Precious fireflies continued to delight my summer in Frost Valley. Evening walks were a joy, there being plenty of water and meadows to provide happy habitat for the silent celebrants of the gathering darkness.
But not every night was spent in the wonder of nature. One evening I had joined Stan’s family for a bit of TV watching. I was staying in a loft over the garage, so when the show was over I headed out of Stan’s house. There was a step out the kitchen door and just as my balance shifted to land my right foot on the step — just when it was too late to change course — a firefly headed between the step and my shoe. It did not come out the other side.
My God ! ! ! I HAD KILLED A FIREFLY ! ! ! A beautiful innocent gift to the joy of evening. MURDERED ! ! !
Visions of eternity in a justly deserved insect purgatory filled my soul with dread and my heart with sorrow.
Then visions of thousands of children capturing and torturing and playing with millions of fireflies over hundreds of centuries crossed my mind and I was relieved to figure perhaps, just this once, I’d be forgiven for a purely accidental quick splattering of one firefly.
A laugh escaped my mouth, but I wasn’t happy with the incident.
When I moved my foot, however, I was rather delighted with the entire situation. There, smashed on the step, was a glowing mass of warm green goo. How does Life do that?!
I checked the bottom of my shoe, which also sported a spot of glowing goo.
A vision of proportion washed over me. For every one of those millions of captured and tortured and played with fireflies over the ages there must have been a dozen or more having their crushed bodies smeared on happy faces. The idea of glowing war paint was a wonderful prospect I would have gleefully joined in on a few years earlier.
For the rest of the summer I thought about smearing the glowing goo of a crushed firefly on my face. I just didn’t have the heart to do it.