Chapter 13> April 2011: The Fireflies

Fun Fact: If you’re going to commit to doing a blog for the whole month of March, it’s incumbent upon you to remember to load your computers power chord on the last day of spring break as you leave school. Especially if you, as I, have committed to writing a single story…which is actually stored on a word document first and foremost (not on the blog). AND your roommates, who all use the same computer, are gone. There goes four days. But I’m back again. Let’s keep this going…

Muggy. Rydell hadn’t thought she’d ever used the word before. But, that’s what it was, muggy. Walking through the tall grass of the field turned out to be more of a chore than she had anticipated. The muggy air coalesced on her skin and seemed to make it sticky. The nearly waist high grass clung to the condensation along her body as she waded through it.

“You go that’a way and I’ll go ‘round the bend over yonder and we’ll meet up next to the creek.” Rydell had nodded along, clearly seeing the said creek in the fading light of sunset. Now however, the sun was below the hills and only a faint glow silhouetted the small rise and indentation of the land beyond her.

She was pretty sure it was diagonal, the direction Tommy had sent her, from one corner fence post to the other on the opposite side of the field. However, now that the light had all but died she was unsure if she was still heading the right way. Her hand was constantly in front of her, groping in a blind effort to make contact with the post, a circular contraption of what looked like wire filled with river rocks larger than her head stacked nearly as tall as her five foot frame.

The plan was simple, split up. Tommy had thought this would be the most beneficial idea. The cold glass of the mason jar was gripped tight in Rydell’s palm, faintly glowing with intermittent pulses of light. She’d found a fair number of fireflies within ten feet of stepping into the field.

Tommy thought their best strategy was to each take a container and head in different directions. Fewer bodies was less likely to startle the glowing insects and more than one catcher at a time would mean double the amount they could harvest in the 30 minutes they had to gather them. Violet Stills had agreed to sound a large triangle chime (she called a dinner bell) hanging from her front porch when the time had elapsed, effectively calling all teams back to the house to count and compare their catch.

Each team had set off in different directions, with their own scheme for how to win. Rydell had been delighted when Elam’s younger sister had declared they were to be teammates. To say she had been nervous about meeting his family was an understatement. But much like meeting Hawkeye and then Elam, she seemed to fall into them like she was meant to be there. Their warm embrace of her and her family was comforting and peaceful, like sitting at home in her most comfortable pair of pajamas sipping hot-coco on a chilled night. The awkwardness she had always expected in meeting new people wasn’t there. She was free to be herself, and be accepted in return.

Rydell stopped to catch her breath, what breath she could catch in the thick soupy air, and reassess her direction through the field. That’s when a small flutter caught in her peripheral vision. The grass was swaying, and not just with the wind. Stalks of grass seemed to be pressed aside as something made its way through them, something low to the ground that couldn’t be seen above their feathered tops.

She froze, insensitively holding her breath and shrinking in on herself trying to hide among the foliage. She could hear it now. Soft padded footsteps loping through the field, heavy panting following the movement in a staccato beat. She bit her lip and closed her eyes. If some wild animal was about to make a meal out of her she didn’t want to look into it’s glowing eyes as it did. Closer and closer, the sound grew louder with it’s approach until she could feel it’s hot breath around her ankle sniffing her, presumably savoring the meal before the first bite. Sweat began in earnest now, trailing down from her temples and the nape of her hairline into the collar of her shirt.

She gulped reflexively and then promptly screamed full blast as a heavy weight reached out and landed squarely on shoulder accompanied by a whispered voice as slow as molasses, “why in heavens name are your eyes shut.”

“ELAM!” she yelped and slapped him across the bicep as hard as she could muster. “You scared the living daylights out of me!”

Elam’s dark figure now crouched in a barely distinguishable dark mass across from her was vibrating with unsuppressed laughter.

…The chapter is to be continued tomorrow.

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