A soft whisper echoed off the walls. “Jess!”
I jerked into consciousness, tense and trembling. The door was closed. The clock ticked as usual. The lopsided calendar above my mahogany dresser showed the same picture of a sun sinking behind the mountains that had been there when I went to bed.
Must be a dream. I leaned back into my pillow to close my eyes again.
“Jessica Stark, wake up.”
A light tap sounded on the window pane. I shifted my position. In the darkness I could make out a small, round face with long black hair pressing its nose against the half-open window.
It was Silvia!
I stood, tore off my blanket, and pulled the window up all the way. What on earth was Silvia doing here at—I glanced at the lit clock—12:37 in the morning?
“Hi,” Silvia whispered.
“H-hi,” I whispered back. “What are you doing here so late?”
Silvia glanced behind her shoulder and said, “I couldn’t sleep and thought you and I could go exploring.”
Exploring? I suddenly felt afraid and remembered how quiet the house was. “I can’t come out now.”
“Why not? It would be a good experience to explore the unknown— at night, that is.” Silvia pushed a stray wisp of hair behind her ear. “Come on, please?”
“Are you sure it’s safe?”
“Sure it is! Just crawl out the window. I’ll help you.”
“But what if…”
“It’s fine. Don’t worry. We’ll only be out for a little while.” Silvia danced a little happy dance before whispering, “We can catch fireflies and watch the moonlight dance on the water.”
It did sound pretty neat. But I couldn’t. Night was scary. Night was unpredictable.
“Just jump down. It’s easy,” Silvia whispered again.
“Are you sure?” I threw on some shoes.
“Of course I’m sure, silly!” She reached out a hand. “Here, I’ll help you out.”
I didn’t know what led me to grasp her hand, but after a matter of a few seconds I was outside my window under a bright moon, Silvia beside me.
“Follow me,” Silvia whispered softly as she pulled my hand.
I followed her through a small path cutting between two pine trees which I had never noticed before. “Where are we going?”
“I’ll show you.”
A silver moon wore a scarf of lacy clouds as I followed Silvia through the path, shivering all the way. A chilly wind rippled through the trees that also sent swirls through the pond. I was so enchanted by the sight that it left me with a new desire to see the world at night. To hear the world at night. Maybe to even feel the world at night.
“Look, Jess!” Silvia pulled a branch aside with her delicate hand, revealing a huge field that stretched for miles, looking full of undiscovered wonder and mystery eager to be known. I could see fireflies blink in the magical blue night. I could even feel the sudden warmth of this field wrap its arms around me. It was a beautiful sight.
Silvia scampered into the field and then turned, a sparkle in her eye. “I call this the Infinite Field.”
I tucked a strand of hair behind my ear, too caught up in the beauty of the grass glistening in the moon-drenched light to answer my friend.
“Come on,” Silvia urged. She skipped back to where I stood and pulled me deeper into it. “We can catch some fireflies!”
’tis the night of the fireflies. A soft giggle escaped my lips. Yes, it was their night, but it was also going to be my night.
The carpet of grass seemed to wave to me, almost beckoning me to come and play. The stars above seemed to wink at me, almost assuring me that I would be safe in their sight. How could I refuse and leave when wonder was going to unfold before my eyes?
Without any more hesitation, I pulled off my shoes and followed my friend barefoot into the field, feeling the sudden coolness of the grass beneath my feet.
One after another, the fireflies twinkled and came within catching distance. Occasionally, I caught one and then let it fly high into the sky, blinking its farewell. But otherwise, they would wink and disappear completely.
“Twelve… thirteen… fourteen…” I listened to Silvia’s soft voice in the quiet night as she collected the fireflies in a small glass jar she had brought from home. I would’ve never thought of bringing something like that along!
And I started thinking.
How did she seem to know every detail of nature? She was the type of girl who would stop and smell the flowers even if she was in a rush to get somewhere. I have never cared to take the time to look closely at nature. But Silvia? It was her enjoyment— her delight—to explore the beauty around her. I would have never imagined myself underneath stars I could almost touch with my finger, or see the vivid picture of a moon casting pools of water on the grass. It was all too perfect to be real. But it was real.
I suddenly jolted from my thoughts when Silvia started lifting the glowing jar above her head. “I want you to say ‘now’ when I nod at you, OK?”
“OK,” I agreed. Curious, I watched her eyes twinkle excitedly. I wouldn’t miss this for the world… whatever it was!
Once Silvia adjusted her hand to twist the cap off the jar, she nodded her head eagerly.
“Now!” I shouted enthusiastically, throwing my arms into the air.
On cue, she popped the cap open, releasing a spray of dazzling light into the night sky. The shower of firefly light danced high with the stars, before they parted into different directions.
“Whoa,” I managed to say.
Silvia just laughed and slipped the jar back in her bag. “Come on, let’s run!” Without waiting for my answer, she was already racing across the field.
“Hey,” I giggled as I followed after her.
The wind’s soft breath rippled my hair. I would’ve closed my eyes if I wasn’t hurtling down a slope, gaining momentum. Faster and faster we went with fluid motions. Every step I took was my own, strong and determined. That was when I was filled with a new feeling.
The freedom I felt wasn’t just the ability to do whatever I wanted. It was like having wings to fly, feeling the wind beneath them, and to hear my friend beside me, enjoying every moment of this night. Because it was our time to act any way we pleased. To enjoy this time that had been given to us. And I knew I mustn’t waste a single second of it.
I continued to race around in my grass-stained sweatpants, sweat trickling down my neck, all of which I didn’t notice because I was having fun—too much fun to even realize how late it was getting. But the beauty captured in a blade of grass, or the yellow fire that outlined the moon, just couldn’t be ignored. I was going to sit back and take it all in.
Silvia whirled around once more before flinging herself onto the grass, still laughing.
I did the same and panted, “Wow, that was tiring.”
“Yes, very.” Silvia sat up and patted her belly. “But it took off a few pounds.”
“What are you talking about?” I punched her arm gently. “You are already skin and bones!”
After a few minutes of silence, Silvia stretched herself out on the grass and sighed, “Ah, what a sky. To think that there is a blanket of stars stretched over us, observing the world below. We are like a grain of sand on an endless beach.”
I watched my friend, her long black hair falling behind her shoulders. Then I whispered softly, “Is your mind always running on high speed, Silvie?”
Her blue eyes reflected the moon’s light as she turned to me and laughed, “Anyone can express their thoughts if they want to. I’m just sharing mine with you.”
“I don’t think I have ever heard anyone say something like that before.”
Silvia pointed her index finger to her head. “It’s all in here. You just need to think of the right words to say, a little imagination, and then express yourself.”
I thought for a moment before pulling myself up from the spot I lay in the grass. “Thank you for this wonderful night, Silvie. I’ll treasure it always.”
She smiled warmly. “And thank you for the company. Tomorrow night again?”
I watched the hills rolling along, the quiet houses afar, and the dark blue sky stretching above it all.
Then I breathed, “I’ll be here.”