By Ashleigh / Sep 29, 2022
She was laughing, but it abruptly stopped when she watched him shove his hands into the dirt beneath the anthill. Watching him destroy it was a horrific sight, and she felt helpless.
But that feeling faded away when he showed her what was inside the anthill, and it was something that would change everything for her.
Jill Bauer thought that her Saturday morning would be a peaceful one. She would wake up at noon and enjoy a lazy Saturday under a blanket in front of a movie. But her morning wouldn’t start so nice.
She’d be woken up by her neighbor doing work in his yard. but what was he doing?
Jill was an extremely light sleeper and this Saturday morning was no exception. So when her neighbor started his business in his yard she was immediately woken up by it. He wasn’t even being too loud.
But when she looked out of her window it wouldn’t be the noise that concerned her but what her neighbor was doing.
Jill didn’t know much about her neighbor ever since he had moved in a few months ago. He seemed conserved and quiet but that didn’t bother her. He seemed relatively ordinary, he’d leave for work at 8 in the morning and come back at 6 every weekday and on the weekends he’d mow his lawn – the noise that always woke Jill up.
But what Jill saw was anything but ordinary when she peered into his yard.
A Strange Delivery
Jill noticed a delivery arrive the day before, a single bag was delivered, was it fertilizer? She didn’t pay it much attention before but now she wondered if it had something to do with what he was doing on a Saturday morning.
She noticed the bag in his yard but he had clearly already used some of it.
Jill watched as her neighbor took something shiny out of his house in a bucket. It was strange because it looked like a liquid but it was silver. It was now clear it was from the bag but he must have been melted to become a liquid.
What kind of plans did he have for it and what was this mysterious liquid?
After watching him she now understood what the liquid was – Aluminium. He had bought a bag of aluminum to use in his yard. But there were still so many questions to be answered.
The number one question on her mind was why was he melting it and what was it for? But soon she would find out the harrowing truth.
She couldn’t believe what she watched him do next. He walked up to an anthill in his yard and started pouring the liquid metal into the anthill. Why was he doing this? Was he just a cruel man?
She understood ants in the summer can be a problem but why would he not use a more humane method? But she had no idea that the man’s motives were different from what she thought.
Jill decided that she had to do something. This just wasn’t humane. She didn’t care of they were just ants, they were still living things. She got dressed, ate breakfast, and marched out of her door towards his yard.
She was going to give him a piece of her mind.
Jill popped her head over their fence and got her neighbor’s attention. He slowly walked up to her with a smile until he saw her temper. She told him that he was being cruel and that he had to stop.
The man’s eyes went wide in confusion as he looked back at the anthill. He then looked back at her and laughed. Was he mocking her?
The man told her to watch what he was about to do next. He walked back to the anthill and started to crack it open. Jill’s pulse started racing. Why was he destroying the anthill and what about the ants?
But she wasn’t ready for what she would see once he opened up the mound of dirt.
The cooled-off aluminum showed exactly what all of the tunnels looked like inside the anthill. It was beautiful. He smiled at her and explained that the anthill was vacant and that in his free time he used aluminum to make art that could also be highly educational.
But when he revealed what he did Jill was in disbelief.
The neighbor revealed to Jill that he was a professor at a nearby elementary school and liked to make models of ant tunnels. The best and most accurate way to do this was to pour liquid metal into the anthill. He would always make sure they were empty.
Jill felt silly for confronting the professor but he was understanding so they both got to laugh it off.
The casts he makes can weigh up to 18 pounds. He explained how he doesn’t just make them for his classroom though. He also said he uses them for art projects and to further his research into etymology – the study of insects.
But Jill was glad that she had misunderstood.
Art And Education Without Cruelty
Jill made sure that her neighbor would promise not to ever use live anthills to make his casts and he was more than happy to agree. She told him that the next time he was making his models she might pop over again for a chat and maybe even a cup of coffee.
What started as a misunderstanding turned into a friendship.
Deciding To Check In
After a week passed, Jill decided to see how her new neighbor was doing. Now that a rapport had been established with him, she felt more comfortable visiting him. She wanted to see if he had any new creations.
She popped over the fence and called out to her neighbor. He was busy in the yard, working on his project like always. He smiled back and walked to the fence.
More Than A Hobby
Jill now knew that the Professor’s name was Arnold Hughs. After having a proper conversation with him, she now understood a different side to his character that she hadn’t known before. The anthill art was more than just a hobby for Hughs.
