How To Catch Fireflies
by Emily L. Famularo
The best time to catch them is right when the sun goes down. At dusk there’s still some light in the sky, so everything’s purple and blue like living inside a bruise. The fireflies call to one another in the field behind our house, where the grass is tall and makes our legs itch. We are stoic, my brother and I, waiting for the moment of impact. I imagine all of us lighting up together like one big constellation. The perfect jars for fireflies are jam jars—usually from the unlucky few that didn’t get used up during jam season—with small holes poked into the tops to let in fresh air. We let the insects signal to one another for a final moment of bliss, blinking, calling out in a secret language we couldn’t decipher. I count under my breath, one, two, three, and wait for my brother. James runs off first into the mist of fireflies, as he always does, and I follow. In tandem we scoop them into our jars, four or five at a time, before slapping the lids on. The glass blinks, one, two, three, as our tiny captives’ buzz inside. When we catch our breath, James tells me he is going away, and I ask him why. He says it’s just for a little while and I say ok. After a long silence, we sit for a while outside with our jars and talk about space and growing up. James says we can be anything we want, and I believe him. When Ma calls us it’s close to bedtime and we bring the jars inside, too. My brother places mine on the nightstand, the pale-yellow oscillation a beacon to the others.