There's One on Your Chair

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

My mother and I were sitting in the magazine lounge of a library we had never been in before. We were waiting for my daughter to learn how to play chess because when you homeschool, you enroll your kids in strategic board game workshops led by cheerful retirees.

It’s in the handbook.

Fifteen minutes in, I noticed a little black fluff on the water bottle wedged in the outer pocket of my backpack. I could have left it alone but my phone battery was dying so I was looking for something else to do.

I leaned over to brush it off and that’s when I saw six tiny legs, which was precisely six legs more than I expected to find on a piece of lint.


“There’s an ant on my bag.” 

My mother didn’t flinch. I flicked the little body away only to have another appear in its place. I pinged the second one off and saw four more. It was like I was John Connor and they were all tiny Terminators. 

By this time my mom had set down her periodical and was inspecting the floor where my bag had been.

Not an ant in sight. Nothing.

Mind you, the dark gray, carpeted flooring made it impossible to see anything except maybe a pile of marshmallows or a white cat, neither of which were available to us at the time.

Well played aging public library building. Well played.

Flick, flick, squish. 

I threw my bag, my coat and my scarf onto the table with the sewing machine because someone else was using the one with the weaving loom. I then proceeded to empty the contents of my carry-all.

“There’s one on your chair.”

Those five words were all I needed to hear to start disrobing and dancing in front of the latest issue of The Economist. Fortunately, I had dressed in layers.

The other people in the room didn’t flinch. They just sat at their tables, reading or writing, which made me realize I am seriously lacking the dedication necessary to work my way through any task without becoming completely and totally distracted.

Case in point: the little black fluff.

Fortunately, there were no ants inside my knapsack, which meant I was not the source of the infestation. Probably. But that didn’t matter because by the time I had removed twenty bugs from the outside of my bag, two from my boots, and two from my scarf that had been laying on the floor, I was ready to burn down the entire building and all of its contents in an effort to save humankind.

Instead my mom and I left the magazine lounge and wandered over to the children’s section.

As I pretended to look at titles like Toes in My Nose and The Snowsuit I became convinced that there were itchy beasts crawling all over my body which prompted my mom to say, “Stop scratching, you look like you have fleas."

We decided not to tell the librarian about the ants in case she thought we brought the bugs with us, which – to be fair – is how it appeared at the time.

Once the chess lesson was over, we all went home where I immediately stripped down to my underwear much to the surprise of my husband who was busy making a sandwich.

Later, as I recounted the horror to my friend Sharon via messenger, she wondered if perhaps I had brought all of this on myself, which admittedly, explained so much.

No, really.