If you need to catch up in the New Glarus Series click here.
John and I arrived in Wisconsin on the unseasonably warm Friday evening before Memorial Day. My father was just finishing the mowing on the acre of property. Their home, being an “earth home” had the unusual feature of having grass on top, and the riding mower was grazing the roof at the time. Mama was outside finishing Wisconsin brats on the grill, and I pulled into the long black driveway, shaking away the remnants of memories from the accident. Sue was gone now. After almost a year, Steve had been interested in me, but I told him to go away, and now he was dating someone else. I was surprised at how much that stung. John was unbuckling his seat belt, climbing out of the car, and running toward Papa so that he could ride on the mower with him.
I sat in the car for a moment watching the light turn the trees into black shadows against the almost green sky. Mama’s face showed up in the window. It startled me.
“Are you gonna get out?” she said giggling.
Darkness deepened as the evening wore on, and Daddy, Mama, John and I went to the back of the yard to make a campfire to roast marshmallows and s’mores. It felt as though summer was official, with the first real cookout and campfire. The trees flickered orange and the flames warmed our front sides in the chilly late spring air…and I wondered. What would it be like coming up to Wisconsin, to New Glarus, or living life for that matter, with Steve and the kids? Would it have been so terrible?
Mama was running back from the garage with John. They were going to look for flashlights. Daddy leaned back on a log, “You seem awfully quiet this visit. Is everything okay?”
“I’m just glad to be here for a few days. It’s good to clear my mind,” I answered.
“Mommy! Grandma and I are going to go for a walk in the dark, do you want to come?”
“Okay,” glad to escape my father’s probing, I responded with fake enthusiasm. The first fireflies flickered in a circle around five-year-old John’s head, crowning him prince of the land, for that was what he was.
“Grandma! Lightening bugs! Can we get some jars and catch some?” Mama and John skipped back into the house to look for some mason jars to poke holes in, leaving me to amble across the nearly black lawn alone. Daddy was putting out the campfire, and my hands were sticky from marshmallows, so I decided to go in and wash them.
As I opened the connecting garage door, I heard this, “Spencer and Esther have never caught fireflies. They don’t have a mommy anymore.”
“Yes, honey, I know,” Mama responded.
“I think they might get a new mommy soon though. Spencer said that Kevin might be his brother soon.”
“Really? That would be so nice for all of them!”
“I wanted to be Spencer’s brother.”
The wind caught the door behind me slamming it shut.
I jumped as though I’d been caught with my hand in the cookie jar.
“Hello, you two!” I quickly recovered. “My hands are all sticky, but I’ll help you catch fireflies when I’m done washing them.”
My heart pounded as I went to the bathroom. I heard Mama and John chatting, and I looked in the mirror above the sink. Eyes rimmed pink, and face splotchy from tears, it was then that I realized, I had made a terrible mistake.