It had turned into a passion in recent years. She already knew that he used them to further his research in his field and to teach his classroom about insects. But there was more to it than that.
Trying To Go Higher
Hughs explained to Jill that he wanted to do more than what he had been doing. He explained in passing to Jill that he wanted his ant sculptures to make it further. He had given it a lot of thought and saw himself as an artist sometimes.
When he envisioned himself this way, he wanted to take things a step further. He imagined his art in galleries, even if it wasn’t just a few community ones.
Could Make His Dream A Reality
After speaking with Jill about it for an hour, she decided to go back inside. But what he said to her never left her. She thought about it that night and even the next morning when she woke up.
What Hughs didn’t know about Jill was that she had certain connections. And if she really felt motivated to, she would probably be able to help him achieve his dream. But would she do it?
Jill’s sister-in-law, Catherine, actually had a few friends in the art community. One of them was even in charge of scouting artwork for a community gallery. Jill thought about making the call but decided to sleep on it.
The next day, while she was at work, she contemplated it further. But she had no idea what the art community would do when they saw what he had made.
Deciding To Recommend Him
Jill got home from work and decided to do it. She made the phone call to her sister-in-law, who was thrilled to have new talent at her exhibition. Now she just had to go talk to Hughs. Jill had no idea when he’d be home.
She made dinner and enjoyed it on her porch. Just as she was about to give up, she heard his car rolling into the driveway.
Giving Him The News
She heard Hughs unlocking the door to his backyard. She quickly zoomed to the fence to see if he was around. She saw him standing outside, lighting a cigarette. She waved to him, and he waved back before he approached the fence.
“I have some good news for you,” Jill said with a warm tone. “I asked a favor, and we should be able to get your art in a gallery next week.” Hughs’ eyes went wide. He smiled at her and accepted her offer. But he had no idea that what the art critics would say would have him in tears.
Hughs told Jill that he was going to prepare for the event by making more sculptures. The dedicated man got up early before work to continue his project. There was an old abandoned anthill by his pool pump with a lot of potentials.
Jill remembered him saying that no one knew how the sculpture would turn out. After all, the true artists were the ants that made it.
His Biggest Creation Yet
Hughes decided to try and make his newest and biggest creation ever. He heated up the metal he normally used and got to work. Even though to Jill’s eyes, it didn’t look like a lot went into it. There really was a lot more skill than she thought.
He had to make sure that the anthill was abandoned by watching it for activity. It could sometimes take days. Thankfully, he already knew this one was empty.
He also had to be extremely careful when he poured the molten metal into the hill. He could easily burn his hands if he wasn’t careful. If he was heavy-handed, he could also break through the tunnels and ruin the sculpture.
A lot went into making it. But over the next week, Hughs was hard at work, busy making his art for the showcase the following week. But he had no idea what was going to happen.
Getting It Ready
By the end of the week, Hughes had his creation ready. He had worked hard on it all week, and it was finally nearly finished. He was proud of his work, and all that was left to do was wait for the gallery.
He now had Jill’s number and called her to make sure all arrangements were finalized. They were set to showcase his creation in one day – A Saturday.
Putting His Creation On Display
Hughs met Jill at the gallery and introduced himself to Catherine. After greeting everybody, he got his artwork ready for display. Now it was nearly time for the gallery to start. He just hoped nothing would go awry.
But if he had known how all of the critics would react to his art piece, he would never have gone to the gallery.
Moment Of Truth
There were now dozens of people shuffling into the art gallery. It was now the moment of truth. What would people think of his artwork? Hughs was an intelligent man, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t nervous.
Now his creation was out on display for all to see it. But he could never have expected what would happen next.
Hughs watched as Catherine and a few critics walked to his art piece. They examined it intently before discussing something amongst themselves. After five minutes, Catherine shook their hands, and they walked away.
Then, Catherine turned to Hughs and walked directly toward him. Now he’d finally get feedback, but what would she say?
A Future In Art
Catherine smiled at Hughs and gave him the news. “The critics really like your art. They say they’d like to see more in the gallery. Would you be open to showcasing more here each month?
Hughs’ eyes lit up. He even felt tears form in his eyes. He never knew that his art would amount to anything. And now that he had been given a chance, he could finally turn his passion into something bigger. In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.