A Storyby Eric Puchner
It was the summer of the cicadas. They’d been living underground for seventeen years, but now they tunneled out of the earth and climbed the trees and telephone poles, breaking free of themselves and sprouting wings. They left their translucent shells clinging to branches, like perfect glass replicas. Overnight, it seemed, the ancient oaks bubbled and seethed and turned into enormous magic crystals. Dogs went crazy, digging in the dirt and gobbling up the white nymphs by the dozens. The sidewalks shimmered like streams. Our neighbor, Mrs. Etheridge, refused to go outside without her umbrella; the bugs rarely took flight but she’d run to the car with her head ducked down, as if pummeled by rain. We collected their shells in our shirts and made necklaces that we wore around, like witch doctors. The wings of the cicadas were amazing things, veined and delicate as a fairy’s, and we harvested them from corpses or plucked them from still-buzzing cicadas in order to frighten girls.