You call them ‘glowies’. It was a logical name considering that that’s how they appeared to you, as little glowing golden butterflies. You asked them if they were fairies and heard a sound in your head like a string of high sweet chimes. You laughed and they seemed to glow all the brighter.
You see, you weren’t completely wrong. They’re not fairies, but something like that. Something ancient and powerful that made its home in the woods behind your house and lived in peaceful solitude until you found them. They were afraid at first, afraid of being found by yet another human who would try to harness their power for their own use and force them to fight back. They’re tired of fighting. But you saw them in their simplest form, called them ‘glowies’, and laughed. It had been so many years since they felt the purity of a child’s laugh.
The others don’t believe you. They think you have an overactive imagination or that you read too many books, but it doesn’t matter. Whenever you go out into the woods, they’re there. They play with you, listen to you, and protect you from the other evils that lurk in the shadows. They are your friends.
One day, when you are older, you will understand what they truly are. When you do, choose carefully how you treat them. They know that day will come, but they have high hopes for you. In the meantime, they are waiting by the pond. If you’ve finished your homework, it’s time to go.
During the first few weeks, Keisha pretended not to notice. It had, after all, been a pretty rough few weeks. She’d had a major presentation and the merger to oversee at work. Not to mention her Aunt Rashonda deciding to stay at hers for two weeks. For moral support, she said. Life didn’t care if she was going through a hard time or not. So, every morning, she escaped from it all for an hour and was out the door before the crack of dawn for her run.
It always happened in the same place, at the curve in the road beyond the trees in the more secluded area in the park. She’d be running downhill and the first rays of the morning sun would soak into her skin and there he would be, right in the corner of her vision. It first appeared like a wisp of pale air, like a trick of the light. As the days passed, it began to take form. Sometimes, she’d glimpse a cocked ear or a lolling tongue, a flash of a collar or a wagging tail. There were mornings she could swear she could hear that familiar high bark. Still, she refused to look. She couldn’t bear to tempt herself like that.
Until she succumbed and there he was. Pale fur, thumping tail, head cocked with a great big doggy smile. He yipped, trotted a few steps ahead, and looked over his shoulder at her as if to ask, “You coming?”
And she did. Now, every morning, he’s there waiting for her in the first light just beyond the trees. They run together like they did before he got sick, before he couldn’t run anymore, before he had to be put to sleep. Keisha ties her shoelaces, takes her keys and ID, and jogs out the door. She has a friend to meet.
The Shivering Sea is aptly named. The frigid winds bite at Morga’s face like a wild animal, but she doesn’t mind them. She is a Northwoman, born during the longest winter in recorded history and grew during the great Frozen Famine. These winds are nothing.
She steps from the rowboat that was bringing her to shore. The water laps at her knees, soaks her boots and the ends of her cloak, but she doesn’t want to be the conqueror who let someone else bring her to her hard-won land. She had been planning this siege for six long years. The shore is littered with bodies and splintered catapults. The ruined ships behind her are beginning to gather frosts at the masts. Torn pennants flutter between the ragged sails. Her warship is moored out at sea, her banners flying triumphant over her fleet. Her sigil is now emblazoned on the great flag hanging from the castle atop the hill.
Her castle. Her father’s homeland. Usurped from him a generation ago, and now, it’s hers again, as it always should have been.
She steps onto shore. Her men follow her, as they always follow her, as they always will, even to their deaths. Together, they stride up to the castle to claim her birthright.
An experiment in lights and warm colors, paired with an embroidered jacket, printed harem pants, and chunky silver jewelry.
Bumble the Beetle had always wanted to see the world. He had grown up in a dusty corner of the Travelogue section in his hometown’s local library. Everyday, when humans came to peruse the books, he’d read over their shoulders or listen to them read aloud. He was careful to never be seen, of course. Humans didn’t like the sight of him, no matter how shiny and pretty he tried to keep his crimson carapace.
He wanted to travel the world and see everything, from the Beach of La Concha in San Sebastian to the Great Pyramids of Giza. But he didn’t want to travel alone. So it was a stroke of luck when he bumped into Mik, the smol who lived in the post office next door. Mik had grown up seeing postcards and packages coming through international post, and wanted to go to all those places as well.
So, they set off together. Most of the time, they walk side by side, but Mik has a bad foot and can’t walk as long as Bumble, so sometimes, Bumble carries him. Other beetles make fun of him for the little saddle and harness, but Bumble ignores them. Mik makes it up to him by cooking the most delicious food as they travel.
Every day is an adventure, whether they’re meeting mountain goats in the Andes or finding the best spot to watch the New Orleans Mardi Gras parade. It’s even an adventure on days like today, when they’re passing through suburbs and woody spots, and decide to take a break by the creek. The water looks nice. They’ll take some time to relax and sunbathe, and sometime in between, decide where to go next.
I was nursing a headache, feeling a bit sick, and for some reason listening to Caramelldansen, and this happened. I have no explanations.
Fireflies didn’t always glow, you know. Once upon a time, they were a lot like ordinary flies, just living their regular fly lives. There are a lot of stories about how they got their glow. Some say one traveled all the way up to the clouds and stole some lightning to provide light in its dark hollow. Others say that Prometheus liked them and slipped them a bit of leftover fire before the gods chained him to his rock.
I like the one about the adventurous fly who strayed from his swarm while they were out looking for food in the woods. He approached a strange formation of rocks that looked to be covered with moss. Something about it seemed to call to him, and he couldn’t help but follow. He landed on a protruding area near its peak, slowly crawled forward, and tapped it.
Suddenly, his vision flooded with light as a pair of glowing eyes opened wide. The fly was shocked stiff. He felt himself being picked up, dropped in what felt like a cup, and brought up again close to those brilliant, bright eyes. It was the Spirit of the Forest and she was peering at him with an intense curiosity. He trembled in her hold, unable to tear his eyes. Slowly, she smiled and on seeing her smile, he smiled too. When she began to laugh, he joined in and an odd sort of joy flooded his heart. Her joy, he realized. He shivered, this time with happiness, so much that he began to glow. When he flew back to his swarm and told them his story, they were so excited that they began to glow too. And soon, all of them were glowing.
So now, whenever you see fireflies winking in the trees and fields and feel that rush of delight, you know why.