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A Cicada
Kenichiro Akita

     Now, I'm falling. I'm dying. Waiting for the moment that my body smashes to the ground. That's all I want to do. That's all I wanted to do. No one can survive if they jump off the top of a seventeen-story apartment, I guess. Who cares if I died on the pavement leading to a huge power generator? They wouldn't notice that I was one of the residents of this isolated building on the hill. Even though I'd lived here for more than a decade.

     My life was shitty like a cicada's. Life in the darkness. There are many cicadas around here, but no one cares about them. For people, cicadas are only invisible noise makers which start buzzing from early in the morning every summer. My father taught me about the clamorous bugs before, when I was a little kid. He said they only can live one week or less after spending seven years in cold, pitch-dark underground world. I remember I took pity on the tiny bugs, but my life was like that, too.

     What's gonna happen after all my blood comes out from this lanky body? Who could take my soul to Heaven or Hell. The answer to this question is D-E-A-D. D for death, E for even, A for after, D for dead. "Death even after dead." That's exactly I want. I'd rather refuse any invitations. I don't wish my reincarnation at all. I need to finish my soul.

Fall down
I'm falling down
Now, I'm falling down
Fall down from Hell
I know now I'm dying
Don't feel anything
I am numb
I am nothing

     I'm in a bizarre situation now. While I'm falling down from the top of the building, everything is in slow motion as if I pushed SLOW button on my Samsung VCR. I always used this secret but excellent function whenever I watched crowds on the video. I enjoyed observing people's faces. Everyone had different faces, different from mine. Anyway, I can peep at people's live through the windows. I feel cool as if I, myself, got the function just before death.

     It was out of curiosity that I saw a dog and its middle-aged mistress through the first window. The dog, an Afghan Hound, sleeping next to the woman, who is watching a stupid daytime drama on a pink vinyl sofa. These kinds of ladies tend to consider themselves as real mothers of their pretty puppies, but it's kind of a contemptible ego only human-beings can have. Now, I found that the dog is watching me! This is an interesting surprise because I thought that even a dog would not be able to react to things moving very quickly. Is that a keen animal reflex or did the dog already know that I would pass outside the window?

     I remember that I used to have a small Spitz dog. I don't remember his name, Lassie or Rocky. It was long time ago, before we moved here. Actually it wasn't my dog; my father brought it for my brother's birthday present. My childhood with a father and elder brother was quite delightful. One day I noticed that I didn't have a woman I could call Mom, but it wasn't a big deal for me. We had a small vacation house near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I liked to drive down there every summer, the road was extremely straight as if it extends to the horizon over the hill. My brother and I named the road "Highway to Heaven". Maybe we named it after Zeppelin's song, but "just because" was reason we gave our father when he asked about it again and again. The next year, on the way there, father used the graceful name again. We were happy that he remembered that silly thing.

     There is no one in the next room, the one downstairs from the dog and lady's room. The room is simple and neat. The owner must be a tidy person like my father. Though he worked very hard for a small furniture company, he never messed up our house. He didn't seem to like to clean up the rooms. Sometimes he gave up his daily duty halfway and slept on the couch with our dog. We never blamed his snoring though it was noisier than the morning cicadas which woke us up every summer.

     We hardly can see them, but watch carefully! They are always on the tree. The female doesn't buzz at all, only the male can buzz. The buzzing has a magic power which attracts females, but it's not always females. The buzzing sometimes attract other male, too. Like my brother. I adored him so much.

     Here comes the next room. I can see some sunflowers on the black, glossy oak table in front of the two pieces of black leather sofa. No one is there but the TV is on. ESPN... I can see a Dallas Cowboys championship cap on the cabinet filled with bottles of whisky and gin. Probably an old guy is living here with his old wife. Anyway, I don't like flowers in the vase. They make me sick. They are disgusting. I wish I could smash them to the wall as I did after my brother's funeral.

     My brother had a serious problem with his heart. I didn't know about that till we moved to this apartment and he had to stay in the bed all the time. My father didn't let him go to the hospital because he knew that only thing the doctors could do for him was extend his painful life half a year or less. Also my brother didn't want to go to the hospital either. My father and brother chose this beautiful environment instead of the unpleasant smell of the hospital hallway. He refused to die alone in a small chamber. 'Enjoy your life!' Since we moved here on April 1994, he gave the words every morning from his bed and I really liked that.

My brother died on his bed, next to mine, on September 21, 1994. Kurt Cobain was already dead at that time. I still remember that day clearly; it was the last summer day of the year just like today. While we were waiting for an ambulance to take his body to the hospital, my father didn't speak at all. There was silence but I heard a cicada buzzing outside far from our room. The shrill sound of the siren came near to the apartment on the hill and drowned out the voice. I thought it was my brother saying good bye to us. My father regretted a long time that he didn't let him stay in the hospital. I consoled him with the words, "Every person must die sooner or later." The words made me feel strange. I must die some day. Maybe I should die when I became eighteen, just like my beloved brother. We were destined brothers, right?

     As I approach the next room, I can hear something from the open windows. It must be music. Since I'm in a slow motion world, I can't tell it is classic or rock. Now I can see a boy. First, I can see his black cutoff jeans, heavy silver chains around his backside pocket. He's got a black panther on his right shoulder and his both nipples are pierced. 'It's a punk!' His short golden hair is sticking from his red skin, like a hedgehog. He's trying to hold up his Diet Mountain Dew bottle on the glass table.

