Fantasy Horror Historical Bugs Monsters survival Metamorphasis

The Cicadas of Okinawa

By Stephanie Lorée
1,189 words · 5-minute reading time

selective focus photography of june beetle

Photo by Ellicia via Unsplash.

From the author: Originally published at Penumbra magazine, a Tangent online recommended read of 2013, later reprinted in Niteblade Magazine and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. *TRIGGER WARNING* During the Battle of Okinawa and the following occupation, 76 cases of rape were reported. Historians estimate hundreds more went unreported. This is a story about one woman's survival through metamorphosis.


In the spring of 1945, it rained cicada skins and bullets.

I lay on the dirt just outside my house, face forced against the ground, arms pinned under my breasts. Around me, the cicada shells fell like cherry blossoms. One landed near my nose, and I met its vacant gaze. It seemed to study me, this broken bit, a discarded memory. It frowned as if to say, I'm sorry, I cannot stop him, but I will stay with you until it's over.

Behind me, on top of me, the man continued to move. He'd painted his face black and carried a rifle, dragged me from my home by my ankles and pressed me down. Four like him stood by, watching, waiting. Their boots crunched the cicada skins to dust, and the air was rife with their gun smoke and sweat.

The man grunted. I did not understand his words, but his knuckles had delivered their meaning. A gash along my temple throbbed. I tasted metal and mud and the salt-sweet of tears. The man jammed his forearm across my mouth so I could not beg him to stop, so he could...

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