Entry for the Daily Flash Fiction contest
Aunt Frida had come out onto her back stoop and asked, "How many fireflies have you caught, Jimmy?" as her nephew was busy filling his Mason jar with as many of the glowing insects as possible. In the mellow Maryland twilight, her aluminum tumbler of iced tea sparkled like her smile, and Jimmy smiled back. This peaceful suburban neighborhood, honeysuckle-scented and relaxed, was very different from his home in the city. This week with his aunt was a grand adventure, with something new to learn every day.
Jimmy hefted his jar. "I bet I got a hundred of them!"
Aunt Frida laughed; she knew there were not nearly that many fireflies in the jar. But her seven-year-old nephew's imagination was boundless as the field of stars above. Excursions to the library and the park had awakened the creative spark she'd sensed in Jimmy, who had never hunted fireflies before. "What will you do with them?"
"I'm gonna put it next to my bed, and it can be my nightlight! I'll put some holes in the lid so they can breathe..."
Aunt Frida's voice was soft. "That's not the way we do things here, honey. It's mean. The nice thing to do is to thank them for playing with you, then hold your jar open and let them fly away and shine their lights for someone else. You like it when someone is nice to you, right?"
"Yes." Jimmy, like his mother, was inclined to kindness, which is one reason Frida had taken this opportunity to foster that. "I guess I'm done playing for tonight."
"Then let's be nice to these little fellows."
"Okay!" Excitement tinged Jimmy's voice again as he removed the jar's lid and the fireflies began, one by one, to carry their lights out into the night.