There must have been a house, but I can’t recall what it looked like because all I can remember was the field.
We drove for forever, it seemed! Buildings gave way to sleepy ‘burbs, that then surrendered to expansive farms. At dusk, we arrived. And the field… a wide cast open swath of earth. I was a city kid, and the breadth of this space impressed me.
My mother went to sit with the parents around the bonfire, and I noticed that the kids were running towards the open area of tall grass. I was a transparent child, the daughter of a nervous and occasionally vicious mother. But that night she sunk deep into a lawn chair, sipping a slow gin fizz and set her children free.
As I followed the other kids, the grass on my legs felt heavy with dew and it tickled me lightly. I could hear the sound of my heart pulsing in my ears, the way I was running along… needless, reckless, heading towards somewhere in an undiscovered world.
I couldn’t make out the faces of the other children in the darkness, so I didn’t need to ask their names or tell them mine. Laughter… without direction, we were thrust into forward motion when the fireflies began to blink. Mason jars appeared and we all ran together, in hot pursuit.
Our small hands toted the moving lanterns as we raced to stow away the flickering lights. I wasn’t much good at catching the sparkles, I preferred to watch in amazement as they blinked on and off.
A tall girl handed me a jar and told me to hold it so the big kids could fill it up. My breath began to steady and even out. I stood very still, gripping tightly to the round of the cool hard glass, carefully unscrewing the lid when a child approached with a firefly. I used my tiny palm to hold the precious glows inside as each new one was added.
The moon rose high in the night sky. In the distance, we could hear the voices of parents beckoning their children in one by one. With the innocence only a child could possess, I looked to the sky and wished upon a star that my name wouldn’t be called.
At that instant, for the first time in my young life, I recognized that this moment was almost over and there was nothing I could do about it. Almost already gone… I felt sorrowful in this epiphany.
I heard my mother’s shrill call.
I set the fireflies free, watching them climb like a string of Christmas lights into the night. I looked about one last time, taking in a deep breath, before turning towards the bonfire, and moving with urgency, back to where my mother stood waiting.