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Rhythm is Gonna Get You

by Carrie Ann Alexis 6 months ago in Short Story
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The Cicada's 17-year Return

Rhythm is Gonna Get You
Photo by Pankaj Shah on Unsplash

I start my day early like I always do. With coffee and newspaper in hand, I step out on my deck to enjoy the early morning quietness before work. My yard is my haven, my sanctuary, the place I retreat to for peace and quiet. My job on the floor at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange is anything but peaceful. I stand up, take a deep breath of fresh air, and set my things down on the patio table. Stepping off the deck to check on my hanging planters, I near the grass. Something was odd, different. Yes, it was taller than normal, and at the top of my to do list for the weekend. But as I crouch down, I notice a large insect resting on the tip of a grass blade. As my eyes adjust, there are actually thousands of them, all balancing gracefully on the grass tips. Unlike flies, they are undaunted by my presence or sudden movement as I step back. Returning to the patio table to drink my coffee, I open the newspaper, my attention drawn to a headline that reads 17-YEAR ABSENCE BILLIONS OF CICADAS TO DESCEND ON THE MIDWEST. Skimming over the article, I peer out at the scene before me, thinking, yep, they’re here. I go to work, without another thought to this unpleasant intrusion upon my haven.

Little did I know that this would be the day from hell. I lost a boatload of money for one of my biggest clients, I’m lucky I didn’t lose my job. Damn, I haven’t made a rookie mistake like that in 17 years. My boss is being generous, he requests I take a mandatory vacation. One to clear my head so I can get back in the game. I’ve seen it happen to many of my colleagues, never thought I’d be one of them. I stayed alert, stayed sharp, but this unexpected turn of the market came out of nowhere, I wasn’t the only one who lost big.

I spend the first 45 minutes of my drive home in silence to decompress. The last leg of my trip, I crank up the tunes until I pull into my driveway greeted by the sweet sounds of nature that my overpriced mortgage affords me.

I pull up and turn off the ignition. I pause, it isn’t quiet. What I hear is something I’ve never heard before. It is a loud hum, a buzzing kind of sound, yet it is very melodic, it isn’t made by one, but rather a legion. The sound reverberates from the trees, the volume ebbs and flows like the swell of waves coming on to shore. I notice my grass is no longer covered with insects. Just like the article said, they retreat into the trees and make a lot of noise, this won’t be so bad.

I walk into the house, expecting to be hit with cool air, but I’m not. I don’t hear the central air unit running and check the thermostat. It’s set on 68, but it reads almost 83 as the indoor temp. Just what I need, I’ll deal with that tomorrow, I’ll just open some windows.

All evening, and well into the night, the cadence of the cicada’s musicality serenades me. But finally, by about 11 p.m., as if some great maestro waved his wand, it stops. The silence is deafening. Good I can get some sleep. Oh, there were a few interruptions throughout the night, occasionally one rogue cicada buzzed just to be heard, like a petulant child. But for the most part quiet.

The next morning is a different story. With the rising of the sun, the cicadas awoke, somewhat discombobulated. There was no melodic tune. It was more sporadic, creating a cacophony that I thought would make my ears bleed.

I make several calls trying to get a heating and cooling guy out today, no such luck. It won’t be until the first of the week. It is what it is, I move on with my day. I go outside to cut the grass, first checking to be sure none of the insects are still there, all clear. With the lawnmower humming, I begin my trek across the yard. The cicadas must be drawn to the sound of the mower, they begin to swarm around me landing on my arms and back. They don’t bite or sting, they are just annoying, so much so I have to go back inside. As the sun begins to set, the dissonance turns into a melodic lullaby.

Several days pass, the constant sound makes me irritable and fidgety. My best friend and colleague calls and texts several times, leaving messages just to check on me. Each time the phone rings or pings with an incoming message, I feel like I could jump out of my skin. I don’t return his calls, my text replies are brief. I’m not in the mood to talk to anyone. It’s as if the cicada’s rhythm controls me. During the day, I’m agitated and unable to focus, but as the evening comes to a close, the lull calms me. A Google search of these annoying invaders gives me an article that says they are good to eat, even includes a recipe, hmm.

The following afternoon, I fire up the grill and prepare myself a nice meal. Just as I prepare to dig into my barbecue feast, my phone chirps with an incoming message.

Dude, haven’t heard from you, what’s up?

nothing

You OK?

fine

Thought I might stop by

no, don’t

Why not?

not a good idea. stay away.

The next thing I know, he’s pounding on my door. “Martin, it’s me Greg, open up.”

I’m in no rush to open the door. My greeting lacks any enthusiasm, “Hey Greg.” I flop back down on the couch.

“Dude, what the hell? Ya look like shit.”

Looking down at my clothes I can’t remember what day I put them on. I scratch the stubble on the side of my face. Hmmm I should probably shave.

“Martin!” Greg abruptly says so loud I’m snapped back to reality.

“How can you stand this noise?” He rubs his hand down his face.

“You get used to it. It’s not so bad at night.” I stand up but forget why and look around trying to remember what I was going to do.

Greg must have noticed my restlessness. “I’m getting you out of here. Find your shoes I’ll grab some of your clothes, you can crash at my place for a while. Why is it so friggin’ hot in here?”

“Air conditioner is broken.” I scan the room for my shoes.

As I lace up my tennis shoes, Greg comes back down with my gym bag full, “C’mon, let’s go.”

We are only a couple of blocks away from my house, when I notice a change in the air. The noise, it’s gone. When I get to Greg’s house, the first thing I do is take a shower. As the hot water streams down my body, I feel like I am waking up from a dream. The events of the last couple of days run through my mind like a bad quality movie.

When I’m dressed, I walk into the kitchen. “Let’s eat!” Greg comes in from outside, with a couple of steaks on a plate. The delicious aroma causes my stomach to grumble. Makes me wonder if I did in fact eat barbecued cicadas. Nah, I couldn’t of.

Short Story

About the author

Carrie Ann Alexis

Just me sharing my passion for writing through fictional stories as I do life as a single mom while building a business as a virtual bookkeeper.

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