The tiny hardworking ant dug with her legs into the sticky black mud covering the stone, and with a gigantic effort loaded the heavy fern leaf onto her back, staggered under the weight, and started walking towards the old oak where she had been born, a tree eaten away by the years and burnt by a lightning that struck during the summer’s last storm. She walked with a limp and slowly, struggling with her own legs while trying not to get trapped in the mud. She looked around, straightening her antennas. The humidity had stuck to her body, which shone like it was slick with oil. She kept going painfully slowly, and the small distance she had covered seemed like a great victory. She had lagged behind the long column that had departed at dawn to search for food, while trying to free the juicy leaf, which would prove useful at the end of the fall when the trees become bare, from the mud.
The sun had barely begun to warm the land and it cost her a supreme effort to reach her destination before noon. While making up her mind to the task, she had calculated all the time she would need: to move the leaf, to get it out of the mud, to load it onto her back, to unstick every one of her legs from the mud, to walk the whole way back, to fight against the mid-morning wind making her movements even more difficult. She felt safe, and capable of accomplishing her goal. She gathered all her strength, and step by step, began to approach the oak. There weren’t any predators in the surroundings and this made her feel more certain of her coming success. She reached the tree, completely exhausted, before eleven o’clock. Right before entering the cave, the index finger of the man who was resting there, and who had watched her since the very beginning, crushed her against a bare root.
Translated by: Xavier Noguer