I knew what it meant and I didn’t want to hear it. I ran off the porch, jumped the fence, and ran across the pasture and into the darkness toward the highway. When I reached the other side, I jumped up on the fence and sat like a swivel, looking east and west, but the highway was dark and the night air cool. It crept through my clothes and turned my sweat to icy fingers.
Minutes later, Unc’ walked up next to me and hung his arms across the fence railing. In his hand, he held an empty Mason jar with holes punched in the lid. He stood there a long time turning the jar. Inside, a single lightning bug fluttered off the sides of the glass. Every five or six seconds, he'd light his lantern. Unc’ turned the jar in his hand. "Scientists say that these things evolved this way over millions of years." He shook his head. "That's a bunch of bunk. I don't think an animal can just all-of-a-sudden decide it wants to make light grow out its butt." He looked at me. "Now what kind of nonsense is that? Animals don't make light." He pointed to the stars. "God does that. I don't know why or how, but I'm pretty sure it's not chance. It's not some haphazard thing He does in his spare time." He looked at me and his expression changed from one of wonder to seriousness, to absolute conviction. "Chase, I don't believe in chance."
He held up the jar. "This is not chance." He pointed to the stars. "Neither are they." He tapped me gently in the chest. "And neither are you. So, if your mind is telling you that He slipped up, and might have made one giant mistake when it comes to you"–the jar lit yellow-green–"you remember the firefly's butt.” I was hurting inside and the streaks shining on my face didn't scratch the surface at telling how much. The laughter walked up behind me, wrapped around my tummy, and tickled my ribs, finally bubbling out my mouth—taking the hurt parts with it. That's something Unc’ was good at. He gave me his laughter and took my pain.
Martin's prose is lovely, and the flashback parallel stories of a grown man abandoned as a child and the neglected boy will ensure readers keep the Kleenex handy.
Martin expertly weaves these and other plot threads together…colorful, memorable characters; Southern regional flavor that’s drop-dead accurate; and lyrical, intelligent writing make Chasing Fireflies an exceptionally good read.