The World

Sky bounced the girl on his shoulder
and he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry
when she burped down his front.
He placed her down in her crib, and from the other side
of the photo-covered wall he heard,
“Stick your shirt in the wash, I need to put a load on anyway.”

Lily woke up to a body in her arms,
limp, and breathing in contented sighs.
And Lily smiled to herself,
and kissed the other woman’s hair and closed her eyes.

Fire burst from the third storey windows,
a crash of smoke and passion,
a forgotten cigarette
on a tired armchair.
Luka choked through the smoke in a baggy uniform,
to the boy on the floor who cried and coughed
over the still bodies of his parents.
Strange,
Luka thought,
how the simplest thing can change lives.

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cicada, epilogue

2024

Epilogue

The countryside could really be a beautiful thing in the evenings. Soft paddocks rolled over hills toward the horizon. The sinking sun shone gradients of bright autumnal fire over the sky, and the land basked in its warmth. The greenest of grass shimmered in the light of the setting sun. The light glittered atop a small pond. This sight was the most breathtaking to Heather. The water shone, and rippled with the gentle drifting of a tired duck. Sparkles seemed to bound off the surface of the water and shed magic upon the entire field. The grazing cows, velvety noses down to the grass, even seemed beautiful to Heather in the presence of that pond.

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The Sun (Lily VI)

At about ten in the morning,
the sun got to the perfect height
that it shone through the window
and Lily woke to meet it.

And with the sun, Sky,
and Luka, who placed Christmas lilies by the bed
like a reminder of old reflections.

Sky touched her hair
like when it was just
the two of them.
Fear of threes faded,
when they were finally apart.

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cicada, chapter ten

2024

Day 7

“So why don’t you have any children, Connie?” Heather asked as she sat down to scones and a steaming mug of Earl Grey. From across the table, Connie shot her a deadly glare.

“I have a resting bitch face and I appreciate good manners,” she retorted bluntly. “Unlike some people.” Heather rolled her eyes but still she smiled at Connie’s characteristic harshness. “Don’t you have more important things on your mind?”

“You’re right, actually,” Heather admitted. “I have no way of knowing who assaulted me in that shack and I’m sure as hell not going back there until I know.” Heather spread whipped cream across the crumbly surface of half a scone. She took a large bite and made eye contact across the table with Connie as she chewed. As per usual, Connie simply looked unimpressed.

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The Moon (Sky V)

He pressed his hand to the glass.
Behind it, a sea of the smallest hospital beds.
He thought how he could be a hospital bed.
And how Luka was a hospital bed,
in his own right.

His lips curled, unfurled, teeth like the sun.
But the news was down the hall
of the waste dreams realised had left behind.
Who else lay in a hospital bed?

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The Star (Luka VII)

Barefoot, Luka stepped around overgrown lawn
to the front door of the place he briefly called home.
He carried a vase, of the clearest water,
and of Christmas lilies.
The new moon above, not a glimmer, not a sliver,
only starlight and beams from the kitchen
helped Luka catch each step
until he was banging on the door.
Until he was banging on the window.
Until he was half-man, half-glass
and pulling a wilted flower from the ground
to the phone
and to the gurney.

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cicada, chapter nine

September 21 1989

v.

Jenny fell back heavily onto her pillow. Her screaming subsided when the child was finally out of her. Her eyes rolled back in delirium. Sweat pasted her unkempt hair to her shoulders and forehead. Tears streaked down her face, leaving spotty red marks around her eyes. Jenny only barely registered the smell of urine and feces tainting the air. Her every muscle ached, and her breaths were heavy and excruciating.

Through her hazy vision she could see her son sitting by the bedside, staring at her with wide eyes and eyebrows that begged to crawl up off his face. Henry gently stroked his mother’s arm, but his touch was unsteady. He vibrated with fear.

Between Jenny’s legs, a knife sliced through a fleshy umbilical cord. Jenny ached with the last small contractions as her placenta separated from her uterine wall. She closed her eyes and pushed as she had done before. The next ten minutes felt like decades to Jenny as she expelled her afterbirth.

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The Devil (Lily IV)

Finger marks broke the dust that had begun to fall
almost as soon as the door had closed.
Lily tutted at the state of things in that overlarge room.

Each taxi ride home from work grew longer
with pitstops at Tiffany’s and Coco’s.

From the loveseat Lily noticed,
with a quiet smile,
how in her house dust never seemed to settle
on mirrors and crystal.

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