The summer heat died one autumn night. He came to see me on a stolen bike. Tucked under his arms was a jar. The buzzing of insects was a hellish crescendo. They busied around the old lamp post as if they were high on light. I wondered what he was doing here so late, I guess there is no curfew in the slums. He wore his excitement on his face, and a bow on his ragged suit. I wonder how such a poor boy could afford such a beautiful smile.
He said “ I’ve got something to show you. I think you’ll like it”. I wanted to kiss him. I suppose that’s what girlfriends do. I’ve never been a girlfriend before. I’ve never kissed a boy before him. That night his cheek was dirty and his mind elsewhere. “Look!” He said. There were two fireflies in the jar, and they had been weakened by the realization that their efforts were vain. I told him that they would die, if he didn’t poke holes in so that they would breath. He marveled at them for a while, and me at him. I really wanted to kiss him. He said “ You can’t put holes in a jar” Then he looked at me as if he had asked a question. He had really beautiful hazel eyes. I told him to unscrew it a little. He said “ You know, if we catch a bunch of them, we can have our own light!” I couldn’t share his fascination. I was rich. Living in the dark seemed wretched to me. But there is part of me that loved his uncombed hair, the dirt on his cheeks, the glimmer in his dreamy eyes, the whites of his unfed teeth, and his excitement for things that I, honestly, didn’t care for. I told him that it would be easy.
The dirt fell from my skirt in a cloud of dust. Leondro was swallowed by the night mist. I listened for a while until I couldn’t hear his bike anymore. I ran back towards my warm and well lit house. We didn’t find enough fireflies. I hoped that they would shine his way. I worried that he wouldn’t make it back safe. Still, I was terrified of my mom’s reaction even though he had faced far greater perils in order to see me that night. Baby wouldn’t tell on me; she’s the greatest nanny. The only one I’ve ever knew. I thought, for a very long time, that she was family, but she gets paid to tuck me in bed. I snuck in the front door. The welcoming warmth reminded me that I was filthy. I crept towards my bedroom, my heart beating louder than my footsteps. My door creaked open despite my being gentle. What I saw broke my heart
My parents had tried stopping us before. They’ve threaten him. They’ve paid him. They told me lies about him. They couldn’t see what I saw in him. They only saw his dirty clothes and his questionable hygiene. He was a hood rat to them, a slum dog. They’ve tried it all, they have, but they’ve never gone this far…
Extract from bigger story