Psychopomp Magazine Fall 2016 - Page 44

of me, and we both stood up straight.

It was Esme. Diaphanous, glimmering slightly. She was wearing a sundress and a shoulder knapsack in army green I knew she loved. For a moment I stared at her, my heart filling, a million things I wanted to say roiling in me, but none of them could come out. I had wanted to see her for so long, and she never appeared, and now that she was here I was afraid of the glut of words inside me, afraid that she would disappear into nothingness again.

I thought you would be okay. I thought you would go on to do awesome things―win prizes for microbiology. Publish a chapbook of poetry. I thought you would be in my life. I thought we would move on, love other people, come together occasionally and sit at sidewalk tables at restaurants, eating charcuterie. Talk about old times with measured nostalgia. I thought you would look pretty with grey hair. That you would tease me for losing mine. I imagined a whole life for you, long and sweet and wondrous. I thought you would always be there.

Instead, I said: “It's a beetle.”

“I know,” she said, smiling a little, glancing down at it, and I was struck at the familiarity of that gesture. “I thought maybe it was a cicada. Sometimes they're really pretty, with these brilliant colors on their wings.”

“No, we didn't get any here. Everyone made a big deal about them coming, and they didn't. I was disappointed even though they make that horrible sound.” She laughed and my insides ached. I had to keep talking because I was terrified that if I stopped she would disappear. “I don't understand, they're supposed to come every seventeen years. I thought that was the whole point―cicadian rhythm.”

She smiled and shook her head. “It's never that simple. They probably don't lay many eggs in urban environments. They can alternate between the thirteen and seventeen year broods if the temperature in the ground

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