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Cicada by Indigo Seas
Chapter 1 : A Windowpane's Chirrup
 
Rating: 12+Chapter Reviews: 13


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A/N: For this piece of fiction, I tried to emulate Richard Siken's writing in his "Litany in Which Certain Things are Crossed Out" poem. My style is, by no means, as gorgeous as Siken's, but many elements of formatting and flow here come from his work.

For the lovely Marina (tell_me_what_the_truth_is), because she asked.



Suppose they meet at a wedding. After he's spoken, slow and smiling, and is folding his speech into a triangle to tuck into his pocket, she comes forward and grabs his elbow and confesses how much she loved it in that voice of hers that she really only uses when she’s talking to strangers. There is laughter involved.

Say they meet at a party, crowded and dusky with cigarette smoke that clouds the ceiling. She can't hear a word he's saying, and traces her fingers around the edge of her drink, but the smile on his face is so captivating that she sits and tries to listen. He's really telling her that she's beautiful, over and over again, but she can't make out the words emerging from his mouth.

Imagine that they meet through a friend of a friend, through a mother of a cousin of a nephew. Imagine they meet during some snowy evening in Hogsmeade, or while walking their dogs. Imagine they meet at a laundry mat, while she's stuffing unmentionables into a dryer and trying not to let scarlet flush through her cheeks.

But they meet. Maybe they hold hands, talk about family. They find each other, somehow, and they don't let go.

*

Suppose it's dark out, and she lies in bed while the wind whistles through the gap in the windowpanes like a chirp from a cicada. The air is thick and wet, pushing against her chest and coaxing sweat from across her hairline, and she's tangled in the sheets when there's a knock at the door, loud and sharp, slicing through the night. Maybe she rolls over, lets her fingers slide over the wood of the bedside table, while she listens to the hand against the door.

Hold that thought.

*

It’s assumed that, eventually, they fall in love. Man and woman, boy meets girl, hand-in-hand. They talk about their childhoods, careers, the literature that crowds their bookshelves. He loves her name, says “Daphne” over and over again until she insists it’s wearing tiny moth-eaten holes through its fabric. They laugh together and they're touching more often than not, and when he traces the inside of her elbow with his fingertips she can't help but feel like it's one of the most intimate gestures she's ever been a part of. And one day, he thanks her for being herself, and she thinks that, just maybe, she likes this man more than anybody before him.

*

Suppose she blinks before rolling out of bed, brings a finger to her eyelids and tries to wipe away the sleep that hovers there, as if brushing her hand across her lashes will somehow wake her up. Suppose she brushes away the blankets tangled around her ankles and shifts her weight so that the knocking can be answered. Rising off of the mattress like a corpse being summoned after death, she might rest her fingertips on the cold brass handle and slowly pull the door open.


Hold that thought.

*

Imagine they find a house somewhere outside the city, and they pack brown boxes that are taped with labels that will eventually rub off, and the day they move everything inside it's pouring rain. Torrents of water transform the sidewalks into makeshift streams, and the two are perfectly content to move glasses into cabinets and shuffle around half-empty boxes that clutter the living room. They have the first of many arguments concerning where they will keep his mother's ashes, as he wants them in the hallway and she wants them out of sight.

What if he carries her across the threshold, even though at that point she's crossed it many times before. Maybe he almost drops her, maybe she covers her eyes with the palms of her hands, maybe they laugh until the rain stops thundering against the windows.

*

Suppose that she doesn't notice the windowpanes' chirrup as she listens to the man who is standing on her stoop. His voice is low, and carries across space as if he's standing just a few inches from her, but she doesn't understand him. Maybe it's too late for her to process. Maybe the news just hasn't hit. She stands a little taller, asks him to repeat himself.

Hold that thought.

*

Let’s assume that, for whatever reason, she grows bored. Maybe she's so used to his mannerisms, his quirks and habits, that they don't sparkle any more. Maybe she looks at him, sometimes, and wonders where she'd be without him. Gradually, her fence posts are like prison bars, the windowpanes like atmospheres that decidedly hold her in.
They might stop touching when they lie in bed together. Let's say that he watches the light patterns on the ceiling as cars drive past, that she counts backwards from the highest number she can think of until she falls asleep. Maybe they're only inches from each other, and she can feel his heat as he can feel hers, but they lie stoic and silent in the quiet night air.

Say they listen to their heartbeats and think of the other.

*

Suppose she blinks twice, now, and she glances up to look at the trees that line the street, whose branches swing in slow rotations as if they, too, can't pull any energy out of the somnolent night air. The man continues to speak to her, and she brushes her fingertips across her forehead and breathes, just breathes, as she can hear her pulse growing stronger.

Hold that thought.

*

Maybe they realize, together or separately or somewhere in the grey in-between, that the excitement isn’t vital. Their affection is there, drifting off each other and floating lazily throughout their lives, regardless of their lack of intensity. Maybe he tells her this while they are sitting on the porch together, and he extends his hand to brush across the top of hers, and she doesn't feel a thing. Maybe she wanders into the kitchen for breakfast and announces it after pulling the Daily Prophet away from his face. Maybe, while they sit at the table and the candles cast flickering shadows across their cheekbones, they turn to each other and just know.

What matters is they see, each of them, that the spark is gone. And while that may be true, they still enjoy the other's company as much as they ever did.

That night, while he watches the lights go by and she counts with her eyes closed, he reaches out to tuck her hair behind her ear.

*

Suppose the windowpanes have suddenly grown too loud, and her heartbeat has started to ring across her eardrums. Suppose she takes a few steps backward, grips her hand in the other harder than she ever has.

Hold that thought.

*

Imagine that the house grows old; the roof slumps in and the shutters come off their hinges. Let's say they watch it decay, very slowly, as each day rolls in and the paint fades away with each coming sunrise. Sometimes, they stand outside on the sidewalk with his hand clutching hers, and tilt their heads together to appraise their sinking home. The grass is brown and curls in on itself, and the lawnmower stands in dusty disrepair at the side of the garage, watching as its once-weekly work falls to disarray.

One day, he buys a garden hose and maybe a can of paint, and they set to work. She didn't realize how much of it needed fixing.

*

Suppose she lies in bed, and the air is thick and heavy, and her ankles are tangled in the sheets. And there's a knock at the door and it calls out against the silence, and she rolls over to brush her fingertips across the bedside table before answering, soft and slow, after rolling out of her blankets. Suppose there's a man talking, telling her things she never thought she would hear. And her heartbeat grows louder and the windowpanes become unbearable and she stands back and listens, just listens, to the voice just a few feet from her.

Hold that thought.

*

Maybe (or definitely, doubtlessly) they love each other. Maybe she loves him and he loves her and, really, that's all that ever really mattered.

*

“Your husband,” the man is saying, soft and slow and gentle, “is dead.”

And the windowpane chirps like a cicada.




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