by G.A. Blythe
short story written about a father and daughter's night out chasing fireflies.
|It was on a starry, starry night that I took Rachel out to search for fireflies. I placed her in the car seat, and as I drove, I watched her arms reach up and stretch above her head. Little drops of juice sprinkled down from her sippy cup. She giggled while attempting to catch them with her little pink tongue. I spent the rest of our drive watching her in the mirror, imagining my smiling baby girl bright eyed and amazed at the sight that was to come.
“Blire blies?” she called them.
“Yes, we’re going to go see the fireflies.” I replied and then chuckled at the fact that she repeated the phrase over and over.
We continued down the road before turning off into a small quiet area. In front of us there was a grassy field with a large black lake that reflected the sky. A large wooded area covered most of the east side. In the middle of it all was a swirl of fireflies. I unbuckled her and we headed out to play.
I held her plump little hand as we walked down the trail towards the picnic area. Full of anticipation, her hand squirmed as if her fingers were night crawlers, and we approached the air filled with flying specks of light. I let go and watched her short little chunky legs run off, stumbling in the soft grassy field, as she chased the fireflies around.
I stood there, a smile on my face. It was just the two of us. Her little yellow sundress embroidered with vibrant orange flowers flew in the wind. I watched her little brown sandals stomp the ground as she taunted the winged critters. With each stomp she would send them flying around her and her curls would spin as she swooped around trying to catch them.
“Blire blies! Blire blies!” she screamed, “Dada blire blies!”
I chuckled, “Did you catch the firefly?”
“Look! Dee dee?” she demanded, “Blire blies!”
I watched as her arms flew in the air reaching out to each firefly she could see. Her eyes grew bright as they flew over her head. Each time one flew too near she would pull in her arms and run to me for protection. Behind my knees, I would caress her hair convincing her to come back out and play.
“They don’t bite Hun.” I said gently.
“No owie?” she innocently replied.
She would then take off and join in the fun of chasing fireflies and being chased. I would stand there and watch. Looking up at the starry, starry night sky I could hear her laughter ring through the air. Every little giggle was intensified in the openness. It was beautiful, all too beautiful, the stars, the sky, the fireflies and my little Rachel and her chuckles.
And then it all stopped. I brought my gaze back down from the stars and looked out towards the fields. I saw nothing, I heard nothing. “Rachel?” I yelled out. My eyes quickly ran to the wooded area. “Rachel!” I screamed. In an instant I went into a frantic search.
“Rachel?” I continued screaming while searching in the darkness, “Baby can you hear me? Talk to Daddy baby. Rachel talk to daddy!” My heart raced in my chest as I ran through the fields in search for my daughter. Branches slapped my face and legs and trunks blurred into each other. My chest heaved with each breath and I stumbled into the trunk of a tree.
I tried my best to slow down my breathing. I closed my eyes and opened my ears to search for a sound. Anything, I wanted something, a little shoe stomping on a stick, a little cry for blire blies even a little giggle would do. I got nothing. I reached in my pocket and grabbed my cell phone.
“9-1-1 what is the state of your emergency?” the operator on the other end asked.
A lump quickly formed in my throat, tears came to my eyes and my voice cracked as I tried to get the words out. “My daughter is gone, lost…..”
It was dark there in the woods. The stars didn’t shine through the thicket of the trees. Silence was only broken by the sound of the critters that scurried from the branches and along the earth. A cold breeze brushed by and in an instant I felt chilled. It was all unfamiliar; the smell of the wilderness wasn’t the same as the smell of home. It was scary even for me, a grown man. I remained there waiting for help, licking my dry lips and the salty tears that fell to them.
The police came and I told them my story. The search dogs sniffed the woods, helicopters scanned the area and many generously kind and loving people would walk on foot looking for my precious little angel.
It didn’t take long. I heard the shouts coming from the lake and ran in that direction. It had only been an hour and there she was. Her body floated in the dark black lake with her yellow and orange flowered dress bobbing around her.
With tears streaking my face, I looked up from that dark black lake and to the dark sky above, my legs weak and my shoulders shaking, I began to sob.
“Blire blies?” she had asked.
“Yes, we’re going to go see the fire flies.” I replied
“Blire blies, blire blies, blire blies!” I could still hear her squealing in excitement through the sounds of my cries.
And then I looked up and there they were, little specks of light reflecting off the blackness of the lake and mimicking the stars in the sky. Dancing in the space between the lake and the starry sky and then quickly flying up towards the heavens, carrying the little soul of my sweet Rachel.