Micrograffiti: Time of Death 8:32pm by Moira Muldoon27/10/2010
The locusts had come back to DC, covering the ground, the bushes, the air. With each step, Michael inadvertently crunched them, and snapped wings clung to his socks. If he hadn’t needed to smoke, he would have stayed inside for a month until every last one died.
At 4pm, the hospice nurse – a well-built woman in her thirties with a master’s in theology – had told them that it would be only a few more hours. The locusts would live longer than his brother.
Michael heard his brother’s chest rattle and went outside. The nurse followed him, shook off a seat cushion. Bugs flipped through the air. “Got a smoke?”
He slid her the pack and some matches. “Which plague came after locusts?”
“I studied eastern religions mostly. But I think darkness was next, then the death of first-born sons.”
The night before he’d watched The Messenger on the flatscreen, in surround sound. The film was about soldiers who deliver bad news – an old hand teaching a newbie the ropes. Never say “passed away” or “no longer with us.” Say “dead,” say “die.”
“Your parents are good people,” she said.
“Your brother too.”
Michael could barely hear over the incessant buzzing.
“You know, these are cicadas. Not locusts. Locusts are more like grasshoppers.” She spoke almost to herself. “Not that it matters a hill of beans.” Her back sagged a little as the sky began its physical darkening.
Moira Muldoon is a writer based in Dallas, TX.