|Our Wedding reception at Kay's parent's house. Has nothing to do with the story.|
“It started with lightning bugs”
This is the best night in years for lightning bugs. Not nearly as many as in my childhood days, but more than I have ever seen at our house.
By the way, I need you to be on your best behavior. I went and grabbed an extra lawn chair off the porch for Kay. Then I opened the backdoor and yelled to her about the lightning bugs. She’ll be out here any minute now, and I’d like for her not be self-conscious about your presence, so none of you say a word.
She’s coming out now. Just pretend you’re not here and she won’t notice. She’s oblivious to such things.
KAY “Okay, where are they?” – “Hey, it’s just you and me, Doll. Oh, the lightning bugs? Where are the lightning bugs? Give ‘em a minute.” – Sheesh, I almost gave you away.
ME “Look! In the bushes to the left. Oh, you just missed ‘em. Now, to your right, middle of the yard!”
KAY “I don’t see ‘em.” – “Sweetpea, your response time is way slow. Tell your brain to have your eyes move a little faster. Everything obeys your brain.” – Did y’all catch that? I know it’s a bit dark out here, but that was her you’re-not-funny look. Our years together have made it harder and harder for her to take me unseriously.
KAY “There’s one! Look! There’s another where the Jungle Gym used to be. By the way, how is your knee?” My knee is terrible. I’ve got an appointment next week with the doctor who reassembled my biceps when they snapped last year. Remember? He got mad at me for not following doctor’s orders? – “My knee is fine, doll. Only hurts when I try to use it.”
KAY “Oh, my word! Two of ‘em! This is wonderful. Wait, two of ‘em are together. You know what they’re doing don’t you? They’re thinking about sex. I say, go for it. Procreate!” – See, what did I tell you? There’s no way she would’ve said that had she known you were here.
KAY “Wait a minute. Don’t the females stay on the ground so they’re easier to locate? Or the males? Or do they both fly around till they bump into each other?” Wow! I really thought she was the expert on lightning bugs. That girl doesn’t know any more than I do. – “Uh, I don’t know, Puddin-head. I think both sexes are flying around tonight.”
ME “The cicadas are sure out tonight, aren’t they? Weird how after awhile you don’t even notice the loud neeker breeker noise.” – “I thought those were frogs. Are you sure those aren’t frogs?” – They’re not frogs. Frogs croak. Cicadas make the sound you’re hearing now. “Could be frogs, darling. Hadn’t thought of that. Speaking of frogs, did y’all play outside much when you were kids?”
KAY “Yeah, I believe we did. Why do you ask? You don’t have your make-believe people out here tonight do you? You better not be taking notes!” -- “No, no, Sugar Buns. No make-believe people tonight. They just show up when I'm on the roof.” – I know, I know. That sounded like a lie, but it’s not, because you’re real to me. I’m pretty sure God’s got my back on this one.
ME “Look, I know you played outside. Remember? Duck for cars!” – “Oh, yeah! We did duck for cars! We would also take turns laying dead on the curb and seeing if any cars would stop to check on us.”
KAY “You did that, too?” I knew she did. This isn’t the first time I introduced the topic. “I tell you what’s weird. Nobody ever stopped to check on us! One time there were six of us strewn along the curb. Nobody stopped. Nobody cared for children back then. Nowadays parents would go to jail if their kids played dead on the street.”
KAY “Not nearly as many lightning bugs now. They either found one another or they gave up.” – Okay, I’m about to lose her. Let’s see, uh. “So, did y’all tell stories at night when you were kids?” – “I don’t know. I don’t remember stuff like that. -- “Well, do you remember who you used to play with?" – “Probably Tracy and Mike.” – Tracy and Mike are her brothers. Both of them developed some physical impairment during their childhood and were unable to do much playing outdoors.
ME “No, I mean didn’t you have friends to play with and make up stories?” – “Oh, yeah. The Larkins! I’d play with the Larkins.”–- “That’s it? Just the Larkins?” – “There were seven of ‘em!” – Right, I used to know that. I just forgot that there were as many Larkin kids as Hayter kids.
ME “Hey, did you ever…” – “Look, the lightning bugs are in for the night, I’m going to go finish Dr. Pol.” – Pol is the veterinarian that’s always treating cows and horses. I fear Kay has given up on getting a dog and is now leaning towards cattle and things you can saddle. Yep, that girl will show up at my funeral riding a horse and carrying a peekapoo in her saddlebag.
KAY “Don’t stay out here too late, okay? This was nice. Thanks for calling me out here. I love you.” – “Love you, too, Darling.” -- Wasn’t that sweet? And, yes, I’m still going to write this up. She won’t get too mad. Didn’t you hear? She loves me. – Next time.
You can contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.