The Hing Hoi only go to the Lamphu. They were lovers at one point. But after death this is how they stay close. The fireflies only survive in the cork trees. Their relationship is delicate, just as it was before. However, now it feels more important that they stay familiar. The hing hoi and the lamphu may be unaware of their significance to the immediate world. They are simply trying to last, but to those watching, believing, hoping, the enormity is immeasurable.
“They can’t be photographed. It is near impossible. That is why you need to see them now.” He told me as I raised my camera to take a picture of the illuminated tree. The fireflies looked as though they had dropped from the stars and got tangled in the light, strong branches of the cork trees. So I watched. They glittered. They made it look easy. Imitating stars and the universes above came as naturally to them as every breath comes to us.
Many days of the week I felt our age difference. He had 12 more years of life. Of experience. Of heart break. Of creativity. Of passion. He was better acquainted with the story. Tonight was different. I could see the light in his eyes behind his glasses. He was excited. He was back to boyhood. He leaned as far over the boat as he could and watched the fireflies surround us on either side of the river. From the roots to the tips of the braches. Our guide spoke. He translated, wanting me to understand the mysticism of it all. We sat close. The seats were small. He felt familiar.
We got back to our bungalow at midnight. He spoke with freedom. We had become so frequent with one another, that many of our moments were quiet. It did not make us uncomfortable. Tonight was different. Talking felt easier than quiet. We sipped on our light, transparent beers on the porch. It was still warm enough outside to make our skin glisten. We avoided the fact that in couple of days this easy, frequent, quiet relationship would disappear. We wouldn’t be able to be quiet together. We would be quiet apart, creating a distance rather than an intimacy.
The old beagle that belonged to the owner of the bungalows laid down with us. He was asleep. He snored. Gray was enveloping his face. It felt real. I could stay and have a life in Thailand. This thought scared me.
I didn’t get to say goodbye to him.