Status: This story is complete as of 7/8/2019. If I choose to make a sequel to it, this status will change to reflect that.

Light My Way

Light My Way

Radiant the night, a noteworthy sea of absolutely brilliant stars lighting the blackened backdrop of the sky, yet it did nothing to lighten the mood of Hunter Priest. The California sun-kissed skin of her face was reddened, riddled with rivers of thick eye liner that stained her cheeks as stormy pools of cobalt unleashed what seemed liked years of built up anguish. Cancer had taken her mother, her father had slowly turned into a drunken workaholic to deal with the grief, and their family dog who they’d had since she was six passed away the previous month. She could never seem to get a break, even for a week, it seemed. There was always something.

Some called her emo, some tried to label her a drama queen, but most could agree upon the fact that she was a troubled teen, at the very least. That’s what she would probably say if she were asked. Troubled and lost. Those were really the only terms she could come up with, though they felt so far removed from reality. Any of the situations that befell her recently would be enough to shake a person, but all of them together? It was like having a bomb dropped on the same city a hurricane was battering at the same time. Unimaginable. Yet, this was her life.

The reason for tonight’s installment of pain? The one girl she had called her best friend since second grade betrayed her. When she confronted her, they ended up getting in a fight. Oh, it wasn’t even a fair fight. After a few heated words, the backstabber had the audacity to insult her mother. Hunter didn’t even blink before sending a tightly curled fist right into her eye. By the time teachers got on the scene to break it up, she was on top of her ex-friend, sending more blows into her bloodied face. She didn’t even care that it got her a two-week suspension. It was worth every second.

The old Hunter would have never done anything like that. She would have bowed out of the friendship and left quietly. Not anymore. Jimmy had been telling her to stand up for herself for years, but she had never had to do it physically until today. He was proud as hell when he caught up with her right after school. She probably should be proud, but all she found she was tonight was miserable.

On top of losing her best friend, she got a rejection letter from her dream college. All she’d wanted to do since she was a little girl was draw. It was all she knew how to do. It was her creative outlet, and she could spend many hours lost with just a sketch pad and a pencil. Painting was definitely her passion, but lately she hadn’t had the patience to set up and crank out a new piece; let alone get inspired. Maybe it was for the best. At this rate, she’d probably end up at a crappy community college in a major geared towards a ‘smart career’ and just put her artsy days behind her.

When her father came stumbling into the house around ten thirty that evening, she slipped under the covers and pretended to be asleep. She didn’t need to be hounded about the phone call she was certain he had received from the school, nor did she need to smell the alcohol on his breath. It had been three years since they’d lost her mom and about two and a half years since she’d started calling her father Jack. It enraged him to be addressed by his first name, but it killed Hunter to call this version of her father ‘dad’; he was the total opposite of who he’d been before cancer struck their family. Some days she just wanted to wake up on the morning of June 19th three years back, that way she could relive that last precious day with the beautiful soul that was her mother on repeat like Groundhog Day; but life was cruel that way.

As all these thoughts swirled inside her head, there was a tap on her window. At first, she thought she was hearing things. About fifteen seconds went by before another tap came. Sitting up, she clicked on the light on her bedside table to see what was happening. Before she could, her window opened, and Brian popped his head inside.

“Brian, what’re you doing here?” she asked, slapping away a few lingering tears as if the action was also going to erase the rivers of eye makeup that lined her cheeks.

“I need you to come with me.”

“I don’t feel like coming out tonight, B.”

“I know you don’t. That’s why you need to,” he said with a smile. Carefully climbing into her room, he brushed himself off and his expression softened a bit. “Come on, I have a surprise for you.”

“Can it wait until tomorrow?”

“No. It won’t be there tomorrow.”

“Why not?”

With a deep eye roll, he prompted, “Because it won’t. Come with me.”

Misty eyes of blue looked at his outstretched hand and let out a sigh. “Alright, I’ll come. I want to be home by midnight, though.”

“That’s not happening,” he snorted.


“Because it is going to be almost midnight by the time we get there. Maybe a little after, depending on how many more questions you ask me.”

In silent surrender, the messy-haired girl got out of bed and trudged towards the bathroom. “Five minutes,” she said before shutting the door behind her. Whatever it was had better be good.


The ride to the secret destination was mainly silent, but a comfortable kind of quiet. The pair had been friends since the fifth grade, and they were long since passed the have-to-fill-every-second-or-it’s-awkward-phase. Nothing but the soft sounds of the radio blanketed the air around them, and neither could really tell you what songs were playing. They were both just lost in their own thoughts, as vastly different as they were. One’s mind was on the predicament they found themselves in, while the other’s thoughts were preoccupied with hoping and praying this played out the way it was planned. Timing was a big factor, and they had already had to stop once to use the restroom.

By the time they arrived at their destination, Hunter was thoroughly curious as to what he had up his sleeve. Just as she put her hand on the door handle to get out, the older teen stopped her.

“Close your eyes.”


“Just trust me. Please.” He added a bit haphazardly as he got out of the car.

