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©2018 Barren Magazine. An Alt.Lit Introspective.

Upon a Time


by Jessie Lynn McMains

I’ll tell you a tale that begins upon a time when I
was a wee slip like you, loves, the backyards
and vacant lots dripped lousy with lightningbugs. I
called them faeries, those fireflies, made wishes on
their glimmerglow. I’ll omit the sad ending: they’re
dying off. I won’t tell you that every year there are
fewer wishing-stars flitting through the tall grasses
and hedges at the edges of suburban backyards.

I’ll tell you a story that begins upon a time when I
was an eensy thing like you, loves, I adored
the back-to-school sales; was seduced by bright
aisles with their boxes of fresh yellow pencils and
the smell of notebooks as yet unfilled. I’ll leave out
the sad part: I loved the supplies but the end of
summer made my little heart hurt. It reminded me
that everything ended, that even good things died.

No, my omissions won’t protect you from sad
endings. But for now let me keep you here at your
sweet beginning, where you can still stand in our
backyard and reach your tiny palms into the evening
air and catch handfuls of fireflies, yellowgreen stars
that flicker and tickle you with their tiny feet. My
lacunae won’t give every story a happily-ever-after,
but you’ll discover those sorrows in time. For now,

I’ll write you a story that begins there is a place
where night is a planet and summer never ends.
Where you can give your longings to the lightning-
bugs and the stars are fish you can tell your secrets
to. Where every mother writes faerie stories for her
little loves; where the trees sing lullabies and gnomes
play accordion in the velveteen hearts of tigerlillies.
Where once upon a time belief was the thing

that gave the yards their magic glow, the thing
that kept the hobs alive. Do you believe? Oh, clap
your tiny hands, oh, clap… and we’ll live happily,
ever after.

Header photograph © Asher.

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