And so, Maya and the Flower Elf set off together on a clear midsummer night. Little Maya was so happy that she could trust this beautiful white being to lead her wherever they were going. She wanted to ask the Flower Elf a thousand questions, but she didn’t dare. As they flew through a row of trees, a dark moth buzzed above them, as large and strong as a bird.
“Wait, please,” called the Flower Elf. Maya was surprised to see how quickly the moth responded.
All three of them settled on a branch, overlooking the moonlit landscape. The moth flapped its wings as if creating a cool breeze. Bright blue, slanted stripes marked its wings. Its head seemed to be made of velvet with a face like a mysterious mask with dark eyes. How wondrous are these creatures of the night! A cold shiver went through Maya, who thought she was dreaming the strangest dream of her life.
“You’re really beautiful,” said Maya, who was very impressed, to the moth.
“Who is your traveling companion?” the moth asked the Flower Elf.
“A bee. I met her just as I left my flower.”
The moth seemed to understand what that meant. He looked at Maya almost jealously. “You’re really lucky,” he said in a serious and thoughtful tone, shaking his head back and forth.
“Are you sad?” asked the warm-hearted Maya.
The moth shook his head. “No, not sad.” And he gave Maya such a friendly look that she would have liked to become friends with him right then and there.
“Is the bat still abroad, or has he gone to rest?” This was the question for which the Flower Elf had made the moth stop.
“Oh, he’s been resting for a long time. You want to know because of your traveling companion?”
The Flower Elf nodded. Maya wanted to know what a bat was, but the Flower Elf seemed to be in a hurry.
“Come on, Maya,” she said, “we have to hurry. The night is so short.”
“Can I carry you part of the way?” the moth asked.
“Another time, please,” called the Flower Elf.
“Then it will never happen,” Maya thought as they flew away, “because the Flower Elf must die at dawn.”
The moth remained lost in thought on the leaf. “I’ve heard so many times that I’m gray and ugly,” he said to himself. “And that my pattern cannot compare to the splendor of a butterfly. But the little bee saw something beautiful in me! And she asked if I was sad. No, I’m not sad,” he decided.
Meanwhile, Maya and the Flower Elf flew through the dense bushes of the garden. The cool breath of the dew and the dim moonlight made the flowers and trees look enchantingly beautiful. Maya was amazed by it all. She squeezed the Flower Elf’s hand and looked at her. A light of happiness shone from the elf’s eyes.
“Who could have dreamed this!” whispered the little bee.
At that moment, she saw something that gave her a shock. “Oh,” she exclaimed, “Look! A star has fallen! It’s wandering around and can’t find its way back to its place in the sky.”
“That’s a firefly,” said the Flower Elf, without a smile.
Now Maya knew why she liked the Flower Elf so much – the elf never laughed at her when she said something wrong.
“Fireflies are strange creatures,” said the flower elf. “They always carry their own lamp and light up the darkness under the bushes where the moon doesn’t shine. Later, when we are among people, you will also get to know a firefly.”
“Why?” asked Maya.
“You’ll see soon enough.”
By that time, they had almost descended to the ground in a bower of jasmine and apricot. There was a faint whisper and the flower elf beckoned a firefly.
“Would you be so kind,” she asked, “to give us a little light in this dark foliage?”
“But your glow is much brighter than mine.”
“I think so too,” Maya exclaimed excitedly.
“I have to wrap myself in a leaf,” the fairy explained, “or else people would see me and be afraid. We elves only appear in dreams to people.”
“I understand,” said the firefly. “I’ll do what I can, but will that big creature you have with you hurt me?”
The elf shook her head, and the firefly believed her. Then the elf wrapped herself in a leaf. She plucked a small bell from the grass and placed it as a helmet on her shiny head. Only her tiny face was visible, but no one would notice. She asked the firefly to sit on her shoulder and to dim his light on one side with his wing.
“Come now,” she said, taking Maya’s hand. “We’d better climb up here.”
As they climbed up the vine, Maya asked, “Do people dream when they sleep?”
“They dream when they sleep, but sometimes even when they are awake. Their dreams are always more beautiful than their lives.”
The elf now put her little finger to her lips, bent a small flowering twig of jasmine aside, and gently pushed Maya forward. “Look down,” she said softly, “you’ll see what you’ve always wanted to see now.”
Maya and the fairy saw two people. On a bench, in the shadow of the moonlight, a boy and a girl sat. The girl’s head rested on his shoulder, and the boy held his arm protectively around her. They sat in complete silence. Maya stared at the girl with golden hair and red lips. She seemed melancholy but also very happy. Then she turned to the boy and whispered something in his ear, which brought a magical smile to his face. Maya thought that only an earthly creature could look like that. Pure happiness radiated from his eyes.
“Now I have seen the most beautiful thing in my life,” she whispered to herself. “I now know that people are at their most beautiful when they are in love.”
She didn’t know how long she sat there, but when she turned around, the firefly’s light had gone out and the flower elf had disappeared. In the distance, daylight was dawning.