Where I live, every summer starting in June, the fireflies come out. Just as the sun goes down, these little beetles emerge from where they hid during the day and start blinking. Their yellow lights turn on and off as the flying males try to attract the females below in the grass. I used to catch them when I was younger and stick them in a jar, though I always let them go at the end of the night. What I didn’t realize then was that there is another reason for catching fireflies other than just for fun. Apparently, it also helps you fall asleep. At least, according to Arden. In case you haven’t met them, Arden and Ben are my two Owl City fanfiction characters who first made an appearance on my blog last summer in a story based on Owl City’s song “Hot Air Balloon.” Today, they’re back for some more fun in another fanfiction I wrote based on the song “Fireflies.”
8:00am, Tuesday, August 6th _ I dragged my eyes open. I moaned and reached for my cell phone and squinted at the bright screen. The name and phone number were so blurred I couldn’t even read who was calling. Not really caring, but wanting to stop the ringing, I slid the green icon across the screen and held the cold phone to my ear. “Hagrow?” My lips and tongue weren’t quite awake.
“Ben? You wouldn’t believe my totally awesome day yesterday!”
I dropped the phone on the bed and pulled the pillow over my head.
I could still hear the voice calling. Why, oh why did she have to call, I grumbled to myself.
“Ben, I know you’re there. Ben. Ben. Ben. Ben.”
I knew she wouldn’t stop. Surrendering, I picked the phone up again.“Hello, Arden.”
“You sound tired.”
“Do I? I didn’t sleep well last night.” Didn’t sleep well? That was an understatement. I hadn’t fallen asleep until almost 6am.
Unaffected by my response, Arden started talking, telling me about something her family did yesterday, but I wasn’t listening. I was dozing off, lulled to sleep by the white noise of her chatter.
“Ben? Did you hear anything I just said?”
“Uhhh …” The break in her one-sided conversation pulled me out of my light sleep.
“Ben, are you listening to me?”
I paused for a moment and decided to confess. “Not really.”
“Can I come over?” I debated with myself. What I really wanted was to go back to sleep for a while. I was so tired. I was definitely not up for an Arden visit. But before I could say anything, Arden answered her own question. “Great! I’ll be over in a few.”
“What? Hold on! I didn’t say anything.” My protests didn’t matter because Arden had hung up. I groaned, knowing a knock was imminent. I pulled my feet from the tangled, barely-slept-in sheets. I wonder if she’d notice if I wore my pajamas, I thought. I ran my fingers through my dark blonde hair, trying to comb my crazy bangs into some sort of order and threw on my clothes. I quickly straightened the sheets and spread. I couldn’t start my day without making my bed.
I heard a knock downstairs and then, “Beeeeeen!” I turned around as Arden dashed into my room and dove onto my bed, undoing all my work. Her flip flops toppled from her feet and now lay on my previously neat floor. Trying to ignore the disorder, I smiled slightly as she turned her green eyes on me.
“Hey,” I said lamely, and sat down on the corner of the bed. She glanced up and giggled when she saw my hair. I turned red. “I just woke up, Arden. Give me a break!”
“It’s not just your hair,” Arden noted, leaning close to me to peer at my face. “You are really pale. Your eyes are all red, and you have really dark circles under them. Ben, you look awful!”
I looked down, embarrassed. “Haven’t been sleeping well,” I mumbled.
“What did you say?”
“I haven’t been sleeping well,” I said more clearly this time. I leaned back on the messed up bed and shut my eyes. “And I am miserable. I haven’t really slept in five days. Most nights, I’m far too tired to fall asleep.” I never really liked telling people about my insomnia. My mom told me I once went through a stage when I was seven where I didn’t sleep at night for weeks. “I feel like such an insomniac,” I admitted.
“Mmmm. I’ve never really had too much trouble sleeping. Except on Christmas morning. You know how much I love Christmas! And, of course, my birthday. Then I’m too excited to sleep. And then sometimes I wish I could stay awake when I’m asleep ‘cause everything is never as it seems, and my dreams are bursting at the seams. Sometimes, too, when I’m falling asleep, I like to make myself believe that planet Earth turns slowly, but did you know it really spins at about 1000 miles per hour? My mom told me about that. Jupiter actually is the fastest spinning planet.”
I didn’t know how Arden could keep talking and never take a breath. Why didn’t she just pass out? I’d always thought she was an alien, and perhaps now I had proof. She didn’t need oxygen.
“Have you tried counting sheep?” Arden still hadn’t taken a breath. “I always count greater prairie chickens to fall asleep – you know my dad studies them – but I’ve heard sheep work pretty well, too. So, have you tried counting sheep?” She finally paused, waiting for my answer.
I looked over at her. “I am tired of counting sheep,” I sighed. “And I don’t think prairie chickens would make a difference.”
“I don’t know. The prairie chickens really help me.” Arden continued, “Why are you tired of counting sheep, Ben? Sheep and prairie chickens are fun to count! You can make them any color in your head. And they can jump over things like sliding boards and hot air balloons.”
“Why do I tire of counting sheep? Why? Because I count them every night!” I was really getting irritated at this point just thinking about all the hours of sleep I’d lost.
For a moment we were quiet, each of us contemplating my sleeplessness. “That’s it!” Arden burst out. “I’m going to help you get over your insomnia! You know, Ben, friends help each other out, and I’m going to help you through this bad time in your life!”
I groaned. Somehow, I just didn’t think energetic Arden would help me with my sleep problem. “I’m fine, really, Arden. Insomnia comes and goes. It’ll go away in a while.”
“I’m going to make sure it does!” Arden looked down at the clock. “What time do you usually go to bed, Ben?”
I figured three wasn’t an acceptable answer. “Around 10:30 most nights.”
“I better get started then!” Arden jumped up.
“Started with what?”
“Research! I have an idea, but I need some more information and supplies. And I have to get that recipe from my mom for warm milk. It’s from Iceland, you know.” Arden continued ticking off her to-do list. “I have to find my bug-catching jar and my net, and I have to check about the fireflies …”
Thanks for reading!