     My brother and I used to have our own rock collection in our room. It was he who gave me Jane's Addiction's masterpiece "Ritual de lo Habitual". I became a big fan of them. We were always together except for our school hours. We both had some friends in our classes but they were not BEST FRIENDS. Every afternoon, I waited for him to come back from school. He was always late. I found out later that he had a girlfriend in the school, but she didn't have power to separate us. My father gave him an old Honda when he became 16, so it was easy to get to a small shopping mall in the town. Going there and hanging around for an hour was kind of routine for us. We were always together. We were not just brothers, but best friends and lovers. Did you know that, brother? I always kissed you on your lips while you were sleeping. Every night. Every single night.

     The next room is... 'Shit!' The curtains are shut. But, wait a minute! I can see someone on the beige curtains. It's me! I can see myself reflected on the window. It's kind of weird, I can see my scraggy body of skin and bones. I'm upside down, I'm falling. I can finally finish my goddamn life. It's the end. It's the end. I can go now. I can go to nothing. I close my eyes now, and just wait till I become nothing. It's easy. It's easy. Only have to close my eyes and wait.

     I needed to get myself ready to die till eighteen. Three years was not enough for me to completely enjoy the rest of my life. I had to enjoy twice as much as any one else. He was still with me, in my soul. That coke was not only for me, but also for my brother. I got a tattoo on my right arm, the one on my left arm was not mine. We were always together, right? But you chose only your father rather than me on my eighteenth birthday.

     It was a terrible car accident. I drove your yellow CRX to a restaurant; my father was in the bucket seat, too. I thought I heard your voice. I still believe it was you. I forgot what you said at that moment, but you said something about my "life". I believed you could take me to your place. I swung the wheel left towards the silver Mercedez. I remember father screamed at that moment. I really didn't care about him. I thought we could be together again after that. But it was not the end for me. I survived. I lost everything and, I was nothing in a sense. Why you didn't take me to your place? After the accident, I woke up in the dark hospital room without you.

     Seven years passed, and it's time to kill my soul. My life in the darkness will finish in seven seconds. Now, I'm going to die.

     I don't feel any pain yet. Did my body hit the ground already? To the heated pavement I used to walk on with him. It leads us to the huge generator. If I'm in the so-called other world, my consciousness doesn't have to exist. Goddamn. I gotta check whether I disappeared or not. I gotta open my eyes as slow as I can. 'Shit!' I'm still in the air. What the fuck is going on!? The whole time I tried not to see was just as quick as my daily wink. O.K. Calm down. I know the ground is getting closer to me. I don't have to think anything about my life. Don't worry, I'm dying.

     There was a stream near our small log house in South Carolina. I enjoyed catching red crawfish there. Of course, my brother was next to me. We got dripping wet when we went back to the cabin, but my father didn't scold us. He looked very happy with his all smiles. The next day, we took our father to the stream.

     I feel something wrong in my mind. Whole memories are racing through my mind. Only goddamn good memories with my family. What for? I'm not afraid of death. No, I'm not. What's wrong? Am I afraid of death? No! Now that I can say farewell to my goddamn life. I should smile.

     My windows are getting closer to me. My curtains have never opened for this seven years. I can see myself again reflected in the window, but not clearly. The windows are dirty. There is a dead cicada outside the windows on the dusty sash.

     I heard a cicada buzzing just before I jumped off from the top, when I was climbing over the wire net fence. At that moment, I could feel all my blood circulation in my body; warm blood running through an artery, vein, even tiny branches in my fingers. I felt my heart beating very quickly. "I'm still alive." I felt like that after a long time. "So what?" I wiped out the stupid idea. I was ready to die

     The dead cicada is watching me. Not moving, but its small eyes are staring at me. 'Were you watching me all the time?' I'm talking to a dead bug. Stupid! 'Don't waste your only seven days on the ground.' I hate myself; I'm not such a sentimental guy at all. But the sentence I said to the cicada is running in my upside down brain. Fuck! Stop it, idiot!

     I don't want to peep at people's private lives anymore. It makes me crazy. But I'm looking into the next room. Two, no, three boys are smoking cigarettes in the living room. Probably they are friends and they didn't go to school today. I can't see any adult around the room, so "don't hesitate to smoke, kids". They are living their own life, enjoying their lives like we used to do, brother.

     Now that I remember what you whispered to me on my eighteenth birthday. The day I killed my father. "Enjoy your life!" You gave me those words again at that moment! I'm sorry father, you shouldn't have died. I can't see clearly. I'm crying. 'This is not what I wanted to do!' My life was not so shitty. I could enjoy my life even after your death. Now, I regret what I did. 'I don't wanna die!' The dead cicada is still watching me. The cicadas can enjoy a delightful life, though it is limited. They spend a meaningful seven days. I should do, too. Is it too late? I don't think so! I can fly! I can fly!

     I heard a thick sound when I reached to the ground. I was lying on the pavement face down. The pavement was heated, or maybe it was warmth of my blood. The asphalt road didn't absorb my blood at all. Blood ran from my body down the hill, in the opposite direction from the power generator. I didn't feel pain when I came out from my body. I tore flesh and skin with my pointed arms. The sun was still shinning above the apartment. I started to creep toward the sun.

     After a long silence, I found myself on the mortared wall of the white apartment. I'm not a human anymore. I've got wings on my back; they are still soft and white. My memories and humanity will be gone soon. I'm going to enjoy the rest of my life as a cicada. All I want to do in this seven days is to spend as meaningful a life as possible.


I would like to thank my classmates who helped for my paper: Cindy Kim, Selena Reily, Andrea Fetzer, Ryan Nelson, Michelle Heller, Jake MacDonald, Forrest Green, Christopher Brasel, Sara Nita, and Terry Heller. I also thank the Coe Writing Center and Barbara Drexler. Thank you so much.

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