Fireflies flash and dim in the darkness. I look over at her, wondering how long it’s been since she’s blinked. Her eyes sparkle with wonder and awe, her mouth is slightly agape. I feel the corners of my own mouth curl as I watch her tiny hands reach toward the sky—curling and straightening her fingers—as if to beckon them.
She wiggles her toes over the edge of the patio before stepping into the dewy grass. Her chubby little arms hang in the air as she ventures deeper into the backyard. Her giggles trail behind her like the sweetest music I’ve ever heard. When she turns to look back at me, her smile glows brightly against the inky sky.
The string around my heart—the one that connects us—begins to pull as she nears the shadows at the edge of the yard. I watch as they hug the baby fat on her legs. As they slowly spread around her tiny body. Then, one last step. She’s gone. Completely engulfed in the darkness.
Where the light keeps me sane, the dark illuminates the ache.
I fight the urge to race toward the fence line. To seek her out in the shadows. I know she’s not there. That she never was...yet she always will be.
Every night. Flashes of memory are followed by a hollow and I long for the next spark. A twinkling in the distance shakes me from my thoughts and I know it’s her. My own, beautiful little firefly.