This is from my first novel – the one that refuses to go quietly –
LOST IN ORDINARY TIME.
Is it possible to still believe in something, but not be able to live up to it?
It was hot that night, perfect summer. We dosed on magic mushrooms, with peanut butter to make them taste better, and I kept complaining about how they weren’t’ working. Finally Katie asked me, “Do you want to go for a walk?”
We walked, layers peeled away, and the world began to take shape around me despite the darkness. Sometimes things don’t get started until you move around a bit, or you don’t notice anything looks different until you change your scenery. There is something so cathartic about walking too. You notice all the details that usually blur by. Our hands, clammy from the summer heat, pressed together, and I hardly even noticed at all. It felt like her hand was the natural extension of my own hand. Where one body stopped the other began and we were one person now, instead of two, fused together.
We strolled under the heavy boughs of a tall, stately tree. She stopped and pointed, “Look at them,” she said, her voice laced with reverence. My eyes focused as a single firefly lit up, inches from her finger. “They are all around us.” Indeed, I looked around and saw them hovering mid air in a cloud of green luminescence. We sat down on the ground, in concert with each other, in the same spot we had stood and laid our heads back side by side. We stared up together, and watched the fireflies flicker and dance around the tree.
“They are trying to mate.” I breathed the words in her ear, and she giggled. I would whisper anything she wanted to get that close to her.
“Do you know, I read fireflies only live for about thirty-six hours,” she said.
“What? That seems weird. Where did you read that?”
“I don’t know, I remember reading it and realizing that explained why all the ones I used to catch and put in a jar would be dead in the morning. It made me feel better. I hadn’t killed them, they died the way they were supposed to.”
“So, do you think these guys will be dead in the morning?” I asked her.
“Probably, but tonight is their whole life. To them tonight spans fifty or a hundred years.”
“Your right, in firefly time, these few hours stretch out longer than we could ever imagine. It is like those stars up there. To them, our lives are a blink of an eye,” I said. All around the faint flickers of light grew brighter.
When is the last time you stayed up all night for no reason?
It’s like a bad omen. My only desire was to expel this creeping bad feeling, to an open night sky. We were pressed to the ground under the blinking stars, caught up in their glory. Some of them might have burnt out thousands of years ago, though their light only reached us now. That energy carried their light forward. I looked over at her, leaning back on her elbows in the dewy grass, and I watched that star’s light fizzle out in her eyes. Her eyes were like mine, in that moment, and it hurt to see them understand never, it hurt to watch them dawn upon another harsh reality. She didn’t look at me, she kept staring at those dead stars and soon to be dead fireflies.
My light may still reach her, through her even, but it will only be a glimmer that flashes in unpredictable moment like lightning or streaking meteors that disappear before you can even say that you saw them. “I’m scared,” she said to me, never loosening her eye’s grip on the expansive darkness. “That’s good” is what I wanted to say, but the words got lost on the way to my tongue. Sometimes I can’t find the words; everything gets lost and burns out like that light trying to reach escape velocity.