cut the branch you're sitting on
Joshua Abelow, Fred Escher, Susan Classen Sullivan
One time, while I stood blankly at the mouth of the crawlspace in my parent’s basement, I encountered a cave cricket. Until that point in my life, I had no idea such a thing existed. Two unfamiliar eyes stared up at me as I gazed down on the bug, confused about what I was seeing. I could see its mandibles slowly flexing, and its antennae wafting in the musty basement air. After its body had been broken by an unanticipated impact, I moved in closer to inspect the insect’s fractured form. The antennae, which once moved with agency, now resembled strands of lost hair. Its distant eyes looked up at me without judgement or forgiveness.
I went upstairs. I began to think about the possibility of other anomalies emerging from the dark corners of the basement. I began to suspect there could be an entire colony of unknown lifeforms existing in the piles of our expired familial memorabilia. After studying the discarded artifacts around them, they might come to understand aspects of a world above the basement. Having consumed the limited resources available to them, the group of interdimensional beings would become physically and emotionally starved. The footsteps from above, while once foreboding, would now spark curiosity; even being interpreted as seismic invitations. The boldest of the subterranean brood would scale the steep stairs to introduce themselves to the world above.
When I came back down an hour later, I discovered a second cricket. It loomed over what was left of the first. To my surprise the second bug had eaten all but the head and a few legs of the first. As if it understood the circumstances and mistakes of its comrade, it quickly bounded out of range into the safety of shadows.