I marched along with the other ants, our straight-lined ordered file heading steadily for the exit of the Hill.
“Imagine you and me crawling out like this side by side, away from the restrictions of this Hill.” I whispered to Zita, thrilled to have her at my side.
“Zoro, you shouldn’t be here.” Zita whispered back, not taking her eyes from Giba in front of her. “Drones are not allowed in this march and you know it.”
She was right of course. Workers were on a march to find and bring back food and only Workers were allowed no one else… least of all a Drone. But I didn’t care. I hadn’t seen my Zita in days and I’d be damned if the fear of Kaza, or of death, would prevent me from being by her side now.
“Let me worry about where I should or shouldn’t be.” I said flippantly. “You look more beautiful than ever, all glimmering and shiny.”
“Azzz, Zoro be quiet.” Zita flicked her antennae in a nonchalant manner but I knew that my words had touched her.
“I dreamt of you last night. We were dancing in the moonlight, and your skin glowed ever so brightly in the brimming moonlight.”
“That was a nightmare, Zoro.”
“No, a dream. One that I long to come true.” I inched closer. “A dream we can make come true, Zita.”
“Tired of living, Zoro?” Poki asked from behind me.
I sighed. Poki was a nosy and interfering ant.
“I’m assuming you must be since you are here at the risk of Kaza finding you and having your drone head.” Poki continued, sparing me a glance as she marched along.
I didn’t need the distraction or a nosy ant finding me out, so I ambled over to her side. “Oh Poki, I was just telling Zita how beautiful you Workers are.” I trilled in a low voice. “And especially… you.” The last was said in a tone aimed to flatter.
Her antennae flustered and she made a whistling sound. Poki had a weakness for compliments, every ant in the colony knew it and it was most often a source of fun and amusement.
“You said that to Zita?” Poki twisted her head to look at me. “I thought I’d heard something about ‘shiny’ and I wondered if you…”
“I meant you. Your skin glitters so.” I cut in. “I wonder how you maintain it.”
“I do what I can.” Poki moved her head to one side and straightened her frame. “An ant must always be clean and groomed.”
“Indeed.” I nodded, staring desperately forward, the ants in the front line were already touching the tip of the Hill. “I had a dream about the brood last night.” I said to Poki. “It appeared like their lives were in danger.”
“What?” Poki’s antennae trembled in shock.
“Which is why I need to speak with Zita.” I continued, needing to get back to my love.
“You should be speaking to Doga not Zita.” Poki counselled, still visibly shaken.
“I dare not approach Doga, she overwhelms me with her big head.” I excused feigning a shudder. “I’ll just allow Zita to tell her since she takes care of the broods.”
“Well, you could have gone to the Nursery and spoken with Kiki.” Poki looked at me curiously. “It’s safer as Doga’s wrath is nothing compared to Kaza’s.”
“You know how self-righteously accurate Kiki is.” I ventured. “It’d be a lot easier talking with Zita.”
That worked as I’d hoped it would.
“You do have a point there about our all-knowing Kiki.” Poki turned up her antennae in a somewhat sneering manner. She was envious of Kiki and couldn’t stand her. “You should hurry then, Kaza’s sharp eyes may fall on you anytime now.”
“I’ll do as you say, Poki. Thank you.” My tone was laced in gratitude as I hurriedly marched forward.
“Through with whispering sweet nonsense into Poki’s ears?” Zita demanded once I was beside her again.
“Not jealous, are you?” I teased.
“Zzzz, jealous over who—Poki?” Zita asked haughtily. “Tak.” She dismissed.
“I may whisper sweet nonsense into Poki’s or any other ant’s ears but I only whisper words of love into your ears.” I leaned closer. “I love you, Zita. You are the life within me.” I saw her antennae frisk and titter. “Meet me by the Drone chamber after your march.” I flapped my wings. “I shall be waiting with my head full of images of you.”
I flew off even before she could respond. When I turned, our eyes met and held for the briefest second before she turned to step through the open tilting exit.