• Published 6th Jun 2021
  • 344 Views, 43 Comments

Scenes From A Hat - The Hat Man

A series of strange and singular stories picked properly from a proliferation of perplexing and pleasing prompts now audaciously authored into an annotated anthology by a meticulous, methodical man in a high, haughty hat.

  • ...

Song of Cicadas

Granny Smith sat in her rocking chair on the porch of the Apple Family home, the creak of the wooden chair as it eased back and forth barely audible above the rhythmic cry of cicadas that filled the evening air.

She paused, reaching for her glass of sweet tea, shutting her eyes as the raspy drone beat out its pulsing cadence, rising and falling, rising and falling as though the whole forest was coming alive and breathing meditatively before the sound strainingly held onto one last note and gradually died away.

The sweetness of the cold tea filled her mouth and she puckered her lips before giving a satisfied sigh and set the glass down, the cold condensation still wet on her hoof. And as she did, the cicadas began their song anew and she gently rocked back and forth, almost synchronous to their rhythm.

Summer’s just about over, I reckon, she thought. Another long, hot summer… though, truth be told, it really feels like they’re gettin’ shorter every year…

She remembered back when she was a filly, when each summer just stretched on and on, and each day as they labored to build up their farm was filled with toil and sweat and scorching heat from above, when the only refuge was the tiny farmhouse or the shade from those first few scraggly trees that had grown up.

With all the digging and planting and cooking and such, it seemed that their great work and aspirations were an eternity away, and yet…

Sure enough, Daddy was right, an’ all that hard work paid off but good.

She smiled, pausing her rocking again at the thought of her father. His gruff voice, his tired but gentle eyes, his sweat-soaked scent, and his powerful forelegs hoisting his exhausted child onto his back as he carried her back to the farmhouse for supper.

How long has Daddy been gone? she caught herself wondering, her mind momentarily having to count the years up. And somehow the enormity of the answer caught her breath in her throat:

Fifty-three years. Fifty-three long, lonesome years since Daddy last spoke to me… that just don’t seem real… feels like I can still hear ‘im callin’ me, wakin’ me up an’ him not bein’ the least bit fooled when I pretended to still be asleep…

And in thinking of her father, she thought of the others.

Of her husband, brief as their time together had been, and so much sweeter for it. Feeling her passions stir as she remembered his powerful embrace, his deep voice that had thrilled her and filled her with girlish delight ever since the first time he’d asked her to join him at the square dance.

Of Pear Butter - Buttercup - that poor, sweet girl who’d left one family and somehow become as dear to her as her own flesh and blood, the daughter with whom she could share a bond that she’d never known she’d craved.

And Bright Mac. So earnest, so strong, so loving… ever since she’d held him as a tiny foal for the first time…

She shut her eyes, letting the sting of the moment pass over her as she took another deep breath, the cicadas somehow sounding out their sonorous summer song even louder than before.

My boy was born in the summer… why, it was on his birthday when he stumbled into a buttercup that I told him about that trick to make yer chin glow… not that it ever did his yellow-as-sin chin any good…

She chuckled to herself and relaxed, taking another drink of tea.

Summertime. That magical time that seemed almost eternal as a filly somehow came about every year, weaving its magic with its vibrant, hot nights, filled with the songs of cicadas and the miraculous glow of fireflies as they illuminated the spaces between the trees that surrounded the orchard.

But it was not eternal, of course… those cicadas were a reminder of autumn just as much as summer when you got right down to it. That song meant summer was nearing its end, the long hot nights giving way to longer, darker, colder ones. It spoke of dry and brittle leaves rattling like paper as you strolled through the paths up to the road into town. Of that strange spice in the chill air, like cinnamon and allspice. Of the cold sweet tea giving way to hot cider and mulled wine and cocoa…

And most surely of the bountiful harvest of apples that grew so large and fat that they weighed down the branches of the trees as if they were begging to be relieved of such a burden by her and her dutiful kin.

But this brief time, this change from summer to fall, never seemed to change. No matter how long or short the two seasons seemed on their own, this feeling of the time between, these sounds, these memories… the old mare felt her age melt away, for in the space between seasons, between moments themselves, she found something ageless and eternal.

She sat back in her chair, feeling her eyes grow heavy.

Then there was another familiar sound: the screen door giving a rusty whine as it opened.

“Granny?” Applejack asked. “Ya comin’ in soon? It’s gettin’ a bit dark an’ Sugar Belle wanted to know if you’d like to show her more about quiltin’.” She chuckled. “That gal sure seems eager to learn all about the family quilt. I expect she’ll be addin’ more squares to it herself soon.”

There was a pause followed by silence as Granny Smith continued to sit, listening to the cicadas once more.

“Uh... unless yer too tired?” Applejack asked, rubbing the back of her neck uncertainly.

The old mare smiled and shoved herself out of the chair. “Always time to talk about quiltin’, child!” she snapped, though she did so with a grin and a wink to her granddaughter as she trotted past. “Why, I’ll make that gal a quilter so dang grand, she’ll think she was born quiltin’!”

And Applejack followed her, but stopped in the doorframe, turning around momentarily to look out at the farm behind her.

The land was shrouded in the dim glow of the fading sun, the cicadas starting up another verse of their eternal song that rose and filled the warm summer air.

Applejack smiled, the song recalling to her a time to summers gone by, when she was still a child, and the brief time between summer and fall seemed like it would last forever…

Author's Note:

This story was written for the "Poetic Prose" contest held on August 27, 2021, for the Quills and Sofas Speedwriting group, where it placed 3rd! 🥉

Comments ( 2 )

And I've now gotten to the three of these, and enjoyed them; thank you for writing. :)

Lovely stuff in all three. Very different tones in each, but all of them were enjoyable.

Login or register to comment