Eulogy for a Grasshopper

The grasshopper died in an upright position, looking ready to launch. The days passed and the once bright green shifted to olive then brown then black. Finally, an icy wind knocked it to its side. It lay along where the grass met the sidewalk when the ice storm came.

So, she stayed inside and watched a man make crème de menthe ice cream on Instagram. Thought about once pretending to be statues on the dancefloor through Girlfriend in a Coma and the strange boy who could wiggle his eyeballs.

And she was thinking of her favorite line from a musical: there was no way back for us after what happened; there was no way forward .1 She was comfortable with the weight of regret on her shoulders. It was a shadow to help keep warm. To hide from desiccated things. To wonder why she didn’t pinch cicada shells into dust. To see the hawk swoop. To remember his face when she drove away and know that how she remembered it was never real. To know that it was just a face watching her leave because that’s what faces do.

Outside sleet knocked at panes and the lights flickered in homage to candlelight. Went out. The warm air of the furnace abated. The chill tapped at the back of her neck. A draft on the clavicle. Then still.

The first waft of sulfur reminded her of scary stories and Ebenezer’s long nightgown. Thoughts of impossibility. Of words forward insufficient in the wake of words longed to be revoked. But we used to cackle, didn’t we? And weren’t we terrible with verb tenses, muttering in French, in Spanish. Learning swear words in foreign languages as a badge of honor. Merde! Che palle! Vittu! Playing ghosts in the graveyard. Leaving pebbles in circles. Gifting wishes to stars.

She imagined fairies ice skating on the roof with each melting shard succumbing to gravity and started laughing about being crap at identifying key signatures. Then she remembered singing of three ravens and torches and ill-fated love. The melody of a 17th century ballad finding her throat. Memories of jumping on hotel beds and mumbling through sleep. Remembering dreams of hallways of a familiar house never visited. Of past lives. We were past. Never future. Dancing with our absurdity, unaware of how close we were to leaving our future behind.

1City of Angels


Penny Pennell received an M.A. in English from the University of Illinois at Springfield. Her fiction is forthcoming or has appeared in jmww, Portland Metrozine, Jersey Devil Press, 3Elements Review, Nightingale and Sparrow, Barnstorm, and other places. She is an avid gardener and Chicago Cubs fan. She can be found on Twitter at @pennyrpennell.