“Why?” His voice was quiet and trembling, his throat becoming tight, making it hard to breathe. The pale-stricken man spoke with a broken heart, yet it was full of love for the one who was breaking it- his own daughter. He watched as she stood at the open door, with her big, brown eyes that used to twinkle at the sight of him. But her father could now see that that twinkle was gone and full of a pitiable, lost look- and all because of “him”. “He” was the stranger that who changed his daughter into the distant, frightened girl that was, without response, slamming the door behind her. No matter how many times she’d say she loved him, he knew “he” was the blank stare in her big, brown eyes.
I could feel his eyes watching me as I walked with Austin to the car, my hand in his. The same way my father had held mine. But I did not turn back; I didn’t look at them. I just stared straight ahead as he watched me. My father was the one who told me I couldn’t go, keeping me in a box away from the rest of the world. That is what Austin told me, reassuring that with him, I’d be able to explore the world and see everything it had to offer for us. Austin was my future, and my father was the enemy.
Slowly and silently we drove through the dark. I had no idea where we were going but wanted to get there soon and as far away from this place as possible. I felt bitter and cold, but believed that once we got to wherever we were going, I’d be at peace again. I wanted him to hold my hand again, to comfort and reassure me like he did before, but he had a concentrating, thoughtful expression on his face that made me uneasy.
“Have you been drinking?” I asked him nervously.
“Shut up and let me think!” He answered in a cold, harsh voice that rang in my ears until I turned away from him and looked out the window at the sky. Its empty blackness painted with thousands of shining stars always reminded me of fireflies, even when I was a child. I remembered lying outside in the tall grass with my father under that same sky, catching fireflies in our hands and letting them go. We would watch them fly away into the sky until we could no longer see them. The way they gracefully floated above us and into a seemingly other world made me somewhat envy their abilities to escape. That’s when my father would hold my hand and call me his little Firefly, that one-day like all the other fireflies, he’d have to let me go.
Suddenly, a fierce jerk of the car made me jump in fright, pulling me away from my nostalgic fantasy. My chest pounded anxiously as I realized we were swerving across the road, causing me to immediately try to grab the wheel; But Austin was out of control.
“Austin,” I yelled, “Austin you’re drunk!”
The blow filled me with fear, and a jolt of terror filled my veins. He yelled at me, though I couldn’t make out the words. He had struck me, and was not paying attention to the road. Tears filled my eyes, and everything was happening too quickly. The only thing I knew to do was turn away from him as I always did, and look at the stars. I wanted to go back to the comfort of my home, safe with my father under the stars. But suddenly, I felt like we had shattered into a million pieces, and so had the stars. Tires squealing, horror thoughts racing, we were flying uncontrollably off the road, rolling violently side-over-side. My head was spinning, and I could hear nothing but windows crashing in on us. It felt like we were being thrown everywhere and dragged into a tornado of fear as we continued to roll down what seemed like a never-ending tunnel.
Until finally, my eyes burst as if awakening me from a dream. But instead, I was being thrown into one.
I was in a dark place; I could see nothing at all, but could hear a distant mumbling. Though I couldn’t make out the words, I was unusually not scared in the dark place. I felt a surprising sense of warmth and comfort in this place, like nothing could hurt me here. Until then a sudden movement of release and nerves came over me as I looked up to see millions of stars and fireflies floating just below the moon. I stared in wonderment until they began to get bigger and bigger; I was floating away from the ground. Just like my childhood dream, I could escape harm. But instead, I looked down to see the last thing that would ever hurt me, my father. Hands open, tears pouring from his eyes, I was flying farther and farther away from him until I was so far off, I couldn’t see him. The more I tried to resist myself and go back to him, the more pain I felt throughout my entire body. Finally, the pain was too much to bear and a broken wing made me tumble down to what I thought was the end, but instead, returned to my comforting place. He held me, like I wanted Austin to, and then I bright light encircled us until there was nothingness.
I was awakened again and greeted by silence and a bright light above me- like a moon. I hoped to see more stars but they were not there. Instead, they were replaced by several tubes and wires connected to my painful, cadaverous body. Though I was alive, at the time I wished I could just leave myself and fly away; far, far away from here- and never look back. I thought I was alone, I’d abandoned everything that meant anything to me and I was too far off to return- I couldn’t help but cry. The tears ran down my face as if trying to release the pain from my eyes.
“I’m so sorry about Austin, Firefly.” Said a loving voice that caught me when I had a broken wing.