Friday Flash: Here Be Dragons
This week Chuck Wendig is back on the job, and he gave us a pretty simple and open-ended challenge: write about a dragon. He then suggested that we think outside the box, maybe do something other than the obvious fantasy story. There's another kind of dragon most of us meet sooner or later. Young Georgie conquers one sort in this story. Chuck gave us 2000 words; I used right around 1000 of them. You are welcome to the rest.
Saint Georgie and the Dragon Lady
The residents of Oakblossom Lane all knew her, and they were all scared of her. There were two or three cranky old guys who sat on their front porches and hollered, “get off my lawn!’ but they were scared of her too. The children mocked the old guys. They didn’t mock Mrs. DuMont.
“Mom says she’s ruled this street since Adam was a pup.”
“I don’t know any dogs named Adam. And anyway, dogs aren't very old, so that's not such a big deal.”
Georgie fixed Alec with a disdainful sneer. “Don’t you know anything? Adam was the first man.”
“First man on Oakblossom Lane?”
“First man anywhere ever.” Georgie tossed her head, making all her braids dance and the beads click. She’d sat for hours to have those braids done, and she was going to make full use of them. They clicked for disdain of a boy who didn't understand anything.
“Oh, that Adam,” Alec said as though he’d known all along. “If she’s been here since before Adam, who did she rule then?”
“I don’t know. Maybe the animals?”
“Suppose that makes her Adam’s mom?” The children of Oakblossom Lane—a stupid name, especially for a run-down street on the wrong side of the tracks with few blossoms and no oaks—peered again through the ragged hedge that hid them from the woman in her garden. Their Sunday-school lessons had said nothing about Adam’s mom.
“Maybe,” Georgie allowed. Wouldn't Adam have died of fear of her? She peered through the branches. Mrs. DuMont was still keeping the birds away from her peas. She was also keeping the children away from the soccer ball that lay only a few feet from her in a lettuce patch.
“Well, I don’t care if she is older than Adam,” Cecile said. “Someone has to get our ball back or we’ll have to go in and do homework.”
That was a powerful argument. Everyone turned to look at Georgie. Georgie looked at Alec.
“Not me. No way,” he said. “Dad says she’s a real dragon lady. Dragons eat little kids. So I’m not going near her.”
“Guess we need a knight to ride in there and kill her” giggled Cecile, who read the sort of books that talked about dragons.
The children heard a chuckle behind them. Mr. Jones, who had earlier chased them off his lawn, which was really just a weed-patch, stood there. “I guess you kids need St. George the Dragon-Slayer.”
They looked at him, not knowing just what he was talking about and wondering if he was offering to help them.
He wasn’t. He just stood there with his arms crossed, laughing at them.
Then they thought about the name he’d offered. Saint George. They all turned to look at Georgie again.
“I guess it has to be you,” Jamal said. Everyone nodded.
Georgie knew when she was beaten. Six second-graders told her in four languages that it was her job. She took one last look through the hedge and stood up.
“If even the grown-ups are scared of her,” she said, looking at Mr. Jones, “I don’t know how you expect me to beat her. But,” she tossed those braids again and the music of the beads gave her courage, “I will. You’ll see.”
Little chin thrust forward, and with a few leaves from the hedge still clinging to her hair, Georgie marched out of Jamal’s garden and around to the sidewalk. No one followed her to carry her shield or cheer her as she went into battle against the dragon.
“Figures,” she muttered. Leave it all to her, as usual. Whoever Saint George was, he'd probably had to go alone too. Well, whatever Alec said, she didn’t believe the Dragon Lady would eat her. Probably not, anyway.
Georgie stood on the walk in front of Mrs. DuMont’s house and waited to stop shaking. She shook worse the longer she stood there, so in the end she ignored her fear and marched up the walk and around to the side of the house. Drat Jamal, anyway. If he didn’t kick the ball so hard, it wouldn’t be in Mrs. DuMont’s lettuce patch. He should have come for it, but he was chicken, as always.
Georgie walked around the corner of the house and froze. Close up the dragon lady looked about ten feet tall. She was scowling, and she was looking right at Georgie as though contemplating if she'd be better with BBQ sauce or curry.
“What do you want?” As if she didn’t know. Georgie saw her glance at the soccer ball. Why hadn’t she at least removed it from the lettuce?
“Please, ma’am, we’d like our soccer ball, please.” Georgie wanted to be as polite as she could be. Maybe dragons didn’t eat polite children.
It didn’t help. “Hmph. I don’t see any ‘we.’ Just one skinny little girl.”
“No, ma’am. They sent me.”
Snort. “So you want your soccer ball.”
“It’s sitting on my lettuce.”
Georgie nodded again, and took a step toward the ball.
“What are you going to do about my lettuce?”
Georgie looked closer. Several lettuce plants looked a bit squashed, and there were broken leaves. She didn’t know anything about gardens. Could you fix a broken leaf?
“I could put a band-aid on it and kiss it to make it better.”
The dragon lady made a face. In fact, her face seemed to be twitching. When she spoke, her voice was a bit strangled. “Do you think that will fix it?”
“It’s what Mama does when I skin my knee.” Georgie stuck out her leg where a pair of band-aids crossed over a scrape. “It works. If it’s really bad,” she confided, “Mama gives me ice cream. That always works. Can lettuces eat ice cream?”
“Perhaps we should skip the ice cream. I doubt lettuce plants will appreciate it.” Mrs. DuMont’s face was twitching again, and she seemed to be choking on something.
“Do you have a band-aid?” Georgie stuck to the point. She also boldly reached and picked up the ball, and bent down to kiss the injured plant.
Mrs. DuMont gave up the battle and smiled. Georgie almost dropped the ball back on the lettuce, she was so surprised. The dragon lady could smile?
Then the unthinkable happened.
Mrs. DuMont laughed.
And on the other side of the hedge, six second-graders gasped in wonder. St. Georgie the Dragon Slayer had triumphed.
©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2016
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