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The cicada rested at the very top of the stemming gladiolus, its eyes like tiny firethorn berries, its leadlight wings catching rippled reflections while windowing the greens and brick-reds that formed its backdrop.

It had burst from its boundaries and climbed a hand’s breadth above the squat nymph skin it left behind, then paused for its body to unpack itself into something twice that size, for the air to stiffen what was soft.

Its 17-year wait was over.

An hour later it had gone, but the hollow, cramped memorial of its past self still clung to the green stem with the sticky pinprick ends of discarded limbs. Unless a summer storm comes down hard enough to wash it free, it’ll be there when the flower blooms, stay there until it withers down to the earth, remain in place long past the life of what it contained.