December 20, 2022
The Cricket's Last Song
A pigeon landed on the head of a towering sculpture, cocked its head to one side, and pecked at the marble man. A sudden but brief silence swept the piazza as if the pigeon switched off the din to let a cortege of angels fly over the Renaissance.
“When it’s suddenly quiet, angels are among us,” said Joe to his daughter Sophie. The pigeon flapped its wings and landed on a G for gelateria. The humming and honking joined a lone cricket’s shrill shivering among the giants in flesh and stone.
Sophie perked up. She tugged her father’s shirt that had lost its freshly-ironed crispness. She stretched her arm in an out-on-a-limb pose.
"It’s a cricket, Daddy. I’ve never seen a cricket before.” Her eyes sparkled.
Sophie met her father’s helpless gaze.
“Darling, we have tickets. If we leave the line, we’d have to wait longer.”
Joe and Sophie played a game of tug-of-war, pulling toward the colossal gates or the escalating song of the cricket.
Joe remembered the first time he held a baby bluebird in his palm—the mother with one eye on a worm, the other on the boy with scabs on his knees, stroking her baby in blue. Joe used to let ladybugs clamber tall blades of hair on his orange freckled arm, watched spiders weave ephemeral art, and just before Sophie won the tug-of-war, the fireflies from his childhood danced and glowed.
The cricket rubbed its wings. The friendly giants observed the creature’s hind legs that could leap great insectile heights, fine feelers like harp strings, its infinitesimal shape against slabs of marble, gold and bronze and its amazing voice in crescendo.
Joe reached into his pocket for a map turning his back to the letter S, a spiral of bare shoulders, black straps like conveyor belts cutting into clammy necks, and thumbs thumbing glossy guides.
The pigeon coated the letter G in white and then swooped. Joe followed the bird’s trajectory. “C’mon, time to go.” Joe swivelled his daughter and yanked her away from the vulnerable insect. The pigeon seized the cricket.
Joe thought back to when his mother lay on her death bed. “Hearing is the last to go,” a nurse said, but he remained silent. A host of angels flew in from the open window carrying a cool breeze.
Years later, Sophie tried to remember the Belltower and the Duomo, the Primavera in a golden frame, the bowls of vanilla, strawberry and caramel, but only the cry of the lonesome cricket lingered.
© the author
by Isabelle B.L.
Isabelle B.L. is a writer and teacher based in France. Her work can be found in the Best Microfiction 2022 anthology, Visual Verse, Discretionary Love, Rabid Oak, and elsewhere.