Leftovers / Isabel Greerer

Ants moved into the house the winter after he moved out. A single scout unobtrusively checked the terrain, then returned with an invasion. They crawled out of the tub drain like cockroaches, framed windows and doors, clogged cracks and crevices.

She fought them off with bleach, feeling it was less toxic than bug spray, and searched for what they were after. No one was making a mess but her. She kept the crumbs swept off the floor; washed, dried, and put away dishes after using them, usually eating over the sink before and after work.

The last thing she saw, leaving every morning, was the relentless barrage of ants marching single file across the welcome mat, entering the house through a hidden chink in the weather stripping around the front door. In the evening, she wiped away trails of ants streaming in from every entry point in the house, scoured the toilet and tub, wiped the sink and mirror, and combed the rest of the house for whatever was drawing them till bed.

Saturday morning, she pulled his mug from the cabinet. The one that kept coffee hot the longest. She used to try to get it before he woke up. She sat at the table wondering what to do. The refrigerator hummed. No one needed anything from her. Contemplating the cruelty of abandoning one’s favorite receptacle, she took a sip. Inside, an ant floated like a stray coffee ground.

Looking up from the mug, she saw ants in a single, stitched seam bordered the hall. She followed them to the bedroom closet, and opened the door. Ants unraveled flesh from not-so-dry bones. The empty eye sockets of her former self glared. She shut the door.

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