Iowa Writes

The Ant Killer (Part 1)

Bud knew she was gone before he opened his eyes. He could just feel it. The air felt different, the sheets felt different, his mind was numb. He gently touched the top of her cold hand and held it for awhile, thinking back to the day before, to the argument they'd had. It made her seem more alive, as if he could just glance out the window into the garden and there she would be, waiting for him.

The day before, Marie wanted to walk around her garden to inspect for ant beds. At age ninety, she still gardened, with the help of a few local kids, and everything was in full bloom. The lemon and lime trees were bursting with flowers, and their citrusy scent spread throughout the entire backyard. The oak trees provided shade for the large pots of fuchsia bougainvillea and the massive green hostas underneath. Tiny marigolds and zinnias were just beginning to sprout from the ground. Bees hummed around the red, pink, and deep orange roses that dotted the garden. When she reached the back fence, Marie grabbed a handful of the honeysuckle that grew over it and inhaled deeply. It was her favorite scent in the world. She had worn a small bunch of honeysuckle in her hair the day she married Bud, and made him wear another bunch in the lapel of his blue plaid shirt, the nicest thing he owned at the time. He'd brought her vases of honeysuckle and rose blossoms every time she gave birth, every time she accomplished a goal, and every time he just wanted to say he loved her.

She glanced at him over the top of the flowers, his blue eyes still bright among the craggy wrinkles covering his face. He smiled at her and sat down on a small bench next to the honeysuckle fence.

"Marie, the garden is beautiful. You amaze me more and more every year, but I think this year we have the best flowers yet. You've put so much of yourself into this place, and it really shows."

Marie looked at her proud husband admiring his surroundings. The garden was truly remarkable this year. Different, more lush and alive than usual. She turned away, suddenly angry. Burning tears threatened her eyes, but instead of letting them fall, she pointed to a spot on the ground. Jaw set, face flushed, she turned back to Bud.

"Look at that. Look at it! I thought I told you to get rid of all the ant beds yesterday. Well, what is that?"

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting


Sara Springfield Schmit is a writer, editor, and owner of Keep Calm. Edit On. editing services.

The Ant Killer will be published on the Daily Palette in two parts.  Be sure to check back tomorrow for Part 2!

This page was first displayed
on October 06, 2015

Find us on Facebook