Casey Otremba + Mindy Farabee

Cicadas

Cicadas

Lucy left the house just after supper, walked out back, and crawled beneath the hydrangea bush separating her backyard from Mrs. Miller’s, to collect a handful of cicada skins.
Their tiny corpses were suddenly everywhere, clinging mutely to the bark of bushes and trees. Lucy’s sister said it happens like this—every 17 years, the baby bugs crawl out of the ground, shimmy off their old bodies and fly off just like that. Lucy pried two crispy shells loose, slipped her slim fingers in through the slits. They clicked together like her mother’s false nails.
The sun had already slumped below the horizon, but Lucy’s mother hadn’t yet called Lucy into the house. She stood at the sink, humming along to a neighbor’s radio as she toweled off the dishes. If she would only look up, Lucy’s mother could have seen Lucy through the kitchen window.
Lucy was 8 years old and summer was dying but not yet dead. All her life, Lucy’s family had lived on this leafy street, in a groaning two-story with apple green siding. The air, like always, smelled of hydrangeas and lilac. Also now, the scent of her own sweat and frying hamburger.
Lucy felt the bushes rustle behind her. She looked up.
Lucy had been dreaming about the man all summer. In her dreams, he crept through the backyard, emerging from behind the shed by the end of the hydrangea bushes, he left slick foot prints on the paving stones leading to the kitchen door. Lucy never figured out why the man dripped and oozed. And why, just now, when he touched her, she felt all of nothing right in the spot where his hands grabbed hold. But all at once each of her limbs erupted in fire.
The man left Lucy’s body curled beneath the hydrangeas. To the new girl he said, tell them your name is Lucy.