It wasn't anywhere special or a faraway realm or another dimension or a different galaxy. It was a simple little town, with little neighborhoods and friendly little neighbors. In fact, the only thing that made the little town special was a little known secret. Do you know the secret? Well, the secret is, everything, every single living thing, has a purpose and a story.
In one of those little neighborhoods, if you peeped into a pine framed
window, you would find the Cottons. Mom, Dad, and their son Fin Cotton. Fin Cotton was a shy boy with a huge imagination. Fin was small but in his mind, he was as big as a giant. He didn't let his very poor eyesight and his coke bottle glasses get in his way of a good imagination - adventure. Fin believed in the secret and loved sitting under trees and placing his face ever so closely to the bark and whispering grand stories of his own creation. He would sometimes find little creatures in the crevices of those trees and pretend to be a guardian or the protector of those creatures; whom of course was on a sacred quest of their own.
The large trees, that were like friends to Fin, were just at the edge of his home’s backyard. Fin dared not travel any further than that because of the downhill drop with just more forest and rocks. But if Fin had just walked a tiny bit further and looked between two old pines that seemed to grow from the same stump, and place his face close to the base where the trees met, he would find a tiny little hole with another family just like his. This was a family of fireflies. The fireflies lived a cautious life. They kept to themselves for the most part for the fear of being jarred. But when the moon was new and the town was quiet and there were no tremors on the ground from footsteps, the fireflies would gather together to perform majestic light shows. They called it The Gleaming. There was one member of the firefly family, the youngest, that was waiting for his light to come. He wanted so terribly to be a part of The Gleaming, but he had no spark. Instead, he would watch each time there was a new moon, wishing to shine his light and feeling the dark emptiness inside.
One evening, Fin was feeling especially lonely. He went out to his backyard and went to his usual tree. He leaned back and dreamed about himself being a shoemaker in the middle of town where he could see all the townspeople milling back and forth. He imagined feeling needed by lots of people who came in with scuffed shiny shoes and broken heels. He imagined a life without needing his glasses and playing in the town square with new friends. Fin smiled as a tear rolled down his cheek. Would he ever have any of the lives he could dream up? The tree also felt like it was sad to Fin. He wiped away his tears and got up to find a new tree that might help him imagine a great adventure. Fin thought, why not go just a little closer to the forest. There were so many wonderful trees just waiting for a story to be whispered to.
It just so happens, that Fin found himself between the tall pines where the firefly family lived. Fin got really close to the tree to see if he could spot a beetle or a seed bug. When he did not see any, he slouched down and started dreaming up one of his tales. The youngest firefly peeked out the edge of his hole to listen but Fin was whispering. The firefly drew all the bravery up he could and hopped out onto Fin’s shoe. Fin did not see him one bit. He could not see him. The firefly began to imagine himself in Fin’s story. Fin spoke about being a great warrior fighting to save his people. The firefly got even closer. Somehow Fin’s story filled him. While listening to the story, he, just as Fin, was feeling as if he could do anything. He felt the strength and the courage of the warrior that Fin created in his tale. When Fin was done, he hugged the tree and thought to himself how this tree must be special. Being careful not to slip, Fin picked himself up and found his way back into his house.
The firefly too went back into his hole. He still had the story Fin told swirling in his mind. Maybe one day, he could save someone. Maybe one day he could be a part of The Gleaming.
Almost everyday Fin would find himself between the two pines. They were his new favorite trees. His stories there were always the grandest. In these stories, he was a king, a soldier, a knight. Always someone who was strong, confident, and good. With every story, the firefly felt something in him move. He got closer and closer to Fin. It felt like they were connected. He loved Fin and the way Fin’s stories gave him hope.
