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May 1st, 2021. The clock strikes midnight and my eyelids fly open. A bright blue marker sits with purpose next to my calendar, waiting for me to mark the day that I finally discover my holy grail, my white whale, my Excalibur. The night is silent and still. But not for long…

My life-long search for the rare blue-eyed cicada has begun yet again, 17 years later. Sadly, it has been a month-long pursuit, ending in utter failure.

I was just 8 years old when I experienced my first Brood X cicada takeover. Day by day, the creatures popped out of the ground in heaps and then clung to the trees that lined my family’s home.

Each morning I stepped into my backyard with a magnifying glass and mason jar, waiting patiently in the grass like a lioness ready to pounce.

I was so sure that my blue-eyed cicada would come, but I didn’t want to scare it away, so waited quietly, still as a stone.

I have since learned that cicadas couldn’t care less if you’re near them. They’re too busy singing their piercing mating calls that have been ridiculously defined as ‘chirping.’ To my ears, it sounds more like screaming. I guess I wouldn’t be so bothered by humans either if I only had four to six weeks to find a mate, do the deed, and then die.

My quest for the blue-eyed cicada ended after I accidentally knelt down onto some broken glass from an old decorative garden piece.

While cleaning my knee, my mother scolded me, “No more waiting around in the dirt everyday, okay? Besides, I don’t want you to catch the cicada madness…”

Disheartened by her words, I accepted my defeat. I pressed on my Band-Aid, lamenting the waste of a month of hard work… And all for nothing.

This year, thanks to 17 years of newfound wisdom, I have a different approach to finding my blue-eyed bug of a white whale: the hands-on approach.

Cicadas are harmless. You can hold them and they won’t bite, sting, or spit venom at you.

As I mentioned before, they have their own agenda; to feed, to fly, and to fuck, all with no evolved defense systems.

Still, the younger, smaller version of me didn’t have the courage to pick them up in handfuls, and this is why she failed. So, starting today, I’ll be documenting my hunt from here on out:

Day 1:

The cicadas are just starting to molt from their shells, but their eyes are still too pale to tell their color. I’ve sketched a few of them. Feeling positive that ole Frankie Blue Eyes will emerge very soon!

Day 7:

They’re winged creatures now, living loudly in the treetops. Scoops of red-eyed cicadas fill my hands. They’re all the fucking same, and they are taunting me with their symmetry. My skin is sunburnt from all these days in the sun.

Day 11:

Felt like giving up. There must be twice as many cicadas than what I saw as a child, and I’m running out of patience. Every single one of these fuckers has the same red eyes. They’re loud chirping fills my head at night. I can’t sleep.

Day 15:

Why do I even bother? They’re starting to land on me now when I venture out of my dark room. My curtain is open, but swarms of cicadas block the light.

Day 21:

Still nothing. My walls are completely covered in maps of areas I’ve searched, flight path patterns, and cicada diagrams. There are red X’s everywhere. I hate that fucking color. Need more blue… need more sleep…

Day 27:

Haven’t eaten in days. I am so frustrated, tired, and hungry. I leaned up against a tree. I was trying to catch my precious and trying to catch my breath. I was in my bug-brain when… when I picked one up and ate it. I’m… so… sorry.

Day 31:

Red eyes.

R e d  e y e s.

Red dies.

They follow me.

They land on my shoulders, whispering things into my ears.

Day 35:

How can you be




at the same time?

Day 38:

If I eat them…

I’ll find you sooner this way.

Day 39:

they are in the house now

Day 40:

I was staring out the window in what little space I had to view through the surge of cicadas.

A beam of light circled perfectly through the space, around my eye, and blinded me for a second. I flew down like a bug to investigate. Could it be? My shiny blue-eyed treasure???

The sun is so bright. My burnt skin is beginning to fall off on its own now, much like a cicada when they molt. My new friends land on my limbs, my head, even my face as I walk closer to the beam of light, which I realized was reflected off a piece of broken glass on the ground. I knelt down to look at it.

In the glass, I could see my reflection, but for some reason, I looked so much younger. It was me, as a little girl kneeling on the ground.

Suddenly, I noticed a drop of blood, when the little girl in the reflection looked back at me, with the bluest eyes that I had ever seen.

“It’s you,” I whispered. “I found you.”

The little girl in the reflection was then pulled away to her feet, disappearing just as soon as my vision did. I was covered head to toe in cicadas. They crawled into my ears and out of my mouth. The sunlight above me was blocked by wings, legs, and those awful red eyes.

My mother was right. Seventeen years ago, she plucked me off the ground for a reason. She was trying to warn me about all of this.

As a woman, I had to make my own decision. I had to continue my search after all of these years, so…

I decided to descend into madness.

Sydney Walters

Copywriter, fiction author and PR professional from D.C. who scribbles in answers on trivia night and shouts at her Playstation. Sips hot tea or coffee from a Studio Ghibli mug. Paces while brainstorming. Conquers hot sauce.

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