The Chirps of Dead Crickets

Walking through Johnson’s Woods, I close my eyes and listen, enraptured by the sound of crickets chirping in the trees and grasses around me. I think about what those chirps mean: calls of loneliness and anxiety, reaching out for companionship or nervously marking territory.
Then I notice something off.
One of the chirps seems to be getting louder.
As a classmate passes me on the boardwalk, I realize that her phone is going off. Her ringtone, coincidentally, is the sound of a cricket chirping. I chuckle at the realization, then stop to consider its implications.
When those crickets were recorded for that ringtone, they were chirping for a reason. Like the crickets around me now, they were seeking a mate or a space of their own, setting their boundaries or calling others in to join them.
The average cricket lives for less than ninety days. Those crickets are long dead.
And yet they still chirp. Their song still fills the air, and now their kind hear it and respond, in conversation with the dead.

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