Weeks had passed and it was on a gloomy day, that Fin’s mother decided that Fin needed to try a bit harder to break out of his shell. She asked Fin to walk by himself to the corner store to buy a bag of flour for her. Fin felt his stomach turn with the request. Then he thought of his recent stories and his courageous characters. Maybe this was his chance. Fin accepted the challenge from his mother. Finally, he would be able to prove to himself that he too was just as brave. Fin placed the money in his pocket and stood in the front doorway. He could see children playing just outside. Children that he longed to play with. He pushed his glasses up onto his nose and focused his eyes on the red sign a block ahead that belonged to the shop where he was going. He took a step out of the door and made his way. The whole time Fin pretended he was the king from his story. This made him walk with his chest puffed out while taking long strides. Before he knew it, he was at the shop! Fin knew the bag of flour was a bright yellow bag, so he had no trouble finding it. He paid the shopkeeper and stood just outside feeling his best ever. Fin felt he could do anything! Just like the men in his stories. Just then, Fin felt a drop of rain splatter onto his hand. He had to get back home before the rainfall. Fin was a few feet away when the sound of children playing in the street caught his attention again. If Fin could get to the store on his own, surely he can try and make a friend. He turned towards the sound of the children and walked right up to one of them. Then got even closer. So close their noses almost touched. Fin was about to say hello when he felt two hands on his chest pushing him away. Then he felt it again. The kids did not know what to think of Fin and his glasses and the way he approached one of them. The kid kept pushing Fin and Fin kept getting close to his face to get a good look at him until finally, the kid gave him a really hard shove. Fin fell backward into a small puddle of mud. The flour bag flew up and burst covering him with white dust. All Fin could hear were children laughing. They were laughing and yelling at him. Fin could not bear it. He scrambled himself up and ran towards his house with his hands outstretched in front of him. The biggest dream he had was shattered. He ran inside where his mother was waiting for him. She took one look at him and went to give him a hug but all Fin could remember was the hands reaching forward and shoving him. He dashed out of the back door just as a loud thunder cracked the sky. He needed his trees. Fin tried to feel his way to the trees. He kept feeling and feeling his glasses wet with rain making it even harder for him to see. He reached out further and further until he got to the pines that were slick and wet. He went to hug them but just as he was going to, Fin slipped and slid down the hill from his home. Fin’s mother called out to him and got no answer. She could not see him through the trees and the rain.
All this time, the young firefly saw it all happen. He flew down as Fin was falling. He wanted to help Fin but how? He was too tiny to do anything.
It got dark quickly and Fin had not moved. He could not tell where he was and his glasses had been lost. As he sat on the ground clutching his knees, he began one of his stories. The firefly now on Fin’s shirt pocket closed his eyes and listened. Fin’s story was about a fierce dragon that helped people in need. The story filled the firefly just like the others. He looked at Fin and felt something deep inside him begin to tingle. The firefly knew what he had to do. He began to believe he was that dragon. He began to feel a fire in his belly. He closed his eyes and saw himself as a bright light and when he opened them he was just that. He flew up to Fin’s face and for a moment they seemed to look into each other’s eyes. Fin could see the firefly’s light! He too mustered up all his courage and somehow knew what to do. As if the two had spoken, they silently agreed to the plan. The firefly flew upward and Fin stood up. The firefly moved forward and so did Fin. Over rocks and fallen trees, through the slick mud of the hillside, Fin courageously clamored and climbed, following the firefly until they arrived at the top of the hill, to the two pines. Fin’s mother was still there crying into her hands and feeling her own guilt. If she had looked up, she would have seen Fin and the brightest firefly side by side in front of her. Fin touched her shoulder and collapsed into his mother’s arms. The firefly could burst with happiness. He was a hero. Even at that moment, Fin felt the strongest he had ever felt. As the night grew darker, The Gleaming had begun. Fireflies circled the sky above Fin and his mom. The youngest firefly joined The Gleaming shining the brightest. Fin could see the tiny lights all around and above him. Never again would he feel alone. He had unlocked a power within that would only grow with time. He felt in harmony with the rain, the trees, and the firefly.