At night, fireflies light up Louisiana’s swamps like twinkle lights in New Orleans’s French Quarter. Their bright bodies call out to potential mates, for not all of them flash at the same rates. Each must find their match if they want to live happily ever after. The danger comes from imposter fireflies, which mimic honest signals to bring their peers to their doom.
So it is said that this is the way of the Firefly Queen. She is a woman of unknown origin who rises from the middle-most swamp, beautiful and brilliantly aglow. Her dress weeps like willows, and her tiny children swarm around her. She does not fly, but floats just above the surface, ready to trick unsuspecting young men into giving her their hearts.
John and Christine, two young lovers, had heard stories of the Firefly Queen since birth, but love caused them to flee their homes one fateful night. They planned to meet at midnight under their favorite tree, at the center of the swamplands, and elope together. John and Christine knew the swamp well during the day, because they met while performing airboat tours. Unfortunately, the landscape was much harder to navigate at night with only a jumbo flashlight each.
John arrived at the tree first, just as his cellphone told him it was 11:55. The swamp was quiet, and the water was still. Each minute felt like an eternity as he searched the trees for a single beam of light. At 12:00 exactly, such a light appeared.
“My love,” John called out. “Over here!” The light came closer, but no voice fell upon his ears. Through the underbrush, he could see nothing but glare.
“Over here!” He called again, and again there was no response, but the light came closer. It shone greener than his own.
“My love?” said John, more hesitant this time.
“It is your new love,” said a cold woman’s voice. A shiver ran up John’s spine. The glare dimmed, and John knew the woman to be the Firefly Queen. “You shall give me your heart.”
“Why would I do that?” said John.
“Am I not beautiful,” said the Queen.
“Very beautiful,” said John, “but why would I love you for that?”
“It has earned me love before,” said the Queen, raising an eyebrow.
“Have you any talents?” asked John.
“I glow,” said the Queen.
“Well, that is something,” said John, “but are you compassionate?”
“A queen needs no compassion,” said the Queen.
“Everyone needs compassion sometimes,” said John. “It is for compassion’s sake that I must tell you that my heart already belongs to another. In my eyes she is the most beautiful woman in the world, because her goodness glows brighter than anything. ” With that, John turned his back on the Firefly Queen, and rowed away.
John soon found Christine, and told her of the Firefly Queen. The following day, John and Christine were married, and they loved each other all the rest of their days.
This work was written by Alex Schattner (8:35am – 10:35am, 7/10/12)