Greg stuck his hand out the front door, feeling for rogue raindrops. He held it there for thirty seconds, at which point he started to wonder if his neighbors were staring at the bodiless arm emerging from his house.

You’re the idiots here, he thought. I’m just trying to protect myself.

The weather, Greg noted as he removed his hand from the elements, was unfortunately pleasant. No impending tornadoes or tree-splitting lightning or heat waves that bake the grass until it’s a nice golden brown. Not even a morning shower was coming, as far as he could tell. He was going to have to cancel all of his plans again.

It was the fourth day in a row that the air had been so calm, which meant it was the fourth day in a row that the cicadas won. Clear skies were their saviors, letting them flit around town with authority. They were lucky the earth was being so kind too them.

If I decided the weather, Greg thought, there’d be a tempest for a week straight and we’d get through cicada season in peace.

He had been hoping that today would bring a reprieve from the anxiety-inducing buzz that told him one was lurking nearby, ready to land in his hair or on his arms. Greg knew he was a cicada magnet, which is why he had to take more precautions against antennae-to-skin-contact than the average person. There’s no easy way to go outside when the enemy has a 360-degree advantage.

The most practical solution he could come up with, after several hours of brainstorming exercises, was the quarantine. Though he quickly got bored of watching daytime soap operas, and he missed the way his friends made him laugh with his mouth wide open after he’d had a couple glasses of wine when out for after-work drinks, he feared the feeling of cicada wings brushing against his cheeks even more.

“No, I can’t go to work until the whole thing is over, Sandy,” he had said to his best friend on the first day, when she called after remembering how he’d had a string of panic attacks during last year’s cicada season. “This is a crisis and I don’t know how everyone’s being so calm about it.”

“Just swat them away. You’re overreacting.”

“You’re oversimplifying the problem.”

Even thinking about their bulging red eyes gave him short breath. He wanted to run up to his bedroom, burrow underneath the covers, and sleep away another day of waiting. The spot had kept him warm the past four nights, and he was looking forward to the darkness that it created, enveloping him. But, it was only noon. Greg had many hours remaining until he could gauge tomorrow’s weather, and, therefore, if tomorrow would be the day he returned to life.

So instead, he took a shower and made a bowl of soup and tried to think about how fresh he’d feel when he finally got to emerge from his house again.

Published at Goon and Darling Do Flash Fiction on May 28, 2012.


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