We sit in the woods and we shine. We light. We point our flashlights at bugs to show them the way home. We point our lights at the trees to remind them it’s time to wake up. And, we point our lights at the lady who camps there. She thinks she’s alone, that we are fireflies.
We would like to be. Had karma been nicer to us, perhaps we would be. Instead, we make do with these human forms with no inner light of our own. So, we hunt lights to keep with us, to light the way in this darkness of the woods. A flash light. A laser light. Perhaps the light from a cell phone. Anything can light your way, even if poorly, when you have no light of your own.
She has a dog. It hates us. It sits by her tent barking when we shine the light in its eyes during the day. She can’t see the lights so yells at the dog for barking. It barks and howls and turns away from us. We make our way around to the other side of her clearing, slowly, quietly and begin again. Again, her dog changes, stretches, jumps for our lights to catch them, then runs away in fear as we follow it with our beams.
But, she can see none of this. Our lights from the store only follow her at night. When they’re fireflies. Shining your light during the day is an amazing feat. We are the sun, but not the sun. Better. The sun has no movement of its own. Sure, it flies through the sky but not due to its own will. It may be fire, but we have choice.
And dance. Our lights dance over the dog. It runs. It jumps. It howls. She comes out and yells at it again. She used to look puzzled. She used to be sympathetic. Now, she occasionally throws a soda can at it, telling it to shut up. She yells at it more often.
Now, when it sees her, it no longer looks for help from the lights. It is worried. The dog does not sleep. It paces. And she does not understand why.
It lays on the ground, seldom stretched out anymore, more often in a ball, protecting itself from what she does not know. Now she is sympathetic again, she pats its head. But it can not be comforted. It has gone somewhere past her warm hand and the smell of pork chops. It is somewhere past the sun, the real sun. It is with us. Nobody thought that was where it was supposed to go. But it’s here now. And I don’t want it to go back.
Meriwether O’Connor is a farmer, short story writer and columnist.
To comment on this story, visit Fiction365’s Facebook page