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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Concentration (07/24/08)

TITLE: Fireflies and Diamonds
By Betty Castleberry


The soft glow from the half moon afforded the young couple a shadowy view of the meadow.

Jeremy patted the hood of his aging car, inviting Tanya to sit next to him. The car bounced slightly in response when she hopped up to join him.

She sighed. “It’s beautiful out here.”

“It’s a great place to study Photuris pyralis. There are a large number of them here. They like the trees at the edge of the meadow.”

Tanya had become accustomed to her boyfriend’s fascination with science. He had just received dual graduate degrees in entomology and geology.

She faced him. “What is Photuris pyralis?”

“A species of fireflies, or lightning bugs. We should see some soon.”

The timing was perfect. They watched as a few miniature lights winked across the meadow. Jeremy leaned forward and pointed. “There. If we’re patient, we should see many more.”

Tanya watched him as he adjusted his thick glasses. He held his hands in his lap, alternately squeezing one fist, then the other, in his excitement.

She reached over and stroked the top of his hand. He looked at her curiously, then smiled.

They sat in silence for a few more minutes until Jeremy whispered and pointed to a grove of sycamores.

Tanya was enchanted. The night sky sparkled with twinkling winged creatures making their way out of the trees. “Oh wow, this is spectacular. I’ve never seen so many lightning bugs before. They are just gorgeous, and even a bit mysterious.”

“Yes, it’s quite a display, but there’s no mystery involved. They light up because of an organ they have which produces an enzyme called luciferase. The luciferase acts on luciferin found in that organ to stimulate light production.” Jeremy removed a handkerchief from his pocket and blew his nose. “It’s all very exciting.”

The young woman forced a smile. “I appreciate their beauty. They look like dozens of little diamonds.”

It was not the first time Tanya had deliberately dropped the word diamond in a conversation with her boyfriend. Although they often looked at things differently, she had grown to love Jeremy and his quirky scientific view of the world. He was generous and treated her with respect. She knew all he needed was a nudge in the right direction, and they could make their relationship permanent.

Blatantly, she waved her left hand near his face. “Yes, they look like diamonds. Don’t you think so?”

“I suppose. Diamonds are quite interesting. They’re actually allotropes of carbon and are deep mantle gems. The majority of them are formed at least 100 miles beneath the earth’s surface. They’re concentrated in certain areas, just like these fireflies are here.”

Tanya looked away. She was beginning to think there was no reaching him. Bravely, she spoke. “Do you ever think about diamonds in any other way? I mean, besides how far below the earth’s surface they are formed?”

The young man pursed his lips. “Can’t say I’ve given them much thought, although I agree that perhaps the fireflies do have a few diamond-like qualities to them. Speaking abstractly, of course.”

“I’m pleased you think so. Look, the fireflies just keep coming out of the bushes and trees. They’re lighting up the whole sky. How many do you think are here?”

“That’s difficult to say, but they number at least in the thousands. They’re actually quite romantic, don’t you think?”

Tanya was surprised at his statement. “Yes, I do.”

“I thought coming out here and seeing these fireflies in such great numbers would be interesting. I also thought it would be the perfect setting for this.” Jeremy jumped off the hood and fished in his back pocket for something, then dropped to one knee.

“Tanya, I don’t have a diamond for you, but I have this.” He flipped open the top of a small black jewelry box. “It’s an emerald. It’s formed from beryl in hydrothermal veins in the earth. I chose it because it matches your eyes. Will you marry me?”

Although it was what she had waited for, she was surprised, and at a loss for words. At last she managed to answer him. “Yes, I’ll marry you.”

He slipped the ring on her finger. “Excellent. Let’s consider honeymooning next spring in Nebraska.”

“Hmm, Nebraska in the spring?”

“Yes.” He beamed. “That’s the perfect time and place to observe heavy concentrations of aphids.”

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This article has been read 863 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Karen Wilber07/31/08
What an engaging story! ;-D I just loved Jeremy's proposal. He's a gem. I liked this one.
Yvonne Blake 07/31/08
Ha..Ha..!! Poor Jeremy...we thought he didn't have a clue.
I loved all the scientific jargon, although you lost me completely.
Well written!
Dolores Stohler08/01/08
I had to laugh at Jeremy's scientific view of things. There are many people just like him--my daughter is one of them. We need them, I'm sure, But oh, how frustrating when one has a romantic frame of mind. Nice writing; I love this.
Sharlyn Guthrie08/01/08
Ha! I can totally relate, being married to an engineer...who is also quite romantic at times. Very cute story with some interesting facts thrown in.
Dianne Janak08/04/08
I loved THIS~! I'm also married to an engineer who left a note in a hamburger he bought for me, asking for my hand in marriage... I almost ate his proposal...THIS made my day, made me laugh, and made me realize we all have our "language" but the language of LOVE finally comes through.. GOOD WRITING>. Bravo~!!
Chely Roach08/04/08
This was so fun to read! Love it!
Helen Dowd08/04/08
Very different--and enjoyable. That young woman was very patient. I'd be afraid of someone who was such a deep thinker that he had to associate EVERYTHING with science. Glad the story ended like it did...Very goooood!....Helen
Joy Faire Stewart08/04/08
Wonderful, smooth writing,I especially enjoyed the 13th paragraph. I was happy Jeremy turned-out to be romantic after all.
Mariane Holbrook 08/04/08
Where on earth did you come up with all these impressive terms? Photuris pyralis? My goodness, you should place high just for talking way about the judges heads! hehe just kidding. Everything you write is so good. I expect you to write something for the Financial Times next and be a winner! Talk about diversity! You're the best!!!
Holly Westefeld08/05/08
I thoroughly enjoyed this delightfully creative story.
Lyn Churchyard08/05/08
Oh boy, I was getting so frustrated with Jeremy. You have a way of drawing your reader in and pulling them along. Great story Betty :)
Carole Robishaw 08/06/08
I enjoyed this, I was hoping it would go in the direction it did. Good writing.
Loren T. Lowery08/06/08
Delightful! You showed the difference between the scientist and the romantic perfectly. And, in the end, you proved both sides can win!
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/06/08
I love this charming story--the description, the quirky Romeo and the girl who's smart enough to recognize his worth, and the scientific explanations. You definitely have many facets to your writing ability.
Joshua Janoski08/06/08
The science in this was great. It really brought Jeremy's character to life, and I loved the ending. A very fun entry! Thanks for sharing it. :)
Joanney Uthe08/07/08
My husband has a degree in biology and often talks over my head. Loved the entertaining (educational?) story. Your MC is soooo patient. Great writing.