Fireflies

July 26, 2010
Custom User Avatar
More by this author
The sparrow saw the sun melting into the horizon, and he raced the purple leaking from the last rays to his nest. He cracked his toes on the sticks, and re-arranged them with the sharp end of his beak. Fluffing his feathers, he wiggled down deep. Just as his eyes were closing, the sound of rubber grating against cement.

“What book did you get?”

“A collection of Grimn’s fairytales.”

“You’re going read that tonight?”

“Yeah, I think I’ll start it.”

“Interesting choice for a nighttime read.”

“Why?”

“Well, they’re kind of gruesome.”

“What do you mean? I saw the Disney movies on Cinderella and
all that.”

“Yeah, no, they’re not at all like that. Lots of blood and gore.”

“Oh.”

Two girls scuffed their shoes on the sidewalk lit by lamplight. One, the younger one, blushed in embarrassment of her ignorance. She was curve-less in the most charming way. A fuchsia tank top fell over her featureless chest, and stopped just above hips that puberty gently prodded to grow. Her older sister gazed ahead with eyes, eyes that held the jaded boredom born from years of assaults from hormones upon bodies and emotions.

“What did you get?”

“Nothing. I got enough reading to do, with summer assignments.”

“Oh... highschool sounds like it sucks.”

The older girl grinned, showing just the edges of her teeth. Her sister was given a boost of confidence. This smile was rare, and pleasing despite being extremely sarcastic.

“Fireflies!” The littler one clapped her hands, eyes lit up like the bottoms of the insects.

“Yeah, so?”

“I’ve never seen them before.”

“Okay.”

The pregnant pause seemed lightweight, floating through the humid air.

“Lets get a jug of juice!”

“Why.” Adolescent disinterest made the older one’s voice monotone.

“So we can empty it out.”

“Still making no sense.”

“I want to put fireflies in the jug.”

“What! Why?”

“I like them.”

“Doesn’t mean you have to capture them.”

“…But I want them.”

“Leave them alone.”

The little girl shut her mouth, then said “You go on, I’m going to stay here and look at them.”

“Okay. Don’t bother them though. I’ll see you at home.”

Footsteps echoed away. Toes wiggled in the unfamiliar Iowa grass after the flip-flops were cast thoughtlessly aside. Girlish hands grasped at the lightning bugs with the grace of a woman. The sound of soft giggles penetrated the humid night air, and was drowned out by the chirping of gossiping crickets. Their minuscule beady eyes watched her pounce, then sit, content, as the space around her was lit up by miniature blinking lanterns. They dashed about, glowing and signing in something like Morse code. Trees loomed beside lampposts, creating shadows that crept up the walls of buildings, over windows of apartments behind which bachelors strummed lonesome chords on their guitars and lovers kissed over candle light. Some of them thought about the husbands and wives they were betraying that night, while the guitarists wished they possessed a human to love and deceive. One man leaned out his window sniffing the darkness. A heavy, moist breeze ruffled his toupee, which sat somewhat crookedly on his egg-shaped head. Moths drifted in threw the window and danced about the bare lightbulb hung from the ceiling, with all the loneliness of a man who has been hung. For some of the winged insects, it was a dance of death. He breathed deeply, and inhaled a mosquito. Coughing and spitting, the key he held tightly clenched in a sweaty palm fell to the ground below him, just a few feet from the young girl.


It landed with an inaudible thud, bending the weaker blades of grass. The sudden movement caused her to glance to the side. Her eyes trailed up the path it must have tumbled down, to the twitching nervous eyes of an older man. He vanished from the window, and appeared at the tip of the key a few moments later. Khaki pants covered legs infested with purple stretch marks, and fell over soft brown loafers. His arms were bulky, yet failed to be very muscular. He had the fingers of a pianist, long and clever. They writhed at his sides, with lives of their own.

“Hello little girl.” He smiled to her.





“Hi.”

“What are you doing out here?”

“Looking at fireflies sir.” She twisted the tips of her fingers together.

“Interesting little bugs aren’t they?”

“Yes.”

“Do you know why their tails light up?”

“No sir.”

“Its all because of chemicals in their cells. Like luciferin.” His tongue took a tour around his lips, wetting them.

“I don’t know what that is.”

“You’ll learn about it in school.”
He paused.

“You know, they light up to… to attract a mate.”

“That’s interesting sir.” She felt the wet air flattening her hair.

“Yes it is, it really is.”


He shuffled a little closer, and sat down next to her. A little sweat trickled from beneath his hairpiece. A whistling noise emitted from his nostrils as he breathed in and out, and he snorted every now and then, a repulsive sound that clashed against the gentle silence.

“What’s your name little girl?”

“Trisha, sir.” She replied politely.

“Nice name. You’re new here yes?”

“Yes.”

“How new?”

“I got here last week.” She ripped up little blades of grass unconsciously.

“Do you live close by?” He asked her.

“A few blocks away.” Uneasiness crept into her veins.

“You can call me Mr. Ricochet.”

“Okay.”

He studied his fingernails, and bit the grit from beneath them out with his teeth.

“Do you want to catch a firefly?” His eyes studied the firebug’s paths.

“My sister said I should let them fly free.”

“Oh you can later, it would be fun to hold it for just a moment, wouldn’t it?”

“I guess so...” She bit her lip.

“Watch.”

