Category: FireFly Express~PrePress Stories (2+)


FireFly Express shares whimsical stories with you as short stories, writing samples, and poetry, before it moves on into another life.  Some stories are born from prompts, challenges, and contests.  Some just are.  My only reward is your enjoyment…and, hopefully, feedback.  Feel free to add your own family friendly shorts so we can comment, too!   Here is my first story ~

Riding the Golden FireFly

(All rights reserved, copyright 2011©Patchwork Treehouse Press)

Tristan was bored with castle routine.  One day before sentry duty, he disguised himself as a vagabond and ventured into Indigo Valley.  He sat in a restful cave in a bordering cliff he surveyed the golden panorama below. Two voices overhead cut into his reverie.

             “Hey, Tripper, what is it like to ride a firefly?  Are they built a little like dragons?”

            “Actually, me loyal nut case, no!  Even me first matey should know their shape is better.  What professional companions do you employ in your shuttle, anyway?  You’re the pilot, not me.  A firefly needs no saddle. No horns to nab ye. And them little lightning bugs travel smoother on shorter distances.  Why, Gregorian?  You plannin’ to apply for a new position?”

            “Haven’t you heard?  The Firefly King is allowing suitors to court the princess.  I’ve heard she’s a real beauty.  Maybe even I will…” Gregor hesitated. “No, I shouldn’t have told you.  The less competition the better, far as I’m concerned. 

            Tripper jumped over the cliff and caught an updraft.  His spidery legs curled into position.  For miles he soared over the countryside, scouring green hills and fields of barley for the royal castle.

The Firefly Nation grew their most luxuriant lilies in the Indigo Valley.   A shallow moat ran along the sunny southern side of an ancient Roman Castle ruins.  Deep in the heart of one great blossom with petals as pink as a seashell lining, lived Emperor Alexander.

Radiant Hera was his only child.  Her lovely radiance lit the castle.   Emperor Alex protected his royal offspring carefully, keeping her within the petals.  Once, she ventured near the flower’s edge to see him off and knew that a greater world awaited her exploration.  But she waited dutifully for his guidance.  Eventually she reached an age when her body began to glow.  Her glimmering light lit the night with an iridescence that illuminated the beautiful lily.  On each successive night, her luminescence grew even brighter and more beautiful,  until it cast a mellow golden patina on everything in range.

Seeing this, her father sent heralds across the kingdon with an announcement.  “My daughter is now of age.  Hera and I will travel abroad.  When we return she may choose a proper suitor and wed.”

Every mercenary public relations insect in Indigo Valley passed the cry from mouth to mouth.  Preachers wisely addressed the pulpit with the courtly ‘Verses of Courtship.’ Heroes hungry for companionship pumped the iron.

Alexander and Hera flew in and out of lilies and across fields, venturing to the vast reaches of Indigo Valley.  Admirers thronged her appearances, for she had a singular power of attraction.  While every night insect followed her, she encouraged none, preferring to remain a polite and diplomatic ambassador of good will for the sake of harmony.

When Tristan first saw her, the night was warm.  The moon was full.  Its warm, golden luminescence was visible through the uppermost branches of treetops.  The warm, living sphere washed the sky with an amber glow of distant lamplight.

The heavens were as pale as washed denim.  It was impossible to tell in which moment daylight would fade and moonlight would claim the night. 

Under trees in the meadow, Lorelei watched the moonrise, silhouetted against the clouds on a small hilltop. 

Tristan moved closer, sandwiching her against the moon. 

Hera rose, gliding across the uneven ground as if she were floating.  She knew the way.  Tall ferns and meadow grasses reached her waist.  Swollen tops brushed the ends of her hair with seed and pollen.

            He could not make out her face from this distance.  All he could see was long black hair backlit by the rising moon.  A long skirt dragged on reeds, billowing away like a balloon.  In a sudden breeze, her hair shifted, draping her shoulders and revealing full breasts before it fell again. 

She shivered, knowing he was watching her silently.  Tiny fireflies lit the air around her face.  “You are like lazy little stars,” she whispered, gathering one in her palm,  “…drifting through the gloaming with ease, dimming and brightening the night.”

From his sentry post, all Tristan saw was light sparking around her like a halo, its tiny bursts of iridescence tossed around in the twilight.  It was as though she wore a fiery tiara of fairy ghost light gathered from the night itself.  He watched her stop in a nearly invisible stand of pine saplings to inhale their scent and imagined he could almost smell their fragrance.  A thousand other scents perfumed the night, too. Some were as subtle as a whiff of Jasmine, others spicy and minty or rich and intoxicating, like musky flower blossoms. 

