The Magic of Tonight

She smells like macaroni and cheese. 

We lay in her double bed, forehead to forehead. It’s past her bedtime. She giggles and thinks of new ways to delay the inevitable. 

“I need Bunny.” 

“I need Tilda.”

The lights are off. The air filter in the corner offers its nightly white noise. The faux moon dangles from an electrical cord in the corner, glowing softly – daddy’s addition to the decor. I sing her lullabies. Her eyes droop, and her restlessness stills. 

She and her brother spent the evening chasing June fireflies. They’re 8 and 11. They wandered the yard with Ball jars. She wanted help. Brother didn’t need any. She chased the blinking lights, occasionally coaxing a winged creature into her container. 

“Daddy, I need help!” He went, traipsing through the wet grass in flip-flops, jar at the ready.

Brother caught a handful, but he let them go free. He described watching one nurse a bruised leg before flying to freedom. 

I stayed on the deck as they headed in to prepare for bed. The dog lay nearby. I leaned my head back on a couch cushion. White outdoor lights framed my view of the rapidly darkening sky. Bats flitted across the open expanse. Fireflies blinked in my periphery, gradually making their ascent. Before I go in, they’ve reached the tops of the trees, flashing like distant fairies as night closes in. 

The world is a complicated place. Most days, the weight of responsibility and worry weigh heavy. But tonight, a perfect summer night in the South, there is nothing I need, besides the sweet, macaroni-scented breath of my children and the fireflies, rising skyward while the night falls.