I am resuming some activity even though my health issue is not yet resolved. I am going to be working on one of my unfinished stories and, to that end, on this blog, I will be posting a draft version of the story one chapter at a time. Here we go . . .
Night Lights in the Forest
By: Steve Mathisen
They’re back! And right on schedule, too! Emmy put a check in the upper right-hand corner of the date on her calendar, picked up her journal, opened it to the page for today and began to write.
If I’m right, it’s the last night of the five-night cycle for this month, and I need to find out what they are. My mind is made up. I’m going tonight! Emmy closed her journal, laid it on her bed and waited for her sister to fall asleep.
She had asked for her father’s permission. His response was clear and emphatic, “No! There are things out there at night Emmy, wild and dangerous things!” That only made her more curious.
Emmy hadn’t seen any wild and dangerous things from her window. So, she determined to sneak out to see what the dancing lights and tinkling bells were all about.
She had noticed they only showed up for the five nights around the full moon cycle. This was the third month running and tonight was the final night of the cycle. If she didn’t go tonight, she’d have to wait another month . . . if they came back.
Emmy sat in the window seat watching the lights and listening for her little sister’s breathing to become slow and steady. Nine-year-old Gigi normally followed her everywhere. She didn’t want her tagging along tonight.
When Gigi finally seemed to be asleep, Emmy slipped quietly out of bed, dressed, grabbed a flashlight and crept slowly down the back stairs being careful to tightly grip the worn wooden rail so she could step over the two steps that creaked.
In the kitchen, Emmy headed for the back door. Booger’s head came up immediately, and she shushed their old hound dog. As she attempted to open the door and step over him, Booger chose that precise moment to stand so that she was awkwardly straddling him and trying to hold on to the door knob so she wouldn’t fall. She stifled a giggle and swung her left leg over him and step onto the stoop. Booger turned to follow her. She bent down, took his head between her hands and looked into the eyes of her old friend. She could see his determination to follow wherever she was going. Her constant companion for many years was now mostly old and tired. Sleeping in the kitchen seemed to be all he had energy for, until now.
Rather than argue, Emmy decided taking Booger along wasn’t such a bad idea. He might not be able to fight off any night creatures, but he could still howl with the best of ‘em. So she held the door open for him to come out and then let it go. Then suddenly remembered, reached out and caught the screen door just before it slammed. Tragedy avoided, she grabbed her chest and held her breath for just a moment to force her heart to slow down. Then she headed off into the darkness toward the night lights in the forest with Booger following close behind.
Crossing the field, Emmy thought about all the nights she spent watching what she thought were fireflies. Somewhere in the back of her mind she remembered something odd that Daddy had said when she talked about watching the fireflies. She couldn’t remember exactly what it was. Mostly she remembered the faraway look he got in his eyes and the fear that flashed across his face. Emmy momentarily shivered at the thought of Daddy being afraid of anything.
Emmy looked up into the millions of stars twinkling in the clear night sky. A full moon peeked out from behind a solitary cloud. She inhaled the sweet, late summer air and noticed just a hint of the smell of the creek that ran through their farm.
Her jeans kept the tall grass from thrashing her legs as she walked through it. The air was warm and moist but cooler than in the house. Crickets chirped and fireflies swarmed so, for the first time, she noticed that fireflies were much smaller than the lights she had seen from her window. That realization strengthened her resolve.