They Fell Like Comets
by Hans Hergot
It's a sin to kill a lightning bug. Its guts will not turn a whiffle-ball bat into a light saber. Smearing its green butt on your face will not make you a fairy.
We knew it was wrong in our hearts. But we did it anyway.
That summer, they paid us ten dollars a jar to catch fireflies. We went out in the dusk armed with nets and small hands.
The fireflies blinked like the stars overhead. We caught whole constellations. We cut a swath through their milky way. We filled mason jars with a million tiny stars, each a beacon of light to the universe.
A firefly can only fly so high before it has to come back down. We were patient, waiting till they fell like comets.
The jars blinked in a dolesome unison. We were impervious to their pleas. Each jar went in the freezer; then to the fire department where we collected our shekels--and spent them at Kmart on G.I. Joes and Transformers. I hid Snake eyes in the linen department so I could get him the next week. Ten dollars was just too much money for a boy growing up in the south to ignore.
We went to sleep each night with the smell of fireflies in our nostrils--that high fishy-smell as distinctive as honeysuckle.