The sound of cicadas in the trees is bittersweet. Summer is still here, but fleetingly.

We would head back to the city after spending the summer at the lake. We would be hot and not quite ready for school to start. The streets would be quiet. The only sound, the cicadas.

My sister and I and some of her friends would jump fences of the quiet houses with pools and swim in the lonely afternoon heat. We would not linger, but move on to the next house, the next pool. Then later we would cross the highway to get to the shopping center. I would chicken out, though, and stop dead in the middle of the road. My sister would turn back and see me. She would run out and grab me, pull me to the side of the road. We would all laugh and she and her friends would swing their long, straight hair back and before we went looking for boys.

My hair would be short, childish. Unswingable.

Nights at the fair would be reserved for my best friend and me. We would eat fried dough and scream on the tilt-a-whirl, the zipper, the bobsled, the flying swings. The carnies would notice us too young and not young enough. The would offer free rides to her older sister and cousin. We would want those frees rides, too, but would not get them. Not yet. We would win prizes, rigid stuffed animals with decals for eyes.

There would be soccer practice. The field mid-morning, not yet hot, but the sound of the cicadas in the circling trees said it would be. The older girls on the team would talk about their summers. One girl would wear a T-shirt that said, “INXS.” I would not know what it meant until someone else asked her. I would nod. Of course. Duh. Of course that’s what it says.

There would be years in a city with no cicadas.

There would be years when the sound of the ocean covered their noise.

Now their sound is all about time passing. The cicadas and then the tree frogs and then the sound of snow falling.

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