“How am I supposed to get out without my eyes open?” she wondered aloud as her door gave way, and she had to stop herself from falling out as she’d had her elbow propped up against it. “Warn me next time.”

“Sorry. Keep your eyes closed, I’m going to help you.” He said, and carefully took her right hand in his. Tugging her to stand, he led her away from the car so he could close the door.

“Are you taking me out in the middle of nowhere to murder me?”

“What’s the fun in that?” he shot back every bit as sarcastically, and a small smirk tugged at the corners of his lips. “Now, walk carefully.”

“As opposed to running carelessly in the dark with my eyes closed?”

“Something like that.” Glancing over his shoulder, he gingerly guided her towards the place he wanted her. “Slow down, really be careful. Don’t trip. Now stop—STOP!”

“Okay! I’m stopping!” she grunted. “Gees, you act like I’m gonna fall off a cliff or something.”

“You won’t if you listen to me,” he mused. Moving to stand beside instead of in front of her now, he added, “Okay, sit down carefully.”

“You brought me to a cliff?”

“Focus on avoiding sharp objects as you sit, nosey.”

The three months younger girl felt underneath her and brushed the ground as clear as she could before she eased herself to sit. It took everything in her not to peek. Brian was the adventurous sort, and they had gone on many hikes, camping trips, and different day trips both together and with the rest of their friends, but somehow this seemed different. It felt different. Her heartbeat started to quicken gradually as she waited to hear the words that would allow her to open her eyes. She had absolutely no idea what she was going to see, but somehow, she felt like it was going to be magical. She needed it to be magical to take her mind off of life, but told herself to be thankful for whatever he was trying to do to cheer her up.

Settling in beside her, the guitarist pushed his face close to hers. His breath tickled across her ear and sent a shiver down her spine as he breathed, “Open your eyes.”

A few blinks helped to adjust her sight to the lack of light that had darkened even just since they’d gotten out of the car. She found them to be sitting on a cliff, and despite her fear of heights, she was captivated by the beauty of the miles of stars that hung above them. Then suddenly, she saw them.

Purple and blue fingernail polished hands flew to her mouth as one gasped word left her lips in shock, “Fireflies?!”

Brian’s only response was the fact that he was beaming ear to ear as the whole area around them began lighting up with hundreds of flickers of luminescent green light.

“We have fireflies in California?” her quiet words were riddled with a mixture of surprise and delight.

Fireflies had been a fascination of hers since she was a little girl, ever since she and her parents had visited an aunt in the Midwest. She had tried many times to paint them, but they never came out quite as good as she remembered them. They had become a thing between her and her mom, so much so that when she lost her battle, Hunter went out and got a small tattoo in her honor that read light the way. One day when she was finally able to draw a firefly she was happy with, she intended to get it inked above it there on her wrist.

“Yes, we do.”

“Since whe—how did—when did you figure this out?”

“It took quite a bit of research. There aren’t too many species here, and most of them don’t glow like they do in Kansas. It took me a couple of weeks here and there driving around to different sighting locations, and most of them weren’t all that impressive. They were really spotty. As soon as I found this one, I knew it was the right place to bring you.”

“It’s so beautiful,” she whispered, totally mesmerized by the blinking lights around them and on down into the valley below. What a sight it was.

Just as he settled back on his hands, he was surprised by a sudden turn that put Hunter’s body snugly against his. Her arms wrapped around him tightly in a hug, something she had not done in almost two entire years.

“Thank you for bringing me here,” she breathed against him as his arms wound around her back to return the embrace. “I needed this. You don’t even know how much.”

“Maybe not, but I know how much you deserve a night like this.” The sudden change in tone caused the blue eyed girl to move back now. His voice was deeply soft, and rawly caring.

In the almost pitch black that draped them like a shroud, their eyes met and there was instantly a spark of something in Hunter’s chest that she hadn’t felt in ages. Hope. It was like she suddenly had stepped out of the invisible world she felt she lived in, and into one where someone saw her. Really saw her.

“You deserve so much better that what you’ve been going through, beautiful.”

“What?” a whisper was now the only way her voice was going to come out, apparently.

“You heard me. You’re beautiful, just like these fireflies.” Leaning over, he pressed a kiss to the humidity-dampened skin of her forehead and held it there for just a moment.

She wasn’t entirely sure what was happening, but here came the tears again. She had never been a crier before her mother passed, and now it seemed like everything made her cry. Or want to kick someone’s ass.

“I don’t know when, and I don’t know how, but everything is going to be alright.”

Words didn’t mean a whole lot to her, not after all she’d been through. For whatever reason though, she knew she could trust Brian’s, even if they sounded far fetched right now.

Tugging her into his side, the guitarist wrapped an arm around her and just held her. Though it took a few minutes, she finally eased into his embrace and let out a sigh. They would watch the fireflies until they disappeared into the night, and what would happen after that, she didn’t know. All she knew was right here, for right now, she felt okay. She felt safe. She felt…..almost happy.
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Drop a comment and let me know what you think! Also, let me know if you'd be interested in me continuing with a sequel! Toying with the idea of one.