They were in their resting chamber, having just returned from moving the larvae deep into the nest, to shield them from the cold.
Zita 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 turnedd her head to face Kiki. “Why would you assume I’m thinking about Zoro, or any other Drone for that matter?” She asked, a little indignant. “It is not my duty to attend to Drones.”
“I didn’t say you were thinking of other Drones.” Kiki rejoined. “I asked if you were thinking of Zoro.” She 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 gleamed now with interest.
“I thought you were not thinking of him?” Kiki teased. “Why then the sudden spark of interest?”
Zita made a whistle 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 you are dying to tell me this all-important thing Zoro had said,” Zita made sure her eyes were turned away in obvious 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. “I do believe the day’s work must have tired you out, and I suggest we get some rest.”
“Zita,” Kiki called in a solemn voice. “Zoro didn’t say anything much. Just wanted to know where you were.” She drew closer to Zita. “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 her eyes filled with worry. “He told you that?” Her antennae trembled as she stared at Kiki.
“Yes he did.” Kiki confirmed. “And what worries me is that he sounded quite serious too.”
Zita whistled in exasperation. “He shouldn’t have told you that.”
“And why not?” Kiki demanded, somewhat miffed. “You think I will report you and him for any wrong doing?”
“Azzzz Kiki, of course not.” Zita 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 looked at Kiki her dark eyes filmy with worry.
“He asked me to go out in the field with him.” Zita responded softly.
“That was my reaction too.” Zita said defensively. “And I totally refused of course.” She added.
“Azzz! I see clearly that he suffers from some thinking disease.” Kiki retorted. “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 everyday 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 wailed. “Azzz, now we have a colony filled with 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, I rolled and twisted, restless, as thoughts of Zita reeled like an unsettled air in my head. My entire being longed for her… Zita!