Author : Jennifer C. Brown aka Laieanna

One, two, three fireflies into the jar. Just like that, all at once. Probably some kind of pact. I check the remains. Two girls, one boy, none over eighteen. Nobody brings anything to the jar except the young. They don’t plan, they just go. Money is all I really look for, paper better than chips. Spends immediately without paying for identity wipe. These kids have little between them but I take what I can. Even a shirt from the boy, he’s my size and it’s a color I’ve never seen before. The shovels won’t care what’s left with the remains. Their mechanical eyes see a job, not a loss. They’ll take what I didn’t steal all in one scoop.

I see more coming over the hill. Old man with five fake crying women making a half circle around him as his hovering chair reads and mimics the bumps over a grass path to the jar. No one ever built a real path. The jar is for everyone but no one is invited here. “Never forgotten. Never celebrated.” someone once scratched onto the plaque near the jar. True words.

I’ll get nothing from this geezer and the snakes who are already tonguing the rich out of his pockets. I don’t need to see him put into the jar. The smiles on greedy make me sick especially when they’re tossing into the jar. I take for need, not for greed. I’ll come back at the dark.

I see stars. I count stars till I forget the numbers. Only see stars when high on the hill now. Each time the jar gets brighter and brighter at night. I always hope to take good sunglasses from a remain, but they haven’t left them yet. Might have to buy a less good pair. Eyes half closed, I walk to the jar. No one comes at night. It scares them or makes them cry. Couple times they tried but years have gone by and no one, no more.

The fireflies are dancing, their long sleek bodies without arms, without legs, illuminating white floating in the jar, swirling around each other. Can’t touch the jar or be a firefly. The jar isn’t glass like some food containers, just a barrier between us and them. I can touch the metal ring the jar sits on and feel a vibration in my hand.

“Momma,” I whisper. Four fireflies come a little closer. There are no faces, I don’t know if any of them are her. “Why did you leave me?” I hate tears. Some nights they just come. None of the fireflies will tell me. I don’t know if they even can. Heard different men explain the jar for years. An alternative to the unknown. People can avoid death, live in their minds in the jar. That’s it’s purpose, man-made crossover. Some hate it, some think it’s wrong, screaming about it’s devil workings. Lots take advantage of it, especially the real sick. Most just don’t know, debating it’s use for hours before they cross or walk away.

“Momma” I say again. My heart hurts, my mind takes me back to the day she crossed. Don’t know if she was sick. Think she was just scared. When she stepped in the jar and her remains fell to the ground, I held a cold hand till the shovels scared me away. I was only seven. Been here since and still don’t know if she’s really in there or if it’s all just a lie. Don’t really care. Just can’t leave her like she did me.

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