The moment was timeless for him.  What would happen now?  When he left this magical place, this one perfect, peaceful instant when he embraced the universe with vivid possibility, would he ever return?  He felt like he was a part of everything else.  He was one with her, he was a part of the trees and grasses and the moon.  Larger than life was how he felt.  It was as if he had expanded into all that was or ever will be.  Tristan had never seen anyone like her before. She was enigmatic, a mystery. What miracle was at work to make him feel this way?  He thought the answer must lie beyond a mere explanation of biology and earthly matter. 

She closed her eyes and slowly breathed in the fragrance.  She wanted to take in the scent until her blood was saturated, until her soul expanded and he felt the same across the field.  Let the nectar of moonlight carry it to him.  Let the evening liquor steep his soul.  Soon the moon crested the treetops, cascading the meadow with shadows among pale green stems.  “We are the darkness, and yet we cast light.,” she whispered.  “In the moonlight, we are both substance and shadow.”  Only now did she raise her face to his. 

 His hungry gaze locked on hers with a yearning that was impossible to deny.   He waited there until it seemed to him that an eternity had passed. 

Finally, she walked into his embrace and allowed him to hold her.  She knew he would never again in his lifetime find his Holy Grail in this way.  From this point on, his universe would fill with endless striving and a descending spiral of disappointment.  He was damned.  And he was hers. 

Movement occurred in the trees.  Presently a doe with two fawns emerged and froze in their dazzling presence. The movement broke his concentration. He tore his eyes from hers. 

         She moved swiftly into a pine stand and let the night swallow her.  For a while, she watched him search, uncomprehendingly.  She knew she would not pass this way again tonight.  Then she turned and left, realizing there could be no better ending to such a perfect moment.

On the night before Valentine’s Day, she addressed her mother:  “Many admirers have I met, but none I wish to marry. Tonight I shall stay home to see who loves me enough to come courting.  I want to pose him an impossible task. If he is wise he will refuse.  If he loves his life more than me, I shall lose interest.  If he succeeds, he will win my hand.”

“As you wish, my child.  Oh…your Highness,” the empress corrected herself. She dressed her daughter resplendently and set her on a throne in the heart of the flower.  “Guards, keep all suitors at a respectful distance. We don’t want a dazzled bug to approach her light and hurt the princess.”

Hera sent out the invitation by way of Iris, her messenger.  As Iris flew toward the valley, a colorful rainbow twinkled overhead.

“Fly, little glowworm, glimmer, glimmer,” urged Hera.  She watched the little winged beetle fly away, her bioluminescence lighting the ground below as if she was scattering an ultraviolet pathway for love-smitten insects to find their way to Hera. She knew that such light could only breed here, in this marshy, tropical portion of the valley where abundant food grew.  A few wet, northern, wooded areas were also reputed to nourish such illuminating glow.  But to Hera’s knowledge, no northern fireflies had ever journeyed this far.

Twilight faded away.  In fluttered the first suitor.  He bowed low to the princess, “I am Lord Gregorian the Golden Butterfly, offering you my house, my fortune and my love.”

“Go now, and bring me fire.  Then I will become your bride,” offered Princess Hera.

Bowing his head, Gregorian opened his wings with a stately whirrr and departed.

Next to arrive and solemnly profess his passion was Tripper the Gliding Spider with his glossy winged body as black as coal dust.

“Bring me fire to make me your wife.”

Off glided the spider.

Pausing only briefly, in flew Rush the Scarlet Dragonfly.  He expected to dazzle the princess with color so awesome that she would fall at his feet.

“I decline,” said Hera, “Bring me a flash of fire to reveal your bride.”

Swift was the flight of the dragonfly.

Soon, Gregorian returned.  With a tremendous buzzz, the golden butterfly pled ardently for her mercy.

“I’ll say ‘yes’ when you bring me fire,” repeated the glittering princess.

Suitor after suitor and every sweet, sex-starved mechanic in the Indigo Valley appeared to woo the daughter of the Firefly Emperor.  Soon, every petal was dotted with lovers.

To each one, the modest princess replied:

“Bring me fire to make me your bride.”

Every suitor thought he alone possessed the secret, and sped away on the quest without telling his rivals.

Gregorian the Golden Butterfly whizzed off toward a light glimmering through a paper window.

Trapper the Gliding Spider flew into the room of a poor student reading by the light of an earthenware oil dish.

Rush the Scarlet Dragonfly flew toward the light of a road crew working late at night,

Mad with love, a moth suitor hovered ever nearer a candle flame.  His determination to win fire for the princess overcame his fear. “The princess or death!” he buzzed, “now or never!” and flew to capture a bit of the flame.

