“Don’t run over the ant family!” 11-year-old Jane Johnson yelled at her 12-year-old friend and neighbor, Raymond Rocky.
“What? They’re only ants! Who cares? I like playing with your wagon,” he said, rolling down her driveway.
The brightly painted red wagon was Jane’s birthday gift from Raymond, but she thought he liked it more than she did.
“You have to remember the little people!” Jane said, scooping up the family of ants into the palm of her hand. “Did you know there are such things as fire ants and honey ants?” she said, studying the ants she was holding.
“And I love the beetles, and lady bugs, and grasshoppers,” Jane said, scouring the driveway for more insects.
“Your wagon is like the Car of Juggernaut,” Raymond said. “It crushes anything in its path! Like a steamroller!”
“Don’t you have any mercy?” Jane said, pushing him out of her wagon onto the pavement and taking back her wagon. “This is my gift. You’re not running anybody over anymore!” she said, making sure she didn’t hit bugs with the wheels.
As Jane walked inside her garage, she shut the large, rolling door with the push of a button and put her wagon away. “Mom! I need to start an ant farm!” Jane said. “Raymond is trying to run over all the ants with my wagon.”
“How many insects do you think large, heavy trucks run over in a day? Jane, there is no ant farm,” her mom said. “When we back out of the driveway with the cars, don’t you think we hit the ants? Better than them eating us!”
“But my wagon is reckless and unstoppable!” Jane said. “It’s almost like a battering ram to those poor, little insects. According to our science teacher, insects are animals with six legs. They have a hard outer shell called an exoskeleton.”
“Well, just go in your room, and do your science homework for the night,” Mrs. Johnson said. “You’re bugging me!”
“I have to think of a way to save the ants in the driveway,” Jane whispered to herself. “I would never run over my dog.”
Pepper, Jane’s tiny black and white dog, barked and jumped on her bed, licking her hands where the ants crawled.
“Yuck! Don’t eat them, Pepper,” Jane said. “Maybe the way to save the ants and start a farm is to cover them in chocolate! I did once hear of chocolate-covered ants, but I’ve never tasted them. At least this way, they can hide in the sugar, and people won’t step on them. This is the best solution that I can think of right now . . .”
So, during the middle of the night, when her parents were fast asleep, she snuck into the kitchen and got all the chocolate out of the refrigerator: chocolate syrup, chocolate butter, chocolate bars, chocolate pudding, and chocolate powder.
Then she dilly-dallied into the driveway and spread as much chocolate as she could over the insects, especially the ants. She worked on the chocolate driveway until the wee hours of the morning, until she decided to take the last bits of chocolate and cover the strawberries in the refrigerator. While eating the strawberries, she considered that her parents’ cars might get chocolate on their tires.
“Hope the chocolate doesn’t cause a problem for the cars,” she whispered to herself.
As she slipped back to her bedroom, she shut her eyes until the sun shined through the bedroom windows.
“Jane! Did you eat all the chocolate last night? What a midnight snack!” her mom called down the hall.
“Sort of! Did Dad leave for work already? Maybe he should take the bus today!” Jane said.
“Why would I do that?” her dad said, popping his head in her bedroom as she woke up for the morning.
“Just in case chocolate gets on the tires!” she said, yawning and sitting up in bed.
“What?” her dad said, moving the curtain and looking out the window to the driveway. “Why is there chocolate all over the driveway?” her dad said in a strong tone.
“I just didn’t want the ants and insects to get run over, and I thought they might be considered special if they were covered in chocolate,” Jane said, noticing that she had chocolate on the ends of her hair in tangles. “Then the ants will never be run over by my wagon or anything else!”
“Who in the world gave you this idea?” her mother said, getting out a bucket of water to rinse the driveway.
“No! Don’t do that,” Jane said. “Maybe the driveway could just be the chocolate ant farm. I think they have started to build a little hill by the side of the grass. They really need a nice home. What would we do without ants?”
“I will tolerate the chocolate ant farm until it rains,” Jane’s father said, biting his lip and holding back his anger.
“It had better rain tomorrow,” Mrs. Johnson said, turning on the radio to hear the weather forecast for the week. By the time the rains came, the ants had built up a castle in the driveway, never to be washed away.
“Don’t you touch those chocolate ants, Raymond,” Jane yelled at him. “They are way too special to be squashed.”
Jane only rode her wagon through the halls of her parents’ home with Pepper, where she was sure there were no ants. As for Raymond, he still ran over everything in his path, unless Jane stopped him first, which was often.
Copyright 2016 Jennifer Waters