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Fireflies This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Through the little window in our living room, the darkening sunset was slowly disappearing over the lake. The hill that led down to the pier was steep, so my mom carried my brother, Jimmy, who was four at the time. My hair was pulled into one of Mom's French braids. We had just finished our mac and cheese; our kitchen smelled like hot dogs and pasta.

My brother was dozing into a dreamy sleep, but I saw bright green flashes every so often that made me stop and stare. My mother turned around at the tallest edge of the hill. She smiled at my interest in these little objects floating around us. I was too engrossed in them to realize that I had continued to walk.

“Come on. We are going to see the fireworks.” My mother continued to walk down the hill as I took in what she said, still wondering what these things were in the night sky. What glowed green and floated like the stars in the sky? I was speechless as my blue eyes traced the green lights floating in air. I reached out to touch one and it fluttered away. I was convinced they were butterflies that could glow.

My dad was waiting by the pier and waved to us. I slowly walked down the hill with my mother, holding her left hand tightly. My tiny legs couldn't move as fast as hers without tripping down the steep hill.

“What are those?” I stared into the dark sky with all the green lights floating and disappearing every so often, hoping for an answer. She smiled. She sat my brother down beside me and reached up, catching a green light from the dark sky. I couldn't help but giggle. I didn't know you could catch them.

“Fireflies. See?” She opened her hands. The little object that beamed the beautiful light was none other than a bug with wings. I touched it, and it fluttered into the sky and glowed once more. My mom picked up my brother again, and we walked onto the pier.

The smell of fish and algae made me scrunch up my nose as my dad's big hands picked me up and placed me into the boat. The boat had been cleared of all the fishing poles he'd used earlier that morning. He buckled a life jacket securely around me, and my mom handed my dad Jimmy as I sat and looked over the edge and watched the fireflies skim just above the surface of the water. My dad kissed my forehead softly and I hugged him tightly before he went to start the engine.

The water had once been very clean – you could see all the way to the bottom with all the guppies and little fish beneath the surface. Now it was blanketed by a layer of thick, green algae. My brother curled up next to me and my mom sat on his other side. His little brown eyes were peacefully shut and his head rested on my left shoulder so comfortably I could have stayed there in that moment forever.

The boat started, and my dad's voice was lost in the monotonous hum of the engine. I watched as the fireflies danced over the water like ballet dancers. My mom's arm wrapped around us with the warm quilt she made before I was born, and I cuddled into my brother and Mom. I watched as the shore seem to pull farther and farther from us. Soon the green blinking lights were gone and all that was there was the warm embrace of my mom and brother and the faint memory of the little firefly in my mother's hand, unwilling to blink until it was able to fly away.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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