I remember there being only one firefly in my backyard, but it was bigger than the others and blue, and seemed particularly rare in the eyes of eight-year-old me.
As I approached it, more began appearing in a line. But I knew that I could only catch one (given their size), and had no interest in following them at the time. So I did just that, with a mason jar my mum gave me. At the time, I didn't associate it with the Will-O-Whisps I learned about from bedtime stories, since all I was focusing on was getting a cool night-light.
As soon as I caught it, I could see that it was angry, bouncing around a glass prison. The other "fireflies" disappeared when it was trapped in the jar, so I shrugged and brought it inside.
I then punched holes in the jar's lid with a pair of scissors, set it in my room, and fell fast asleep.
I woke up the next day to something poking my face. It was that firefly, only now its light was gone and it was actually a blue-and-grey butterfly. No, a person with butterfly wings.
I sat up so fast that it, she, fell off my head. I caught her, wondering how she had escaped the jar in the first place. I looked to the jar on my nightstand. The lid appeared to have been burnt, thin metal peeling outward from the inside.
I looked back to the fae in my hand, and, as if on cue, she burst into back flames.
The blue fire didn't hurt, but I still panicked and let go of the not-firefly.
Instead of coming back to me, the fairy floated down to the floor, as if waiting for something.
"No, come back!" I mouthed. Instead, she slid under the closed door.
After about a minute of waiting, it occurred to me that I was supposed to follow her and stubbornly got out of bed.
It was so early in the morning that my parents were still asleep, as was the rooster that would wake everyone up. (So, maybe 5 am?)
In a nightgown and slippers, I carefully snuck to the backyard, where this Will-O-The-Wisp was moving to. She stopped by the entrance to the forest, and just like last night, a line of more Wisps formed.
I didn't think much of going into the woods alone, at the crack of dawn, pursuing
a group of sprites that could be ill-intentioned.
After what seemed like forever of moving deeper into the forest, I got to an unfamiliar clearing. The line of Wisps was shortening, and by the time I was at the center of the field, the last one had disappeared.
Now I was truly alone.
I began investigating the area, looking for anything that the fae might want me to see: fairy circles (portals to their world), gravestones (their past lives?), bronze figurines (symbols of old gods), etc. There were only trees, grass, the usual field things.
Disappointed, I found my way back home, just as the rooster called out by the farm.
That night, when I went back to the backyard for another night of firefly-catching, the Will-O-Wisp returned.
There were still no fireflies.
"What do ye want?" I demanded, knowing that they couldn't answer.
Just like before, a line of them appeared as I approached.
Maybe they will take me someplace different, I thought.
So, I followed again.
Only for them to take me on the same route.
To the same field.
Just when I was about to turn around and walk back, I saw it in the corner of my eye.
There were so many of them, more than enough to fill the new jar I brought.
Later, I would learn that Will-O-The-Wisps bring people to their greatest desires. Some got riches, others lovers, others lost family members.
For me at age eight, that had been fireflies.
Unfortunately, I never saw a Will-O-The-Wisp again after that.