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How a Firefly Learned to Glow

By Shoshana Glizerin

In a gloomy forest, far, far away, there lived a small beetle. His name was Buzz. Buzz was afraid of the dark. He had a caterpillar friend named Dana, who was also afraid of the dark. Each night, the two friends would sit side by side and eagerly wait for daylight to come and melt away the darkness with its tender sun rays and bright blue skies.

One night, two chattering crows perched on a branch next to Buzz and Dana. The two friends listened as the crows talked to each other.

“Do you know what grows at night on the shore of the Black Pond?” asked one of the crows.

“No, the other answered. “I would never fly there at night — it’s too scary. But I would be happy to see what’s there in the morning! Is it something tasty? My appetite is always best in the morning.”

“You won’t believe it, but right there on the shore grows a magic grass. It’s called Lumina, and anyone who eats it begins to glow in the dark.”

“Really!” replied the crow. “Does anyone actually eat it?”

“No, because wolves, bears and other forest creatures don’t want to glow in the dark. If they glowed, they wouldn’t be able to hunt. And smaller creatures don’t want to glow because then they couldn’t hide from bigger animals that might want to eat them.”

The crows then went on to discuss all the latest news of the GloomyForest, and flew away.

“I would like to have a piece of that Lumina grass,” Buzz thought. “But the Black Pond is the scariest place in the whole forest.”

It was already very late, so Buzz went to sleep, dreaming of the Lumina grass.

In the morning, Dana woke Buzz up, “Wake up! I need to say goodbye to you.”

“Are you going somewhere?” asked Buzz.

“No, it’s just that it’s time for me to wrap myself in a cocoon and sleep inside it for a whole month. After the month passes, I will wake up, come out of the cocoon, and then we’ll be together again,” she explained.

“All right, Dana, go ahead and sleep. I will look after you,” said Buzz.

“See you soon! Try to be brave while you’re here on your own, without me,” Dana said spinning herself into a soft and silky cocoon.

Buzz waited for his friend patiently, making sure that her cocoon didn’t get blown off the branch by a gust of wind or crushed by birds.

Finally, a month went by, but just as Dana was ready to come out of her cocoon, Buzz saw a heavy drop of tree sap fall right on top of it. The cocoon started moving, and Buzz could hear Dana tapping on it from the inside: rat-a-tat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat.

But nothing happened — the sticky sap had become hard as a rock. A whole day went by, and evening arrived. Dana’s strength was fading and her tapping was getting weaker and weaker…

“Hold on, Dana, I’ll get help,” Buzz promised, and flew to see a bombardier beetle.

“Mister bombardier beetle, you are very strong. Please help Dana the caterpillar get out of her cocoon!”

“I’d love to, but I’m way too busy. Maybe another time,” the beetle answered, and went straight to sleep.

Buzz hurried over to a bee.

“Mrs. Bee, your stinger is strong and razor sharp. Maybe you could pierce through Dana’s cocoon?”

“I’m saving my stinger for more important matters,” the bee replied and flew away.

Then Buzz decided to fly all the way over to the other side of the forest, to ask his friend, the woodpecker, for help.

“Woodpecker, could you please crack the hard sap on Dana’s cocoon?”

“I would gladly help, but I can’t see anything in the dark. There’s no way I can make my way to your tree. If only someone could light the way for me…”

Buzz immediately thought about the Lumina grass.

“Wait here, I’ll be right back,” he told the woodpecker, and he took off for the Black Pond.

Buzz wanted to help Dana so much that he was no longer afraid of the dark. He didn’t even consider the fact that the light from the grass would make it easy for larger creatures to find him.

He saw the Lumina grass as soon as he reached the shore of the Black Pond. Its long, sapphire-blue stalks swayed in the breeze. Buzz landed and bit off a small piece. Immediately, his tiny body began to give off a golden glow.

He rushed straight back to the woodpecker.

“Here, woodpecker. Can you see the way now?”

“Yes, your light is very helpful,” the woodpecker answered, and he flew from his branch to follow Buzz.

Meanwhile, back in her cocoon, Dana had exhausted the last of her strength. By the time Buzz brought the woodpecker to their tree, she was no longer moving.

“Hold on, Dana, help is here!” cried Buzz.

The woodpecker positioned his large, razor-sharp beak, and then gave the cocoon a careful whack. The sap flew off, Dana gave one last push and finally broke through her cocoon.

But what came out of the cocoon wasn’t a caterpillar. Dana was now a Royal butterfly! She spread her sparkling wings and they seemed to glow from the light that radiated from Buzz. Even the branch began to glow; it seemed as if a tiny sun had just appeared out of nowhere and covered the friends in its gentle rays.

“You are beautiful!” Buzz exclaimed.

“You’ve changed as well,” the butterfly replied. “Seems like you tried the Lumina grass, after all. I take it you’re no longer afraid of the dark?”

“I guess not!” smiled Buzz. He was just happy to have his friend safely out of her cocoon.

The crows chattered to everyone that there was an insect brave enough to eat the Lumina grass. Now, everyone came to look at the hero. Wolves and bears, owls and eagles all looked at the tiny beetle with great respect. They admired Buzz for his courage.

From then on, the other forest creatures began to call him “Firefly.”

At last, the dark forest was no longer dark. Now, there is always a glowing speck, a tiny flame that illuminates the darkness. And every night the Firefly helps other forest creatures overcome their fears and find their way home.

Illustrations: Yelena Strokin

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