Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Drop the Needle: HIGH EMOTION #7

TITLE: Fellowship of the Fireflies
GENRE: YA Fiction

Stephen discovers his grandmother's advanced dementia.

“You found me,” she said. He attempted to hug her but she withdrew, studying him carefully. “My daughter!” the old lady exclaimed, touching the boy's face.

“No grandmother, your daughter's son.”

“Who?” Her eyes darted as if following a fly. “Jesus?” On the ground beside her were willow leaves arranged in the shape of a cross. “Yes of course I recognize you. You saved me! Oh dear Jesus, have you seen my Anna Beth?” she asked.

A lump welled in the boy's throat. “Don't you know me?”

She looked back at the ground. “Are you my new nurse?” she asked, rustling the grass.

“I'm your grandson.”

“Why can't they keep a good nurse around here for more than a week?” she asked. “Must not pay well. I never even got to tell Keisha goodbye.” The old lady's eyes widened as a monarch butterfly fluttered near the willow's branches. “The puzzles on this crossword tree are connected, you know?”

“Yes grandmother,” he said, remembering stories his grandfather told about a great tree of life in heaven where God worked his master plan like a crossword puzzle. “Do you remember Grandpappy's sermon about monarch butterflies?” the boy asked. The old lady's eyes narrowed. “He said they could fly three-thousand miles roundtrip and come back to the same tree, remember? Grandpappy said their great-great-grandparents made the exact same trek from the exact same tree a year before. Remember?”

The old lady shook her head. “I'm praying the fireflies take me this year.” She held her hand out. “Well,” she said, “Help me up. I have to pee.” The boy hesitated. “That's what you're paid to do, maybe not enough, but still, it's your job.”


  1. It's difficult for most people to convey the emotion through dialogue without backing it up with a lot of narrative, but you've done it perfectly here. I could really feel your MC's disappointment and sadness at having not been recognized by his grandmother, even the desperation to have her remember him. I love the last paragraph especially.

  2. I love your voice! I could see and hear this grandmother perfectly in my mind. Great job!

    I know the boy's disappointed and worried, but I didn't get enough of it from this snippet. It would have been helpful to me to have a bit more internal dialogue going on.

  3. This felt distant to me and I think part of it is that Stephen is referred to as 'the boy.' If he is your MC, why would he be the boy and not Stephen?

    And he never says his name, either. If his grandmother doesn't recognize him, wouldn't he say, "It's me. Stephen. Your grandson." Just naming him would do a lot here.

    And maybe, when he tells the butterfly story, you could show him choke up up a bit, or falter in the telling, so we can see how hard this is for him.

  4. Love the title (mine is #8 BTW)
    Interesting scene and loved the story about the fireflies.
    Not quite clear what the emotional content is. Is he mad or sad that she doesn't know him? Does he kind of get what she's going through or is he frustrated? What are his main concerns at the moment? How does he feel about the story he's telling? The firefly story is a great way to convey these things, it just needs a touch more impact for me. (hard to do in 300 words, I know).