But none of the lovers succeeded in their quest. None returned to wed the princess. Alas for the poor suitors!  Even fugitive doctors and soothsayers could not save them.  All perished in flame or oil. Great mourning took place the next day amid funerals for Gregorian, Tripper, Rush, and a multitude of others.

“Princess Hera must have had many suitors last night,” muttered maids, as they cleaned the soiled lanterns.

Valentine’s Day came and went.  Such a buzz filled the air!   In the moat on the north side of Castle Romaine, an early snow softly blanketed rocks and pebbles.  The lonely Dragonfly Kingdom of King Zeus was hard at work preparing for another cold snap.

Below the rocks, Prince Tristan yawned and emerged from a long nap.  He flew up the stairs, brushed a few crusty pebbles from his open window, and took a deep breath of fresh outside air.  Then he heard it. “Why?” he questioned the doorman, “What is that noise? Find out what is causing this commotion.”  Once he learned about the glittering princess, he remembered the girl from the meadow.  He fell even more deeply in love and resolved to marry her.

Emperor Alexander agreed to his proposal on one condition.  The prince must obey her wish for fire and that his proposal be delivered personally.

King Zeus gathered a battalion for Tristan, and together they charted a course for the Firefly Kingdom.  With the squadron torches blazing, they flooded the lily palace in golden light.

Princess Hera was so beautiful that her charms shone even brighter than the blaze of princely glory. The fiery visit ended in a flaming courtship enjoyed by both.

A few nights later, the princess rode to the wedding at Zeus’ northern castle in a glistening white petal carriage, borne by his flaming warriors. “Look who was hiding under the snow,” whispered Hera, fiddling with the ring he had only second ago slid onto her finger. Thus began a very illuminating life between the Firefly Princess and the Dragonfly Prince.

Generations later, Firefly Princesses still express the whim for admirers to bear fire as their love offering. This is why insects hover around the lamp each night and victims must be cleared away each morning.

Young ladies catch fireflies in jars for this very reason.  Watching the dance of insect love, they hope that one day they, too, might have lovers willing to brave the fire for their love.

All Rights Reserved©Patchwork Treehouse ExPress 

For Methuseleh Artwork, see ~ http://www.facebook.com/pages/Artist-DreamSculptr/130834070320694

This little story was written to commemorate the passing of Methuseleh, a 128-year Tortoise in South Dakota at the Reptile Museum.  He spent years giving rides to children.   Thousands of people have sent pictures, so I almost feel like I knew him.  I wish I had met him, just once…

All this happened, more or less.  Oh, the glories I have seen!  Once, I watched the Ancient Ones prepare to receive visitors.

“The time is now,” chanted the guard.  “We must choose a successor!”   Armor ready and weapons sheathed, they stood firmly rooted.   Nothing deterred them. Displaying the vast power of concentrated vigilance achieved only by the very wizened, they clung to their appointed spots.

When the ground began to rumble, they considered the danger in silence.  The invasion had begun!

Only Methuseleh moved.  He stepped casually over the first small fissure.  Flames shot through his leg.  Soon he walked with great difficulty. “Somehow, I must reach the other side of the field where a fearful youngster clings to the fence.  The valiant child holds a puppy innocently above his head…high, over cracked earth that is muddied by his own falling tears.”

He mobilized his vast inner reserves.  Finally, the elder soul ambled painfully over to the youth.  “Hop on my back,” he invited.  “I’ll take you safely to the Garden Master at the gate house.  He should return soon. With him you’ll be protected. Hang on tight to the little dog, though.  Ready?  Here we go, then.”

Methuseleh was surprisingly fast for his large size, and they quickly reached the main gate.  All was quiet.  No one answered the gatehouse door.

Peering through the fence into the yard, I witnessed a surprising exchange.  Inexperience left me vastly unprepared, though.  At that time I was half my current age.  Yet, no lack of experience could ever conceal the significance of what was about to happen.

As I watched, the pair became engulfed in a faint, rosy glow.  Unspoken words passed between them. Then I knew!

Eternal secrets of the centuries were passing as freely from one to the other as whispers on the wind.  From the youth sprang images fresh from heaven.  From the elder, elegant knowledge gleaned from one hundred and twenty eight years of Earthly existence.

Yes, he had found his successor.  The Ancient Ones were none the wiser as the pair wound their way through the desert past rocky mounds of freshly churned dirt and grass.

Methuseleh watched children file into the enclosure with great reverence.  He recognized many.  They looked like their parents in their own youth.   Near a boulder at the center, a ceremony was beginning.

“We wanted to take this one last opportunity,” began the Garden Master, pausing to wipe away tears, “ to share our tales of an unforgettable friend.”  Several guests sighed and smiled.  “Methuseleh…”

His head came up.  “Yes?”

“…left us today.  And how we will miss our beloved, ancient Tortoise!”

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