Please Shut Up

by Wes Tern

A cicada was happily playing his earsplitting song on the trunk of a tree when an owl, a few feet higher up on the trunk, popped her head out of a hole.

“I’m trying to sleep,” the owl yelled. “Will you shut up already!”

The cicada, startled by the owl, stopped the buzzing and turned and looked at the owl. “Oh, I’m sorry, is my existence bothering you?” the cicada said.

“Not your existence,” the owl said. “Your noise.”

“This ‘noise,’ as you call it,” the cicada said. “Is the reason for my existence. If I stop, no female will find me, let alone mate with me. No eggs. No larva. No more cicadas. You follow?”

“Oh, I follow,” the owl said. “This horrible noise you’re making, and that’s keeping me up, is your way of trying to get laid.”

“Exactly,” the cicada said.

“I can respect that,” the owl said. “But this seems a dangerous way to go about it. I mean, what happens if you attract the wrong kind of female?”

“What do you mean?” the cicada said.

“It’s not like all females are the same,” the owl said. “What if the female that shows up is needy, or controlling? What if she’s high maintenance? What if she’s a psychopath?”

“I don’t know what kind of mind game you’re trying to play,” the cicada said. “But I’m not falling for it. I’m not leaving this tree. The others are taken. And this tree”—he tapped it with his forearm—“this tree is mine. I’m not leaving it no matter what stupid story you tell me.”

“In that case,” the owl said. “I’ll leave.” She hopped onto the lip of the tree hole, which was both the exit and the entrance to her burrow, and she took flight.

The cicada smiled. He began his buzzing song, even louder than before, but it cut off a few seconds later. The owl, after snatching the cicada off the tree trunk with her talons, made a loop around the tree and flew into her tree hole burrow, where she swallowed him whole. He was delicious. But not nearly as delicious as the silence that followed. She slept soundly the rest of the day.

Wes Tern writes stories and teaches classes. His work has been published in Flash Fiction Magazine, Brilliant Flash Fiction, WINK Magazine, Blue Lake Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Florida.