice was also sharp. “But I just can’t help how I feel.”
“You feel?” Kiki whirred. “Azzz! Now we have a colony filled with a new undiscovered disease.” She banged her head against the hard ground. “Zita, we are ants… we don’t feel.”
Zita heard the exasperated words but the emotions churning inside her tiny frame just failed to register them.
INSIDE my chamber, unaware of the exchange going on at the other end of the ant hill, I rolled and twisted with restlessness, my thoughts filled with Zita and my feelings reeling like an unsettled air in my head.
My entire being longed for her… Zita!