Fireflies are everywhere and they mean nothing to us. An annoyance. We are teenagers and they are a trivial detail. The most important thing on our mind tonight is when are the girls coming by.
The lake is silent and the grass is wet. It hadn’t rained this evening but it is summer and dew is a fact of life, as incontrovertible as the enormous moon that hangs high above. It is warm and every living thing is making its own very special noise tonight. The crickets are cricketing and whatever else is out there is doing whatever else it does.
Green leaves above and green grass below. We cradle lacrosse balls in the basket of lacrosse sticks – not quite practice but more like a nervous tick, in and out, out and in.
And there are voices coming from the woods. Girls’ voices. There is no sound quite like that sound. We are spellbound and yet emboldened all at once. Not yet men but certainly not boys anymore. There is no one here even resembling authority here at the lake, this is the summer that never ends and we are the kings of the summer that never ends. Sixteen and in total control of the world around us – there are no ringing phones and no bills to pay or bosses to answer to and nowhere we need to be but here, in this place and in this moment.
We are nut-brown and slightly sunburnt and louder than we need to be and unstoppable.
Fireflies linger and still are inconsequential. The moon looms large and yet does so silently, a witness but an inadvertent one.
Pick one, they are all almost the same. Thin and tan and giggly and foreign. This one’s name is Samantha. Or Ashley. It matters not. “Let’s go for a walk.”
Her father is a lawyer and her mother is a mother. She hates school but she is really good at it. What’s my story? I’m not sure but who cares? What is the fewest amount of words I can use to say enough to be past this part. I talk but she doesn’t listen, she has my face in her hands.
We are kissing for no reason, there is no connection. But there is every connection because it is that brief moment in life when there is only kissing and everything else is just that thing that happened before of after the kissing part. Fireflies and lapping lake waves on the shore. That forest smell and that gigantic moon and all the sounds of all the living things around – but none so alive as two sixteen year olds who have found themselves in a meaningless kiss that means more in this moment than anything else in the world.
If the heavens themselves should rumble and then tumble down to the earth it could not matter more.
Is this going to end? Perhaps, on this temporal plane it will but in the grand scheme of things it never ends. It sticks with you, asserts itself on your prom night and then on that night that your girlfriend leaves and then later on that night that you get married and do what you are supposed to do.
That kiss reminds you of itself.
That girl that night.
It never goes away and it never needs to. It becomes the reference point that reminds you of why. It stays with you forever as a memory of a time when things were simpler. It may goddamn well be the last memory you have seventy years later as you draw that final breath and say goodbye to the friends and family you’ve accumulated on your journey.
That girl that night. What was her name and why was she kissing you? And does it even matter so long as it happened and is still happening anytime you close your eyes and bring yourself back to that night? That lake and that moon and those fireflies and that girl.
Sixteen and fearless, wanting nothing more than to be locked in that kiss.