The Cicada with Only One Wing
By Stuart Baum
Illustrations by Gryffon Baum
The little cicada had no idea anything was wrong until he heard the human girl say the following:
“Ha ha! That cicada spent seventeen years underground only to come out with one wing. And now it can’t fly. Ha ha! Stupid bug.”
The little cicada looked to its left and saw a nice, long shimmery wing. He wiggled the wing. He flapped the wing, gently, since he did not want to fly just yet. The wing was so beautiful!
He looked to his right and saw… nothing.
The little human girl was right.
Only one wing. Only the left wing.
There were many other cicadas around, so he looked at them and each of them had two wings. The cicada on the branch next to him had one, two wings. The cicada on the branch under him had one, two wings. And the one flying by, hard to count wings when bugs are flying since it seems like they have many wings or none at all, but that cicada had one, and two wings as well.
The little human girl was not done making fun of the cicada.
“Ha ha!” she added again. “Seventeen years underground sleeping and then come out broken and useless. What a waste!”
The little cicada wiggled its one wing and was very sad.
Later, the cicada saw the human girl in the back yard again. This time the cicada would show them that it was not broken and useless.
It leapt from the branch and flapped its one wing as hard as it could. But, instead of flying, the little cicada circled awkwardly down the ground and landed with a sad, thump in the short grass.
“Ha ha!” the human girl laughed.
The cicada flapped its one wing more, hoping it could take flight, but all it did was make him spin around sadly on the ground.
He looked over towards the human girl, expecting more laughter, but the human girl had stopped paying attention.
This was even more discouraging.
The little one-winged cicada climbed to the top of the tree again. Maybe, just maybe, it could learn to fly if it started even higher up.
It leapt from the highest branch of the tree and flapped its one wing as hard as it could, but, again, it did not fly. It circled around and around and around and around until it landed, awkwardly, on the ground.
The other cicadas, however, thought this game looked fun. So they all quickly flew, not slowly climbed, to the top of the trees in the yard. Then they all circled down to the ground. They called this “the spiral game” and all the cicadas were having a fun time playing the spiral game.
The one-winged cicada was happy. It had invented a game (not on purpose, but that was okay) that the other cicadas enjoyed playing.
A few hours later, though, none of the cicadas were playing the spiral game anymore. They had tired of it.
This made the one-winged cicada sad again.
The one-winged cicada sat on a tree branch. It was hungry, but it saw no reason to bother to eat. The little girl was right. Seventeen years underground only to emerge with just one wing. Broken. Useless. What a waste!
Why even bother to eat?
The next day when the one-winged cicada woke up, there was another cicada sitting nearby. It also only had one wing. Only a right wing. The other wing.
The one-winged cicada, our original one-winged cicada which we will now call “Left Wing,” flapped his one wing. His left wing.
The new one-winged cicada, which we will call “Right Wing,” softly flapped her one wing, too. Her right wing.
“Do you think,” asked Left Wing, “that we can work together to fly?”
Right Wing said, “Unsure, but we should definitely try.”
So Left Wing hopped onto Right Wing and they both flapped their one wings as hard as they could.
But no luck.
They could hover only a few inches off the ground. They soon got tired and fell, the one short inch, awkwardly, into the short grass.
“Maybe if we start higher?” suggested Left Wing.
Right Wing shook her head. “I am too afraid that we will fall to the ground and it will hurt. Or, worse, break my one wing.”
“If we start to fall, we can let go of each other and play the spiral game to the ground.”
Right Wing shook her head, again. “I’d rather not,” she said.
This made Left Wing somewhat frustrated. “You don’t want to even try to fly?”
“We did try,” Right Wing reminded Left Wing.
“But not from far up!” said Left Wing.
Right Wing was quiet for a long time and then, softly she said, “I don’t want to fail to fly any more. It makes me too sad.”
So they both sat on the ground being sad together.
Every now and then, Left Wing flapped his one wing slowly, which made them both even sadder.
The next morning, Right Wing looked around the yard and saw a lot of bugs with no wings at all.
Left Wing saw a line of very small bugs that looked like three tiny circles stuck together. “What’s are those bugs called?” Left Wing asked Right Wing.
“Those are ants,” replied Right Wing.
“They have no wings at all,” Left Wing explained with some excitement.
“They are not supposed to have wings,” responded Right Wing. “They have strength and great path finding skills.”
Left Wing saw a mid-sized bug that looked like it had lots of scales. “What is that bug called?” he asked Right Wing.
“That’s a pill bug,” replied Right Wing.
“It also has no wings,” Left Wing explained again with the same, well, almost the same, excitement.
“It is not supposed to have wings,” responded Right Wing. “It can become a ball and its scales protect it from being eaten by bigger bugs and birds.”
Left Wing hurried over to the pill bug and touched it. Just as Right Wing said, the pill bug become a ball and was as hard as a rock. Left Wing laughed. “That’s a great trick!” it exclaimed. Left Wing tried and tried and tried to become a ball, too, but could barely bend into a U shape. This made Left Wing sad. “Why can’t I become a ball?” Left Wing asked.
“You are not supposed to be able to become a ball,” Right Wing explained.
Left Wing tried a few more times, but couldn’t make the ‘become a ball’ trick work. He stopped trying.
So they both sat on the ground, again, being sad together.
Finally, Left Wing said, “I wish I knew what I was supposed to be.”
The next day, when it woke up, Left Wing noticed that Right Wing was gone.
This made Left Wing as sad as he had ever been in his short life. “I have only one wing,” he said aloud to no one as he flapped his one wing three times, “and now I have lost my one friend.”
No sooner had the words left Left Wing’s mouth than it saw Right Wing walking back with a leaf in her mouth. Right Wing dropped the leaf next to Left Wing and said, “For your breakfast.” Then Left Wing added, “I believe I figured out what you are supposed to be. Do you know what it is?”
Left Wing knew the answer, but he asked, anyway. “What am I supposed to be?”
Right Wing smiled and responded, “My friend.”
Left Wing smiled back. “I believe I will be very good at that,” he said.
The two cicadas were very happy.
The last day, the little human girl returned to the back yard and saw Left Wing on a small tree. She had a friend with her, another little human girl, but this one had black hair.
“Ha ha! There you are, stupid one-winged bug.” Just at that moment, Right Wing walked around the tree.
“Hey,” said the little human girl. “There is another cicada with only one wing. And it has the other wing.”
The second little human girl, the black-haired one, declared, “So cute! Together they have both wings.”
The black-haired human girl said, “Hey! Let’s join arms and pretend we’re both one-winged cicadas.” Then she added, more seriously, “And perhaps we can try to do our chores together, but me only using my left arm and you only using your right arm. I bet that would be hard. And fun.”
The first little human girl watched Left Wing and Right Wing for a while and then, softly, leaned right down to Left Wing and whispered, “I am glad, actually, that you found your other half.”
Then the two little human girls locked their inside arms and started flapping their outside arms and running and hopping around the back yard.
Left Wing watched them and expected to feel very sad that the two human girls were making a game of out of having his and Right Wing’s problem.
But Left Wing did not feel sad at all. In fact, he was quite happy.
©2019 Stuart B Baum, Illustrated by Gryffon Baum