Book excerpt:Crickets by lee Chappel

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It’s the feeling of being alone, or maybe just knowing it, that gets me. That must be why I hear

things—outside, first, rustling, probably a raccoon or a squirrel.

I go upstairs and turn on the TV. Golden Girls won’t be on for a while, so I click over to the house

channel, another renovation. It should distract me, I think, should keep my mind on house ideas instead

of on these things I hear in my head and Leah and Brent and whatever we are now that’s turned me into

a liar, too.

I look at the nightstand clock. It’s 7:15; Cody will be here soon, maybe even in time for the big

reveal at the end of the show. It’s just some new tile and landscaping and a couple commercials away.

I focus on the show, and when I hear the crickets—all at once, this time, and loud—I tell myself

they’re in my head. They have to be. The ground’s frozen after last night’s snow. But they just keep

getting louder.

I turn off the TV when I can’t stand it anymore, then open the door and turn on all the house lights

I can reach like the light might make them quiet.

They don’t stop. I run down the stairs. My breath catches at the bottom, when it’s just my

reflection in the big mirror. I must have thought I’d see something behind me.

I cross the kitchen and slap the switch for the outside lights. The wind’s blown a few leaves across

the deck. That’s something I can see, the leaves and the giant maple and the edge of the floodlight in

the corner. And the coffee pot and the faucet. That’s five. I can feel my heartbeat, the blood rushing

through my legs like I’m going to run—what from I don’t know. I know I can’t outrun this. I can feel

the tile under my feet, the brush of my sleeves across my wrists, the vents blowing warm air over my


But all I hear are the crickets.

I sit down at the table and wait. I’m not sure what for. I breathe, hold my fingers like I used to, start

tapping on pressure points and imagining this screaming in my head fading away.

It doesn’t. Then everything goes dark.


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