His veiny hands calculated the movements of the insects, eyes darting to the bursts of light all around him. Swiftly, he flicked his wrists and palms together. From between his fingertips, a slight flutter of light presented itself. The girl stared, fascinated by the panicked movements of its legs.

“Let it go?”

“You could have it you know.”

“No it looks scared let it go.”
He held onto it just a little longer, reveling in its miniscule beauty and its fear, before letting it escape. They sat for awhile, the girl confused by his fascination with the fireflies terror.

“Trisha, do you enjoy oreos?”

“Yes, I think so.”

He pulled a package from his pants pocket, and she could see it was already opened. Trisha accepted the cookie anyways. It was softened from the warmth of his bloated thigh and the damp weather of the night. The oreo crumbled easily between her teeth, and slid down her throat to the pit of her stomach where it was assaulted by acids and dissolved, so that chemicals could escape to her bloodstream.

“Are you going to have one mister?”

“No, I’m not particularly hungry”

“Okay.”

“You know how long fireflies live?”

“No sir. How long?” She did not like this man, but the fireflies had her intrigued.

“Well, you see, while the larvae live for approximately a year, the adults live just long enough to mate and reproduce. How long this is I am not sure. Not too long I assume.”

There was this odd repetition of the idea of mating that put the girl off a little. She moved her legs slightly to the left, away from his body which was sluggishly drawing nearer. The reason why did not occur to her.

“You live up there sir?”

“Yes, I do. Its not the most appealing of apartments but it uh, it suits my needs.” Then he winked, just a flutter of movement in the sparse murky light provided by a lamppost.

She felt his eyes on her, though she wasn’t sure why he was looking at her. Her fingers brushed a strand of hair behind her ear. The contours of his face looked odd in the shadows, and she was unable to tell the colour of his eyes or the exact shape of his lips. Exhaustion had begun to seep into her system, and the fetus of a yawn grew and was birthed from her jaws.

“Are you tired, Trisha?”

“Yes sir. I think I’m going to bed now.”

“Excellent idea. Goodnight little girl.” Despite the shades of dark over his face, she could see the muscles twisting into a smile onto his face. She stood, and brushed the grass off the back of her shorts. The strands fell gently to where they came from, and a shiver journeyed through the crevices of her body as she began to walk. She stumbled ever so slightly, her vision blackening, briefly lit up from the light of fireflies. Her hands reached out to hold them.


**
A heavy set man emerged from the bushes, holding a key, which the curious eyes from other windows assumed he had lost, triumphantly in his hands. He made his way up dimly lit stairs to watch moths dance their tango to hell.
**
The sun rose over Iowa City, and slowly the people began waking up. A night of good sleep, of wonderful or horrific dreams, or a night of mistakes hung blearily in the population’s eyes as they washed their faces and made breakfast. Sparrows hopped along the heating sidewalk. One sparrow in particular found a seed upon the cement, and with furtive glances in either direction, flew off with it. He flitted between branches of trees, winked his eyes as the wind blew into his face. A windowsill appeared safe to him, so he landed, and proceeded to gulp down his lucky find.

Through the glass dripping with stains, he could see a locked door, with steps leading down to a gum and alcohol stained floor. On it, a spindly girl woke, squirming with the pain that woke her.
Her memory was a deep purple blur, with no intention of focusing for the time being. Trisha’s eyes were blurry with sleep, and she clenched at herself. The basement floor ground against the palms of her hands. Her pants were damp, and a deep ache clasped her abdomen. Eyes widening, she removed her jeans. Wincing when she moved her legs, to reveal the plethora blotches of black and blue and green all over her skin. They bloomed in the fertile earth of her body, pulsed like wasps under her epidermis. A rouge shade was dried and peeling off her thighs, a rouge so bright it seemed surreal. The fluttering of wings outside her window brought her out of her daydream, and the sparrow took off.

He began to soar as the sound of the young girl’s wail pierced the air. Beneath his wings the city sunk lower and lower. Below him, gelato dripped down the side of a cup, and a little girl, with valentine-card red hair tied in uneven pigtails with tailing ribbons, licked the trail off the side. Near by, a slightly crippled older man held open the door of his ancient automobile for his wife, who wished he would just get rid of it as it spewed grey exhaust. The sparrow circled over a bland apartment building, a few meters from the basement he had been at, that had moss, hungry and desperate, crawling up the side. It seeped under the entrance door as well. Just barely touched the grimy floors of the hallway behind the glass doors. It was littered with mud, and with the crumbling soles from people’s shoes. The crumbling souls of people’s bodies. Hung crookedly from the left wall was a picture of the state capitol building, meant to induce some sort of homely feeling. Next to it was the staircase, which taunted overweight citizens and those with extremely large suitcases, as it knew it was the only option. Three floors up this staircase lead to the moth’s ballroom. A television flickered in the corner, featuring intricate films such as “Girls Gone Wild!” and “16 and Pregnant”. In front of this holy TV was a lounge chair, decorated with the flecks of chips. Below the footrest lay a ragged rug, which used to be peach in colour, but now was a unique mix of Dorito orange cheese and dirt.

On the kitchen table sat a glass container, nondescript, with holes poked in the top by a fork. Inside it, were insects with weakened wings. Some quivered on the bottom, while others fluttered in a trance around and around the sides of the jars. Their tails lit a trembling light. They never seemed to glow like they did outside, thought the man sitting at the table, as he turned a key over and over in his hands.





Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback