A dragon for homework


The setting here involves a large apartment in a vertical condo facing a calm ocean bay in Flowertown.

Birgit, nine years old, read a story in school about a family of dragons. As a home assignment, she should write an imaginary dialogue with the prehistoric family’s youngest and friendliest member. At least, according to the story and bright illustrations, he was adorable. She wrote about how much she would like meeting him—she thought offensive to use the pronoun it for that sunny character. She started her composition by asking the creature what would make him very happy. His likely answer—placing herself in the dragon’s place—was that eating a large pizza with rich chocolate borders after frolicking in a swimming pool filled to the brim balls with the colors of the rainbow would make him the happiest of all living animals. Then, as she wanted to finish the school task, she closed her dialogue with an invitation to the dragon to visit her home.

The girl went to sleep. Her sister, Eill, was already asleep in the twin bed by the window.

At the break of dawn, Birgit figured that Bella, the family puppy elkhound, might not have water. So, she went to the balcony to check. Bella had plenty to drink and to eat.

She extended her eyes to the bay in front, bathed by moonlight. Then something panicked her. She envisaged a green rock at the top of the small cement wall that set the limit between shoreline and sidewalk, free of the usual joggers and walkers.

The moving green rock that started crossing the highway bewitched the girl. There were no trucks or cars: the traffic light must have been red, she thought.

As the greenish boulder moved closer to view, the girl realized it was not a rock! It could be a dragon. And it seemed to be coming towards her apartment building! She felt relief for she lived on the 10th floor.

Her sister Eill came to the balcony to know what was happening: she had heard Birgit’s sighs and crying. Birgit told her to look carefully at the moving rock. Eill then understood her sister’s tears, sighs, and fear because the unhurried stone was the dragon Brigit had invited to their home in the school assignment. It could not be for real! Homework was nothing but something that had to do with a school obligation and getting a grade.

Birgit was puzzled because it was—her own words—a stupid dialogue she had written for a silly story’s dummy character. Nobody had read it yet. Her homeroom teacher would get it the next day. How come such a made-up conversation had reached the small dragon’s ears?

The girl did not know what to do. Eill teased her sister with a big statement, “Once you have invited him, the creature is your sole responsibility. ” She had to keep her word. The two girls took the elevator and went down to meet the dragon.

However, they stopped at the lobby. The noise from the four-lane-avenue became too intense for such an early hour. Mr. Wilson, the doorperson, told them not to go outside, for there had been a hit-and-run accident with a victim. Birgit fainted. Eill asked him for details. His depiction was vile: the ambulance, which by pure luck was near, started collecting the victim’s pieces but stopped it all at once. The paramedics decided to call Flowertown’s Animal Protection Department to determine what to do with the creature’s remains. The FAPD was at the scene of the crime—Mr. Wilson’s words—to decide. Birgit had recovered though she could not stop crying. He promised the girls he would go outside to bring them fresh news, not before asking them to call their parents. It was only six-fifteen. The sisters, though, did not want them there.

Less than ten minutes went by. Suddenly, Mr. Wilson enters the lobby as if he had to run for life. Mrs. Sombor, the gardener, came with a pitcher filled with water: half of it to wake Birgit from her blackout; the other half to sprinkle Mr. Wilson’s face to prevent his collapse.

When both had gone back to their feet, Mr. Wilson eventually spoke, “Flowertown will make the CNN today! You cannot, not even in your wildest dreams, imagine the story behind the bits and pieces of that victim. I will tell you! It was something like a big fat lizard, though almost tailless. The guy from FAPD would send its remains to the United States to check on its possible species. The man believed it had come from outer space or constituted a specimen that had survived extinction and deserved serious investigation. He said it might be a member of the dinosaur family. “God bless our souls! Who knows? The changes in weather in our world might bring strange things to our lives. Imagine, next, a fire-breathing dragon inhabits our beach! The end is near, I tell you…”

Birgit, very cautiously, dared to ask, “By any means, is there a possibility of the creature be a baby dragon ?”

Mr. Wilson sat on a padded chair. He scratched his bushy eyebrows and then his large ears. He looked through the crystal ornaments hanging from the chandelier and was about to say something. The girls waited for an answer. Mrs. Sombor stared at the man on the chair. She took her cell phone and hit some keys. She walked the girls to the elevator and told them to stay inside their apartment for a long while

Birgit and Eill entered the living room. Not a sound there. Not even Bella was around. Their parents and the puppy were still asleep. Eill checked the time on her phone: it was six-ten.

Illustration by Mausilinda

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