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.”