Buddy and Holly came bouncing up to Egbert, ready with any number of humorous things to say to tease him. Teasing Egbert was one of their favorite pass times. Buddy liked to say that Egbert wasn’t one of the brightest bulbs in the batch, and Holly usually commented on the squirrelly round glasses that magnified his eyes and made them appear to be popping out of his head, or the way that he stuttered when he talked. When they ran out of jibs on those subjects, they could always make fun of his name, telling him that his mother must not like him at all to give him a name like that; obviously, she didn’t love him or she would have given him a better name than Egbert, uh! Usually long before they got that far the tears were running down Egbert’s face. Sometimes he started tearing up as soon as he saw them coming.
That wasn’t the case today. Today, Egbert was actually happy to see them. He had something wonderful to show them and it was so special that once they saw it, they wouldn’t make fun of him anymore. “Hi Buddy! Hi Holly!” he said, heading over to meet them with a huge grin on his face.
“What are you so happy about, Egg Head?” Buddy asked.
“Yeah. You look ridiculous. That grin is almost bigger than your face. Close your mouth, so I can see you.” Holly said with a giggle.
“Wait until you see what I found!” Egbert said. “You guys aren’t going to believe this.”
“Oh, right,” Holly replied. “What could you possibly have that would even interest us?”
Egbert grinned even bigger as he looked from Buddy to Holly, and back to Buddy again. He was absolutely beaming with excitement.
Holly looked over at Buddy uneasily. When he glanced back at her, the uncertainty showed in his eyes.
Finally, Buddy broke the silence. “Well, are you just going to stand there with that silly grin on your face or are you going to show us whatever it is that you found?”
Egbert came out of his reverie. “What? Oh, yes of course. Just wait until you see!” He turned, running back toward his house, leaving the two of them standing there in puzzlement.
They looked at one another. “What do you think has him so excited?” Holly asked through the side of her mouth in a hushed voice, but Egbert could still hear her.
“Probably some old seashell from the beach or something,” Buddy replied.
“I don’t think so. He wouldn’t show us something like that anyway because he knows we’d just take it from him if it was cool or smash it if it wasn’t.” Holly said. “Besides, don’t you think it’s weird that he hasn’t stuttered at all?”
Before Buddy could answer, Egbert came racing around the side of the house with a jar which glowed from within.
“A firefly?” Holly said in disbelief. “We’re supposed to be impressed by a firefly?”
Egbert shook his head. “It’s not a firefly.”
“Then what is it?” Buddy asked. “It sure looks like a firefly to me.”
“Does it look like a firefly?” Egbert said, holding the jar up higher, so that they could see better. They squinted as the light coming from the jar seemed to get brighter, much too bright to be produced by a little firefly. Finally, they turned away, unable to look directly at it.
“Actually, that doesn’t look like any firefly I ever saw.” Buddy admitted.
“I told you, it’s not a firefly,” Egbert said.
“So, what is it? What did you find?” Holly asked. Egbert now had their full attention.
Egbert beamed and grinned once more. “I found enlightenment! I was playing down at the beach, when I saw it sitting, half buried in the sand. I scooped it up and carried it home and put it in this baggie for safe keeping.”
Buddy was skeptical. “Enlightenment? How do you know that’s what it is?”
“Because I can feel it.” Egbert replied. “I know things now that I didn’t know before.”
“Like what?” asked Holly.
“Like I know that you guys aren’t really bad people. You only do all of those mean things to me because you don’t feel very good about yourselves.” Egbert replied.
Buddy and Holly looked at each other nervously. Then they looked back at Egbert.
“It’s okay. Don’t be afraid,” Egbert said. “I also know now that all the things that I dreamed about doing to get back at you came from petty feelings. I want you guys to be my friends, just like I always wanted, only now I know that I don’t have to change who I am to do that.”
Buddy shuffled from foot to foot nervously. Usually ready with a smart comeback to anything, it seemed he suddenly had nothing to say.
Holly eyed Egbert distrustfully. “What do you mean?”
“Here,” Egbert said, holding the bag up closer to them. “If you just feel it, you’ll understand everything.”
“That’s okay,” said Buddy, backing into Holly.
“What are you afraid of?” Egbert asked.
“I-it’s nothing.” Holly said, stumbling over her own feet to get out of Buddy’s path. “I-it’s just that, well…, w-what if you’re wrong?”
Suddenly, Buddy found his voice. “Yeah, that might not even be enlightenment at all. Even if it is, how do we know that that is something that we would want to have any part of?” He spoke bravely, but he kept backing away.
“Doesn’t everyone want enlightenment?” Egbert asked, truly puzzled by their strange behavior.
“I’m not sure that I d-do.” Holly said, stammering the words. “L-look at y-you. L-look at the ch-changes that it has m-made in you already. And l-look at m-me, too. I d-don’t know w-why I’m st-st-stuttering all of a s-sudden!” Tears streamed down Holly’s face. She turned, rushing out of the yard and down the street.
“Hey wait, Holly!” Egbert called after her. “I know a good speech therapist. I’ll give you her card.”
“I uh, I think I should go and see if she’s okay.” Buddy said, running out of the yard, as well.
As he watched him go, Egbert got another grin on his face, this one however, had a sly cast to it. “Tsk. Tsk.” he said, shaking his head. “My speech therapy finally paid off. I really thought that they would be more impressed.” He opened the jar and lay it down in the grass where two small winged beetles crawled out and seperated from one another before flying away into the night. “Imagine getting so upset over two little glowbugs.” Egbert chuckled to himself all the way back into his house.
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