fireflies

She whispered from the bunk above me. “I think we can go now. She must be asleep.”

Quietly, like a cat, she jumped down from her bed, while I crawled out from under my own covers below. A dim light from under the door helped us navigate across the room we shared. We ever so quietly tiptoed out into the hall, past the bedroom where Mom slept. All of us kids, we sure wore her out, but we also knew she would awaken at the slightest of noises. We prayed the floor wouldn’t squeak nor our ankles make a crack.

Stifling giggles and trying not to stumble in our excitement, we went down the stairs to the landing. Ah yes, the big door was still standing open, letting the cool night air stream in. That meant Pop, ever the night owl, was still up. Probably down in the family room watching TV or reading a book. Some of our siblings were likely still be up with him. No school for the summer meant later bedtimes for the older kids, though not for us.

Please don’t make a sound, we can’t be stopped before we’ve started, I thought as we pushed open the screen door and let ourselves out from dark house into the darker beyond. We might not get another ideal opportunity.

The concrete steps were cold on my bare feet, and the grass colder still with dew drops clinging to their blades. The night air felt wonderful after such a sweltering sunny day. A light breeze prickled the skin on the back of my neck and sent a thrill down my spine.

A perfect night for fireflies.

We could see them flitting all around us, all across the wide expanse of lawn. We ran in circles, catching them in our palms. Peeking between my thumbs, I could see just blink, blink, blink, like the tiniest of signal flares sending an SOS for help. I let it go after just a moment, no harm intended. Catch another quick, feel its buzzing against my skin. Peek again. Let it go.

It was too much fun to be quiet about it. There was no doubt we would soon be caught ourselves. Our laughter pealed through the air, into the windows, waking our mother.

“Come back inside,” she called. “Go back to bed.” Not angry, but not exactly pleased. We were happy though, we’d had our romp. Did you know Mom, when we went down the hall, what we were up to? Did you purposefully let us have those few moments before you came out to get us?

I remember catching fireflies with my sister. I have no doubt she does too, though I don’t remember ever talking about it.

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