Sitting on the hillock, Selene took her eleven-year-old daughter, Amara, into her embrace as a sweet melody that had been on repeat in her head flowed from her tongue. Together they sat in silence and stared at the moon. Overcome with a twinge of nostalgia, Selene mesmerized of the happy days she cherished with her husband. She listened to the crickets chirping their nightly melodies in the calmness and serenity of the cool night and fought back the tears, remembering what her husband used to say.
You’re like the stars. You’re God’s most beautiful creation.
Several stars glimmered in the pale moonlight, illuminating the sky with a brilliant ray of silver and neon lights. Fireflies further beautified the night, adding peacefulness to the atmosphere.
“I love when we come here at night, mom. It’s so much beauty in nature.” Amara rested her head on Selene’s shoulder. Her lips stretched into a smile, followed by a deep dimple on one cheek.
“I know, dear.” She pulled Amara’s hair behind her ear and kissed her forehead. “That’s why I brought you here. It was mine and your father’s favorite spot to put our troubles behind us,” she said, lifting Amara’s chin. “I want it to be ours now. So, how was school today? Anything interesting that you learned?”
“It was splendid. I learned something interesting from a story I was told.”
“I would like to hear this story that your teacher told you.”
“Actually, it wasn’t my teacher that told me this. It was my best friend who told me the story about the black sheep.”
“The black sheep?” Selene tilted her head.
Amara nodded. “My best friend’s father told her the story, so she wanted to share it with me too.”
“Why don’t you go ahead and tell me the story.”
Turning on to her stomach and propping her head into her hands, Amara began to tell the story of a black sheep born into a flock of white sheep. Its wool was ugly and served no purpose. Its meat was abominable. The black sheep was useless to the farmer, so he had no choice but to consider getting rid of it, and in its death, no one cared.
Amara dragged her bare feet through the grass in a playful manner. She continued that it was better to be a white sheep than a black one to be accepted and get the respect we desire. Upon hearing this, Selene pondered on the discrepancies of the story and what her daughter’s best friend would instill into her next.
“That was lovely, dear, but let me add something that will paint a far better picture.”
“You see that group of fireflies over there?”
Amara stood up to get a better view. “I see them!”
“You know, those little critters are an artistry of nature. She took a long deep breath and placed her hands at her waist. There was one firefly she had been studying in particular. “And they send a powerful message like everything you see here.”
“What message is that?”
“If you look closer, you will see that the firefly over there is much different from the others.”
Amara looked to the left and squinted her eyes at a tiny object flying around on its lonesome. “I see it. Its light is so much brighter than the others.”
“That is exactly right. It is a unique member of the family that stands out and exhibits its own hue that is much more beautiful.” Selene smiled, staring into Amara’s honey brown eyes and stroking her fine wavy curls.
“But how did you notice that out of all of them when they’re so small.”
“I observed. And that’s the problem with most people; they don’t pay close attention. They only look at what’s on the surface, rather than what’s on the inside, which makes them see limited information.” Selene took a bite of a marshmallow s’mores, chewing a couple of times to test the flavor. “Think of that firefly as a black sheep.”
“But mom, how could it be a black sheep when it’s so beautiful and unique?”
Selene studied the firefly’s motion for a moment. It was like a leaf soaring in the wind and lighting up the world from the darkness. Its wings differed from the others, and like a leader, it kept ahead on its own path than following the others. Selene finally responded, “let’s not focus on features. Black sheep can be the most beautiful and have the most beautiful souls too. Yes, they are different but refuse to follow everything that the flock of white sheep will. You see…” Selene furthered. “God created us in His own image to be what he wanted us to be. Therefore, you don’t have to fake a false identity to get what you desire in life. Like that firefly, you are beautiful in every way.”
“Whoa, I never looked at it like that.” Amara was agape.
At first, the expression on Selene’s face was one of amazement. It quickly changed into sadness within seconds of looking at the firefly. She thought of her husband and went on to say to her daughter that some people know black sheep have what they do not in their own uniqueness. They are frowned upon, sometimes outcasted, so as to steal their joy, to test them, and to make them doubt themselves. The white sheep will say to themselves, let’s see what becomes of its peculiarity. The best form of compliment is being yourself.
“You know, your father was a unique firefly like that one.”
“He was?” Amara’s eyebrows drew up.
“Yes, in time, I will tell you all about it.”
Tears of sadness streamed down her cheeks, and it disappeared with the sweep of her hand. Selene turned her head away to keep Amara from noticing, reminiscing about the time when her husband had been the firefly of his family. His light shone so bright through his kindness and in everything that he did to prove his worth. Still, no one in his family realized. He was the youngest child and the only one that wasn’t allowed to work the family business like all the others.
He was rejected by his family, who thought he wasn’t good enough to own the family business someday. Aside from that, he disagreed with them about numerous things, including his goals they perceived as ridiculous. Up until his death, he wasn’t invited to a single-family gathering, and relatives spoke ill of him. They mocked his dream and voted against every single idea he brought to the table to better the family’s business. However, before his death, he pitched his dream to a stranger who took interest, resulting in success and far more earnings than the family’s business, which left Selene and Amara well off.
“Mom, I’m feeling sleepy.” Amara yawned and stretched her arms as wide as they could go.
“Yes, it is time we get some shut-eye.”
“Thank you for everything you’ve taught me tonight.”
Selene’s chest expanded as she took in a deep breath and smiled. After handing Amara her sleeping bag, she made sure hers was comfortable enough to her liking. She peeped through the tent, gazing at the firefly one last time. It was still there, flying all alone. But, this time, its light was a shade of purple. The other fireflies had flown further away. As the firefly drew closer to Selene and inside the tent, she laid on the sleeping bag, closing her eyes. Selene thought of her husband and whispered, “goodnight, my firefly.”