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And so I'm sitting here looking at the cloudy night sky. It's a summer night in Missouri, so right now my t-shirt is doing just fine. The last time I did this in fall and I damn near froze to death.

But like I said, it was cloudy out, so you can't really get the spectacular view of the stars that you can get on some nights.

I've got a thermos filled with cold chocolate soy milk...it's one of the many strange souvenir habits that she left me.

I look back up at the sky again. Still nothing. I'm pretty sure that tonight isn't a new moon, so I should be able to see something. But there's not much of a breeze tonight and the clouds seem intent on blocking my way. The very heavens were complicitous in not giving me what I want...but they had been from the start, hadn't they?

How did that old story go? The lovers were separated by thousands of miles, but at least they could both look up at the night sky and see the same moon. But I quickly count the difference of hours, and right now it's ten in the morning over where she is. Damn. I was always far too practical to be a romantic.

I take a bite out of uneaten pizza that I had found under the seat of my car and chase it down with a gulp of soy milk. The pizza didn't taste rancid, which was always a good sign. If she were here, she definitely wouldn't have approved of this.

But she's not here.

Damn. I had been an embittered college student when she had found me...and now that she's gone I'm an embittered college student once more. It was almost as if she had never been here, and she had only left a month and a half ago. But I know she was here. When I close my eyes and concentrate, I can still feel her scarlet lips pressed against mine. Warm and soft, contrasted with the delicate cold hands caressing my face.

I sigh and give up. The stars aren't going to show themselves today. Not to me, at least. The sky has beaten me, and I lower my head in defeat. However, as I move my gaze downwards though, I laugh. While I was busy looking for the stars, there had been a group of fireflies dancing right underneath my nose.

Were they dancing for me? I don't know. How long had they been dancing, while I was busy gazing at the sky?

A small group of them float towards my face, while continuing their exquisite dance. Perhaps it's the warmth of my body. Or maybe they just see themselves, reflected in my eyes, and are lured in by the illusion. At least I know now that they're dancing, just for me.

I hold out my hand. One of them slowly wafts towards it, as if it were reading my intentions. I bring it close to me. It's so close I can see the individual features on it now. The joints of the legs, the armor-like exoskeleton, the crystalline wings, and dozens of other features an arthropologist could go on for hours describing. The glow was hypnotizing, constantly getting brighter and fading in a steady rhythym.

I watch the firefly for what seemed like an eternity. The rhythym changed before my eyes, slowing down, and then coming to a complete stop.

It was dead.

It had flown in my hand to die...was that a backhanded compliment? No, definitely not. It couldn't have been. It had given me its final show. It was an honor.

Why the firefly chose my palm to be its final resting place, I don't know...but I felt that I owed it something. Perhaps it was just a bit of lunacy from standing out in the night for too long, but I decided that I owed the firefly a burial. It seemed fitting, after all.

Using my finger, I dig a small hole in the earth. I gently ease the dead firefly in and pat the dirt back into place.

The remaining fireflies zealously continued their dance, either unaware or uncaring about their fallen compatriot. Oddly, I hoped it was the first reason and not the second. The world was depressing enough without cold-hearted fireflies...

I wound up watching the fireflies until the sun announced itself with scarlet light. That damned thing had absolutely no subtlety at all, I swear. But I was content. Even if the Heavens didn't give me the stars I was looking for, the Earth had...and that was good enough for me.

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