This post is part of a new weekly writing prompt that I have started with The Red Dress Club. It is a prompt for memoir writing and this week we were to explore a memory and try to provide as much detail and meaning that we could.
It always amazes me how people can remember so many details from their childhood. For whatever reason, I do not have a very good functioning “recall” button regarding my early years. Yet, the memories I do carry with me are so ingrained in my being that at times I can feel my presence in them. I can taste them. I can smell them. I can hear them. They exist because each has taught me a lesson. Lessons that helped mold the person that sits here in the present.
When the first hint of humid air arrives in the summer, I am often brought back to a magical evening that I spent at my grandparent’s house, catching fireflies. It makes me close my eyes and I can’t stop the slow curl of my lips as they fold into my cheek with a smile.
My brother and I sat waiting in my grandparent’s living room in the cool air conditioning. If I sat just right, the air forced through the brown levered vents would blow my hair straight back. A fun game I would play to pass the time. We chose to sit on the blue carpeted floor because our skin would have stuck to the clear, thick plastic that encased the sofa in the living room. My grandmother was very neat and tidy and wanted to keep her new furniture looking brand new.
We sat patiently with our mayonnaise jar, the blue lid riddled with holes to help with airflow, tucked safely in our laps. It was almost dark.
We inched closer to the screen door, decorated with thick aluminum scrolls to look all fancy to the outside world. We strained to hear it, that moment when the evening serenade would begin. When the chirping crickets sang their song, we knew it was time.
We slowly opened the screen door and allowed the “shhhhhhhhhppp” of the cylinder to gently close the door behind us as we tip-toed out into the small front yard. The activity would stifle the chirps for a moment, making us stand extremely still. As the moment passed, the orchestra of crickets and the occasional cicada would resume. It was then that the specs of yellow-green light would begin to flash in random blips at first, then seem to consume the night sky, owning Mother Nature’s dance floor.
We quickly unscrewed the tops off the jars and through high pitched giggles, delighted in the act of capturing as many fireflies as we could.
Sitting on the concrete steps of the front porch, my brother and I would compare how many were in each jar. We sat and wondered how these tiny creatures could blink such a bright light from their bodies and enjoyed the magic until the mosquitoes showed up in full force. When we had to sit our treasures down in order to slap a knee or scratch an elbow, we knew it was time to let our inhabitants free.
Opening our jars, we would watch the performers escape from the confines of the cylinder glass and float into the night air. Even at that young age, I thought they were free of worries, back with their friends and family.
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