Beneath a cloudless sky of darkness they arrive like thieves, small musical bandits that mean no harm. I should know for I am one of them. My name is Serenada the Cicada and this is my story.
I come from a long line of singers. My ancestors first met the Pilgrims back in the Plymouth Colony about 1634. They were amazed at the number in our choir.
The Indians foretold that many people would become very sick from us. That same summer many Indians and Settlers caught the fever and died. In the Autumn the sickness stopped. So did we.
Our group went underground. We were given the name, “The Nymphs”. It sounds more like a rock band. Being young we didn’t do much but drink root juice from saplings.
We didn’t reappear until 1651. We were so glad to get out of there. How much can a guy do under the dirt?
Anyways, there is no proof that anyone was sick because of us. We were given the name of locusts or “Pilgrim Flies”. The name sounds like an insect that wears black tights, knee pants and carries a loaded musket.
We probably would be better off if we did. Those birds would like nothing better than to have us for an appetizer, main course and dessert. At least we would have a better chance of survival.
I’m not brooding but I do belong to a brood, entitled Brood Thirteen or X111 for short. Our group last appeared in 1990.
There are at least 15 different broods. Twelve of them have a seventeen year cycle while the other three only live for thirteen years.
We may be tiny, only one and a half inches long but what we lack in size we make up in vocals. We vibrate our tymbals, a membrane that is in our abdomens which makes a high pitch sound.
When our all male choir gets together it is sweet music. Unfortunately, no one sings base or baritone. We have tried out for quartets but never made it. Someone needs to sing the melody. So, what can I say?
The girls like our singing. We don’t see much of them though. You see, our days are few. It’s a fate that brings tears to my eyes. No, that’s not why they are red. It’s a family trait. Please don’t stare, it’s rude.
While the butterfly flaunts their beauty, each time they flap those wings, we on the other hand are known as the ugly bug. I take it in stride. It goes to show you that beauty is just skin deep. Music comes from the heart not from looks.
In one way we are similar to those brightly dressed showoffs. Not too long ago we shed our skin but came out soft and white. Hours later we hardened and our wings grew out.
It’s a lot like humans I’d say. We grow and develop and have a reason for living, to sing and give life. Everything has a purpose.
Well, I don’t have a lot of time to sing my song. I need to find me a princess to settle down with. My life span is not much more than a week.
Girl Cicada’s on the other hand get to see the neighborhood longer. They are busy making slits in trees where they lay hundreds of eggs.
About six to ten weeks later, the spawn will hatch. Another group, also called, “The Nymphs”, will drop to the earth. Then they'll bury down deep underground.
Just like the rest of us they won’t make their debut for another seventeen years. All I can say is, find a nice rootlet, you're going to be there for a while.
I wrote a song to sing before I leave. It goes like this.
Under a promising moon
slowly he climbs
to a stage made of bark and leaf
where a red eyed bug
longs for a hug
for his short life is full of grief
Sweet maiden he cries out
Serenada is my name
your sweet prince I do long to be
I have songs to sing
much joy to bring
we’ll go down in history
We are like two passing ships
upon a vast and mighty sea
with no time to waste
I bid thee haste
and pray I make it up this tree
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