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 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.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
R e d e y e s.
They follow me.
They land on my shoulders, whispering things into my ears.
How can you be
at the same time?
If I eat them…
I’ll find you sooner this way.
they are in the house now
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.