Today is my first overnight camping trip with grandpa.
"Will you be afraid?" he asked.
"No," I said. "Grandpa, I'm not a little baby." He gave me an awesome high-five. My mom and dad did not want to come.
“They need more time to work things out,” Grandpa said. "I hope soon,” I heard him whisper to himself.
It’s almost a whole month now since I went to live with my grandpa. "Do you think mom and dad and me will live together again?" I asked.
Grandpa took a long time to answer. “Yes,” he said.
I looked up at the moon. It wasn't smiling. I think it was sad like me. "Stop worrying so much, Brendan," grandpa said. "You're just a little boy."
"But I can't stop thinking about them," I said back. "I want them to be happy again. And me too."
"Come here," grandpa said. "I want to tell you something." When my dad called me, I ran very quickly. If I came too slowly, he would slap me. Not my grandpa though. He loves me too much.
"You might hear a lot of noises in the woods tonight," grandpa whispered. "This is where the animals live. Night is when they walk around. Like when you and I go hiking, except we do it in the daytime."
"I'm not afraid when I'm with you, grandpa," I said. Then it was time to set up our dome tent. I helped push bamboo poles through the right places.
“Please don’t stand on the tent walls. If you get a hole in the side, rain will come in,” grandpa said. After it was finished, the dome tent was higher than me.
"Grandpa. Are we going to make a fire now?"
"Don't you think it's kind of late? You must be tired."
"No. I want to see the fireflies."
"I don't think they're around this time of year."
Sometimes I have to be patient with grandpa, like right now. "Let's have a fire. Please."
"Okay, a small one. For a short while anyway," he said.
“Thank you grandpa," I said back.
"First, we put our sleeping bags in the tent. And a blanket for each of us to keep warm, right?" grandpa asked.
"Yes grandpa," I said. I even brought my daddy’s old 'Star Wars' pillow. Grandpa had a really huge pillow.
“Are you warm enough, Brendan? I could get you a sweater if you're cold."
"Don't you ever say no once in a while?"
When grandpa's voice growls like a lion, it makes me shiver. It sounds like my dad's voice when I used to do something wrong.
"I'm sorry Brendan," grandpa said. "Did I frighten you?"
"Yes," I said in a low voice.
"I’m sorry. Help me get some firewood, okay."
"Yup." A noise came from the trees beside the lake. So I growled loud as I could, "Are you a monster?"
"You watch too many cartoons," grandpa said. "Listen, it might be a deer."
It was a deer, with antlers. "Will he hurt us?" I asked.
"No," grandpa said, "He's eating apples from that tree."
Then I moved and it ran away. Now the sky was getting really dark.
"Are you sleepy?" grandpa asked.
"No. I have to see the fireflies first," I said.
"Well, I'm not going to argue with you," grandpa said.
"Let's make a campfire, now. Please."
"Okay," he finally said. The flames were like dancing fingers. They made shapes above the fire. And chased away the darkness.
I was warm with my hooded jacket. My gloves and baseball cap helped. "Grandpa, watch. The fireflies are going to come. You'll see." He didn't believe me, until I saw the first one. "Look!"
He looked around.
"Look! Look!” More came.
"Where are they?" he asked.
"Right there. They’re making circles." Another one zinged by.
"Brendan? Are those bits of fire your fireflies?" grandpa asked.
"Yes," I said.
"They're just bits of wood burning," grandpa said.
"Not," I said back.
"Why do you think they're fireflies?"
"Because they light up the sky."
Then grandpa brought me close beside him. He put his arm around my shoulders. "They're just bits of wood and fire," he said. Then they disappear into nothing."
"No! No!" I said. "They fly around and around making family circles."
"Who told you that?" grandpa asked.
"My dad did. He made a campfire last year at the lake. He said the fireflies make a circle. Like a family holding hands." Then I looked down and whispered, "So everyone can be together."
Grandpa got really quiet. He collected more wood and built up the fire. Now it burned even more brightly.
The stars began to look like Christmas lights in the sky. I think they wanted to be fireflies too. An owl hooted on the other side of the small lake. His funny sounds came scooting across the water. It was neat.
Then grandpa sat close beside me.
Together we watched our fire burn until the tall flames fell down. When the wind blew on them I saw the fireflies come again.
They spit and hissed and danced. Then flew around in all directions. Some of them made huge circles. Some made little ones. I made a wish for my mom and dad.
I wanted us to be a family again.
"Will you give your dad another chance?" Grandpa’s words came out of the darkness. "I mean, if he doesn't hit you anymore?"
I knew the answer right away. "Yes,” I said.
Then grandpa and me stayed up late, talking. And we watched more fireflies making lots of family circles.
* * *
(c) Richard & Esther Provencher 2007
Richard & Esther Provencher invite you to read their first of three novels ‘FOOTPRINTS” now available from www.synergebooks.com. “Someone’s
Son” and “Into The Fire” will also be available soon by the same company.
These books were written during the first several years while Richard was recovering from his stroke, which felled him in 1999. He is still recovering.
The link to “FOOTPRINTS” is as follows: http://www.synergebooks.com/ebook_footprints.html