Old Ben and his wife bought a place in the countryside to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. For the price of their modest apartment in the city, they got a piece of land that was big enough to raise goats and chickens, and all the crops they needed to sustain themselves almost independently. Their independence was essential because they were so far from the city. That was the cost of living free, and Old Ben was happy to pay that price.
Their place was just beyond the hills that formed the boundary of the big, marshy lake. The winds blew steadily all year round, and legend said that when the lake emptied, a lake in China filled, and vice versa. It was a pretty great place to live.
A time came when things changed around the community. Big companies had come and stirred the pot. Also, the crops weren’t quite giving back as much as they once had; Ben needed more medical attention than he ever did before; and his wife was doing more than her fair share around the farm. They took it upon themselves to sell the property.
“You’re inviting buyers in the middle of summer? That’s when the cicadas are noisiest.” Said Ben’s wife. She saw the ad that he’d put in the newspaper over her morning home-grown apple juice.
“Naturally.” Ben gulped down a couple of home-grown fried eggs. “It’s the only way we can deal with ‘the problem.’ ”
Inspection day arrived and the prospective buyers showed up at noon, when the cicadas were deafening. Picture a million big insects with bulging red eyes munching on gum leaves and peeing down eucalyptus oil, all whilst screaming for a mate – your eardrums rattle in the cacophony. Ben assured people “they’re only noisy this time of year.”
“So the rest of the time it’s peaceful?” People would ask.
“The cicadas are only noisy this time of year” he’d repeat.
Ben made the sale to a businessman who wanted a hobby-farm. He was rude and arrogant and talked Ben’s asking price down by a huge margin. The businessman didn’t know that Ben was a better businessman. Ben walked away with more than he expected. The businessman had brought his lawyer. He paid in cash. He finalised everything before the sun had set and he tore off in his Bentley which was now covered in cicada pee.
Ben sighed as he stood on his verandah in the steady breeze, listening to the last of the cicadas’ songs for the day. The sky turned from orange to purple as the sun set, and the sound of the wind turbines began to dominate the evening air.
Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh.