The Artistic Anteater
While walking across the Llanos one soggy morning with her family looking for fresh anthills, Alice started daydreaming again of being a great artist. Ever since she saw a visitor’s sketches of her and her family two years ago, all she wanted to be was an artist.
“Anteaters can’t be artists,” her mother said.
Her brothers mocked her, and her father was disappointed, but Alice dreamt nonetheless. She could be an artist if she wanted to, she often thought on their long walks looking for food, all she needed was a chance to prove that she could be one. At night when everyone else was settling down for bed, she would trace pictures in the dirt with her muzzle. She was getting better every night, but no one cared by morning.
“Alice,” her mother called, but she didn’t answer.
“ALICE!” her father shouted, jolting her from the daydream.
“Get your lunch before they all run away,” he said.
“Honestly, dear, I don’t know where your head is sometimes,” her mother added.
There were not many ants left for Alice by the time she joined her family, but that didn’t bother her. She was more interested in the human sitting on the ground by the mound watching them. She watched as he took out a sketch pad and quickly sketched the scene before him. This was it! This was her big break. Alice posed as still as she could, but he didn’t seem to notice her. She walked closer and still he didn’t pay attention to her.
“Get away from that!” he father yelled.
“Ah, but Dad—”
“Don’t you ‘but Dad’ me, young lady! Those things only bring danger! NOW!”
The family moved on to their late summer home where the Llanos melded into the rainforest. She was the last one awake as usual and as she was tracing in the dirt, she heard strange noises coming from nearby. With a quick look at her sleeping family, she headed out to find the source of the new sounds.
They were emanating from inside a strange cave she had never seen before. The human exited the cave and stumbled around while drinking from his hand. Humans were very strange creatures indeed. He fell on the ground and started snoring. Her father snored too, which often kept her awake all night. She poked her head into the cave and became excited. Everything she needed to become an artist was inside, just waiting for her to find them. The human wouldn’t mind, would he?
Alice found an open can of paint, dipped her muzzle in the cool liquid and started painting. She painted the ground, the human’s bag, anything and everything she could find. While painting a bush, it suddenly stirred, and screamed. Alice tried to flee from the screaming human, but her back paw lodged itself in a can of paint. While trying to get that off, the screaming human stood up, scaring Alice who ran around the cave ramming into everything trying to find the exit. Paint and paper stuck to her, as flashes of light blinded her.
After what felt like hours, Alice finally found the cave entrance again and ran for her life. The screaming human could be heard all the way back to where her family was stirring with all the racket.
“What in the – “ her father muttered in disbelief.
“Oh, my,” her mother added.
Alice’s brothers and sisters were laughing at her, making her cry. Her parents didn’t yell but chuckled lightly as they took her down to the creek to wash off.
“Still want to be an artist?” her mother asked, washing behind Alice’s ears.
“No, Mom. I think I’ve had enough of being an artist to last me a lifetime.”
Her parents smiled. “Probably for the best,” her dad said.
When morning came, Alice and her family were gone, leaving only one frightened human trying to explain that a crazy anteater came into the tent and destroyed everything. The snoring man did not find it as funny as Alice’s parents did.