Summer of the Cicadas

Summer of the Cicadas

by Chelsea Catherine
Summer of the Cicadas

Summer of the Cicadas

by Chelsea Catherine


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Summer of the Cicadas is about a West Virginian town where a brood of Magicicadas emerges for the first time in seventeen years. The cicadas damage crops and trees, and swarm locals. Jessica, a former cop whose entire family was killed in a car crash two years earlier, is deputized during the crisis. Throughout the book, Jessica must deal with her feelings for her sister’s best friend, Natasha, who is a town council member. After Fish and Wildlife removes the swarm, Jessica must also confront the two-year anniversary of her family’s death, Natasha’s budding romance with a local editor, as well as a sudden but devastating loss that changes everything.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781597094832
Publisher: Red Hen Press
Publication date: 08/18/2020
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 984,653
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Chelsea Catherine is a PEN Short Story Prize Nominee, a winner of the Raymond Carver Fiction Contest in 2016, a Sterling Watson fellow, and an Ann McKee Grant recipient. Her novella Blindsided won the Clay Reynolds Novella Prize and was published in October of 2018. Her nonfiction recently won the Mary C. Mohr Award through the Southern Indiana Review. A native Vermonter, Catherine lived in Key West for two years where she was secretary of the Key West Writers Guild. She now lives in St. Petersburg, FL.

Read an Excerpt

The storm ends eventually. The house stops shaking and the noises outside cease. I’m good and drunk by then and crawl out of the closet space under the stairs on my hands and knees. I move to the window and look out into the night. My phone says it’s one a.m., but I have no service.

Four days until the anniversary now.

I peer out into the darkness. Some tree branches have fallen in the yard. Small pieces of wood, halved and broken, muck the grass. Otherwise, not much seems to have happened. The house sounds intact, at least from here. After lying on the wood floor for a while, I go to the window where the cicada was and check the old oak tree. My head spins as I shine a light into the night.

There’s nothing there, so I figure the storm must’ve scared them away. I wonder if they’re gone from the rest of the town or if they’ve lingered, hunkered down under the thick pine leaves and branches.

After a while, I decide to go to bed, but not before checking my phone again for service. There’s nothing. I pull up my text thread with Natasha. The last thing she wrote me was, Are you coming or no?

I enter the text box. Write, I love you, you know. Send the text.

Then I clamber upstairs, kicking my socks off at the top. I pad down the hall, pausing for a moment at Meg’s room before passing by it. I grab the pillow that Natasha used the other night and return to Meg’s old bed. The sheets are starchy, unused. I bring the pillow to my chest and breathe in, trying to catch Natasha’s scent, but it just smells like pine from the house. My eyes close.

I think about how it is to sleep forever and to not have to face the sun or the night or anything in between. I think about how quiet it must be—and good. It must be nice for dead people. Moving from place to place. Never held down. I wonder if it’s beautiful or if it’s just darkness and nothing for the rest of forever.


The sunlight behind me is momentarily blocked by clouds, removing the warmth from my back. I shiver. The rules are the same as they would be anywhere. Be wary, walk in groups. Don’t touch the crops. Let us know if you see anything suspicious. I’ve done this before. In DC, I did it a million times. But now I feel this hesitation, like I don’t actually know what I’m doing anymore. “Call Mason,” I say. “See if he’ll get her to do it.”

Brenda looks at me. A smile crosses her face. She touches my forearm, rolling the fabric of the uniform between her fingers. The warmth of her hand bleeds through to my skin. “Still fits you good.”

Brenda was there when Mason dragged me into that cell. She visited in the wee hours of the morning when I was detoxing and sweating and crying and wanting to die. She put a cool towel on my forehead and told me it would pass soon, I just had to hang on.

I still want to die sometimes, but I’m better at pretending. And she’s still around, laying her hand on my shoulder like I fucking matter.

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