Fireflies

Inspired by a ficly created here: http://ficly.com/stories/691
It is a working draft at the moment, so certain elements are subject to change while I continue the story. Your commentary and critique are welcome!

She turned away from me laughing, her hand reaching up to open a cupboard. We were in her kitchen. The spare light of evening lay in between us like a gossamer blanket. That transparent. That full of possibilities, of stones unturned and doors unopened.

She opened the cupboard, her profile in sharp relief against the raised wood of the cupboard door. She had a classic face with an upturned nose, a delicate jaw, and obsidian eyes that flashed fire whenever she was excited over something. A face made for cameos, made for photographs taken in sepia.

I cupped my face in my hands and just stared, drinking her in. She hummed lightly as she rooted around in the cupboard, a habit of hers whenever she was concentrating. I couldn’t discern the tune and this bothered me, somehow.

“Ah, here it is,” she sighed with satisfaction as she removed a large mason jar from the cupboard.

“What’s that for?” I asked.

She turned towards me with a ready smile. “This is for the fireflies you and I are going to catch tonight.”

"Do you know I've never seen a firefly?"

She closed the cupboard and turned toward me, her wide eyes even wider in her small face. "Really?"

"Yeah. I didn't even know we had them here in Miami."

"Well, you are going to see your first firefly tonight, buster. Just you stick with me."

I felt like telling her I'd stick with her no matter what, to remind her I'd been sticking with her since the seventh grade. But I've learned there are moments you speak up and moments you keep the words inside, hidden, waiting for the day when you'll really need them.

 

This is not a love story. Let me make that clear. Love stories have definitive beginnings and definitive endings. A plot, a conflict, and a resolution -- the sickly sweet happy ending where our happy couple skips off into the sunset, hand in hand, while the violins thrum madly in the background.

That's not going to happen here. At least, I don't see it happening. Ever. And I'm OK with that. At least, that's what I keep telling myself.

But I suppose I should fashion a beginning of sorts, since I still have your attention.

 

I met Ingrid in the seventh grade.We were both enrolled at Holy Cross Elementary school, a Catholic private school. I was the nerd with glasses and the knobby knees and the voice that couldn't decide whether it was treble or baritone. She was the bully with buck teeth and pigtails.

I was down on my knees in the playground, the glasses having been knocked off my face by my friendly classmate Jose. I was blind as a bat's grandmother and couldn't see where my glasses had landed. The next thing I knew, a foot landed in my face and I landed on my back with a breathless "oof!" that sounded somehow comical, like something from a cartoon. Only I wasn't laughing. I was crying. Jose was now on top of me, punching me repeatedly in the nose. There was both dirt and blood in my mouth.

"What's going on here?" came the strident voice I recognized from my third period Social Studies class. It belonged to the girl with buck teeth and pigtails, the one whose hand was perpetually in the air, the one who always had the right answers. The one who cut everyone else in line in the cafeteria and nobody bothered because she was taller than the tallest boy in the whole school. If anything, I was more scared of her than of Jose.

'Why don't you mind your own business, Beaver."

That was the name everyone called her behind her back. This may have been the first time anyone had dared to say it to her face.

"What. Did. You. Just. Say," she said in a menacing voice. I was inching away from Jose, having found my glasses near a bush. I could dimly see that a large crowd was gathering around us, the noiseless hush of their attention gathering more students.

I shoved my glasses back on and winced. The nose was definitely broken. But at least I could see again. And Jose was looking mighty nervous. I watched him gulp and stutter over a response. Watched her hand flash forward and (wonder of wonders) karate chop him. Watched him crumple to the ground in a messy heap.

Watched her head my way, a purposeful look on her face.

Before I could even blink, she was reaching out a hand towards me. I'll admit it -- I flinched. So would have you after having witnessed the Karate Kid in action.

"The name's Ingrid. I think you're in my Science class."

"A-A-Actually, it's Social Studies. And my name is Jack."

"Whatever. It's nice to meet you, Jack."

Her hand was warm in my hand. Her smile was warm, too. I smiled back nervously but then stopped when I realized the action made my face hurt.

"Come on, Jack," she said, still holding on to my hand with a resolute grip. "Let's go get you some ice."

The End

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