by Julie Eberhart Painter
While waiting for my mother to finish her shopping, I sat on the grocery store porch thinking about Horrible Horace and licking a double-decker chocolate ice-cream cone. As it melted slowly toward my fingers, I watched Horrible Horace, the bully, clamoring down the street on his blue bike. He menaced me at school because I believed in the Red Dragon that fought the White Dragon to save Wales. If only I had that kind of power.
My eyes wandered along the railing, down the uprights, over the green vines that threatened to consume the store as the woods grew closer each year. A flash of chartreuse drew my attention. I focused directly at the source. Big black eyes peered from a green and orange face. A huge gelatinous head oozed over a leaf and fixed me with a look that said “Touch me; you die.” Its red tongue flicked above a knowing lip. I held my breath, waiting for fire and brimstone or poisonous spitting venom to shoot forth. Surely I was in the presence of a baby dragon.
I drew back, my cone forgotten. The worm, as dragons are sometimes called, inched closer. His eyes never left mine. If it were a real dragon, an honest to God, fire-breathing, girl-gobbling dragon, I was its next meal? The dragon enlarged in my concentric cinematic vision. Hypnotized, I followed its progress. Should I rush and tell my mother about the monster? But it might go away and she would never believe me.
Wouldn't it be more fun to unloose the dragon on Horrible Horace?
I concentrated sending toxic messages his way while I watched him showing off. Galloping his two-wheeler like a pony, hopping boulders, he tore down the macadam road at high speed.
Suddenly the front wheel vaulted into the air and he landed nose first in a heap.
Guilt and hysteria merged and I screamed for someone to save him from my venomous wish.
He picked himself up, weeping quietly, his face a pulpy, unrecognizable mess. Blood spattered his curly blond hair.
After that day, he stopped trying to kill me. I in turn gave up calling upon dragons to save me.
Copyright © 2007 by Julie Eberhart Painter