By Jody Keisner

March 16, 2015


Up in the air are hundreds of fireflies, like scattering sunlight. We—me and the man I've been seeing—pedal our bicycles through dusk on the Keystone Trail in eastern Nebraska. Neighborhood playgrounds and thickets of trees line either side of the cement pathway.

“It’s incredible,” he says.

We stop to rest. A firefly alights on my hand. Up close, it’s an ordinary brown beetle, winged with long antennae. But within its cells is a "living light." Bright, then dim, then bright, like a tiny paper lantern or a fairy. Or like falling in love.

Three years later.

We—me and the man I've married—stand in high grass overlooking Walnut Creek Lake. We watch our daughter move farther away from us on unsteady legs. We stand apart from each other, my arms crossed in front of my chest. A small, days-old hurt lingers in the air between us. Fireflies linger there, too. So many we could breathe them in.

"Do you remember?" he asks. Yes.

Our daughter follows the twinkle little star achingly close to the grass and dirt. She wants to touch the light, to know where it comes from. I do, too. Light disappears and reappears just out of our reach, as if magic pulled out of a hat, the dark slip of a fish's shadow on the water, or the face in the moon—something you want to catch with both hands and never let go.


Photo "Firefly on the Screen Door" provided by slgckgc, via Flickr creative commons license.

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