Just recently, our very own Lance writer, Ava Garrard, submitted a short story into a contest and won! Western Illinois University recently hosted a “Get Lit” writing contest and event. This “Get Lit” event gives students the opportunity to showcase their work; may it be a poem, short story, pictures, and more! Garrard submitted her short story, titled “Cicadas,” and won the first place prize: $50!
“Cicadas” is a short story following a mom and her young son walking to meet his father. The mom and son talk about cicadas and the mystery behind their persistent and noisy calls. We the readers learn along the way the boy’s father died, they are walking to his gravesite, and the mom still internally grieves over the loss of her love. The story ends with the mom and son having a picnic next to the headstone of the deceased father.
Garrard wrote the short story back during the first semester for creative writing class. While Garrard wasn’t very proud of her work at the time, she said the win changed her perspective of the story. She said her inspiration came from a reoccurring dream she had during the summer of a widow and her son. However, Garrard has the haziest idea where the cicadas came from, though she suspects it was because they were all she heard at night. The biggest takeaway Garrard wanted readers to grasp was the appreciation of innocence in children.
“They don't understand things like death, yet they seem to have a better grasp than the rest of us somehow.”
The crew of The Lance would like to congratulate Ava Garrard on her win, albeit a small reward. We would like to encourage The Lance viewers to read “Cicadas” and congratulate Garrard on her amazingly written story!
The sun was starting its descent behind the horizon, painting the sky with an orange hue. Trees, seemingly stretching for miles in the countryside, engulfed two figures. A mother and her son were making their way down a long, gravel path, and with every step the curious six year-old seemed to wander further away and into his own thoughts.
The slender woman was balancing a basket on one arm and trying to corral the boy with the other. The surrounding forest was filled with a common summer sound. The cicadas were humming their obnoxious, yet familiar tune as the little blond-haired boy looked around in wonder.
“Mommy,” he tugged at her shirt, “what’s making that noise?”
“It’s just the cicadas, honey,” she replied, “and hold my hand.”
Her long, dark hair swayed in the warm, late-summer breeze as they walked in a comfortable silence. Of course, the silence wasn’t actually silent. From the trees, the noise came once again. The insects kept calling.
“Mommy,” he started again, “why are they so loud?”
She laughed, and with a soft hand, brushed the boy’s hair out of his eyes. It had a familiar tendency to do that, she thought. She could still see him, in fact it was hard not to. The towheaded boy reminded her every second of him.
“Are they bothering you, sweetheart?” she tucked a piece of hair behind her ear as she kneeled next to him.
The little boy paused and let go of his mother’s hand. He stepped forward. Putting one hand under his chin, in a sort of pondering stance, he said,
“No. . .I guess not, but WHY do they sound like that?”
Reclaiming her six-year-old’s hand, she thought for a moment.
“Well,” she started, unsure of what to say. “Maybe the cicadas are talking to their families, I bet a lot of them are telling them dinner’s ready right about now. Just like us.”
The little boy let out a sigh with his arms outstretched above his head and yet again continued with his mother down the now grassy path. His mother swung open a large metal gate and led the boy through, closing it behind them. The two walked hand and hand past many stones. Oftentimes, he would try to sound out the letters on them, but complex names weren’t quite his specialty yet.
The lump in her throat started to grow, just as it always had. The little boy leapt forward and hugged the smooth marble.
“Hi daddy!” he proclaimed.
Sighing with a shy smile, the young widow began setting up the small picnic she had brought along. The plaid blanket was soon decorated with the varying tastes of macaroni salad and club sandwiches. She glanced at her son, who was still leaning against the engraved stone. His little head bob as he stared at the fleeting clouds reminded her of him, even the way he leaned against the stone did. Those eyes, those ocean blue eyes were the most telling. Grief overwhelmed her for a moment, yet she tried tirelessly to not let it show on her face.
Suddenly, the boy started to make a faint hissing or humming noise, she couldn’t tell. As the sound grew louder, his mother questioned him,
“Dear, why are you making that noise?”
The boy ceased his hissing and looked into his mother’s eyes,
“I was telling daddy that it’s time for dinner, like the cicadas do.”