My daughter’s hand was warm and sweet inside my own as she peered into the dark forest. "It's not as dark as I thought it would be," she announced.
I tried to point out the fireflies among the wildflowers, but her eyes never left the seldom-seen stars of the hazy night sky, devouring them with her entire being. "Wow," she whispered, transfixed.
A green firefly lit up in a patch of clover not far from us. She gasped. "A firefly!" The green light flashed again, and again, as she counted...poorly.
"I want to see another one mummy!" she said. So we circled our lawn, traipsing through the wet grass as we watched for fairy lights in wild places.
"We have to whisper, and tiptoe. Whisper and tiptoe." She hissed the words as she stomped through the wet in her beloved rubber boots.
She squeezed my hand tight as a moth flew too close to her face and they startled one another, but it's easy to be brave when you're old enough to be out in the dark and your friend the Moon is right there and your mummy is holding your hand. "What was that?"
"It was a moth."
"Was it a fairy moth?"
"It might have been, it's hard to tell in the dark."
As we neared our little pond a handful of fireflies whispered their luminescent greetings and we settled in to watch their frolic of twinkling phosphorescence. Some nestled in the devil's paintbrush, while the bolder ones soared as high as the branches of the nearby trees. Her eyes, glazed with the sleepiness of one who has always been in bed before dark, wandered back up to the stars in wonder.
In sitting still the mosquitoes discovered us and began their irritating feast. We swatted until she suggested we go back inside. Hand in hand we walked back to the house.
"So what did you think of the fireflies?" I asked her.
"I thought there'd be less bugs. And more fairies," she said, "But I liked them very much."
Jennifer Shelby is a speculative fiction writer who hunts for stories in the beetled undergrowth of Albert County's fairy-infested forests. jennifershelby.blog, twitter @jenniferdshelby Image of the firefly by Denis Doucet.