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At the Edge of the Crowd
Harry stood at the edge of the crowd, staring up at the dinosaur skeleton with fascination. He didn’t know where his parents were. It should have worried him, but he was too enthralled by the T-Rex. He imagined the dinosaur as it had been eons ago, with bright yellow eyes and reptilian flesh covering its bones. In his imagination, the T-Rex turned to Harry, and grinned wickedly.
Harry gulped, no longer paralyzed with enchantment, but now with fear. The dinosaur opened its mouth and roared. The tourists around Harry screamed and ran for cover, trying to escape the gnashing teeth of the giant reptile. But Harry stood still. There was a look in the dinosaur’s eyes that gave the kid pause, and his fear was slowly evaporating. He took a step forward.
“Hey, Dino,” he called up. He pushed at his glasses and scratched his blond head. “You know you’re alone, don’t you?”
The dinosaur roared with defiance, swinging its tail behind it, breaking priceless artifacts placed around the room in the museum. Harry wasn’t scared any more. He took another step forward.
“I’m alone, too,” he said. “I don’t know where my parents are. Want to help me find them?”
The T-Rex opened his mouth wide, ready to swallow Harry, but paused. It tilted its head to the side, examining the skinny boy with its great yellow eyes. Harry saw that its pupils were slits, like a snake’s. Then the dinosaur closed its big scary mouth and nodded. Grinning, Harry climbed onto its back, perching on top its great scaly head.
“Let’s check out the Egyptian place,” Harry suggested. “Mom loves the Egyptians.” Nodding with agreement, the dinosaur took off. As Harry looked around, he realized that he was the only remaining tourist in the museum. This wouldn’t have bothered him, except that he wondered if his mom and dad had left with everyone else. He quickly shook the thought away. “They wouldn’t leave me,” he muttered aloud.
The T-Rex tilted its head, questioning. “Oh, I’m just talking to myself, Dino,” Harry told it. “Can I call you Dino?”
The dinosaur shook his head, excited about his new name, almost throwing Harry off. “Hey, careful!” the boy laughed. “Don’t forget I’m here!” No longer rigorously moving his head around, Dino ducked under a doorway, breaking the wall around him, although he tried to be careful. Both dinosaur and boy emerged in the dimly lightly, slightly spooky Egyptian display.
“Don’t break anything,” Harry warned Dino. “I don’t want any mummies coming out to join us.” He looked around, trying to spot his mom. He knew what she would look like; blond hair, like his, and freckles all over her face. He didn’t see her. “Mom!” he yelled. He waited for an answer, but none came. Just his own voice, echoing off the glass cases.
Dino was getting nervous. A pharaoh’s statue stared at him, its blue and gold headpiece glittering in the low light. There was an animal resting above the pharaoh’s forehead, but Dino didn’t know what it was. Suddenly he saw it move. He backed up quickly and knocked over a glass case. The glass shattered, and a sarcophagus fell to the ground. Harry looked to where the sound had come from and gasped.
Crawling out of the cracked sarcophagus was a human body, wrapped in moldy cloths and so skinny, Harry wondered if it had any flesh left. “Mummy!” he screamed. “Dino, let’s get out of here!”
Dino did not argue. He roared, hoping that would scare the mummy, and burst out of the hole he had created in the wall. Harry shouted as they ran, “The space section! Dad loves space! And its upstairs, hopefully the mummy can’t climb stairs.”
Dino practically leaped up to the second story, pounding toward the space exhibit. Harry twisted around, trying to spot the mummy. It was still struggling out of the Egyptian exhibit. “Ha!” he said. “It can’t even walk straight. We’ve lost him, Dino!”
Dino roared with delight and skidded to a halt as he entered the space exhibit. He wacked a floating planet with his tail, but other than that managed to not break anything. Harry slid down Dino’s back, landing on his sneakered feet with a small thud. “Okay, Dino, here’s the plan,” he said. Dino bent his head down so he could look at Harry with his yellow eyes. “I’ll look around for Dad, and you stay here. If the mummy comes up the stairs, eat it.”
Dino straightened with duty. Harry swore that if he could’ve saluted with his short arms, he would have. Nodding with satisfaction, the boy began searching, calling for his dad.
No one was in the space section, either. Harry looked for his dad; a tall, skinny guy with hair so disheveled it wouldn’t lie down, even when he tried. Glasses slipped down his nose, and he was constantly pushing them up with his index. Harry loved that about him, because it reminded him of himself. “Dad!” he called, looking up at a model space shuttle. He touched a rock from the moon absently as he walked along the lonely exhibit. “Where are you? Mom? Dad?”
No one answered. From behind him, Dino roared, but he hardly noticed. He felt tears gather in his eyes, and angrily, he wiped them away, smudging his glasses in the process. Finally, he realized he was lost and alone, with no one but a dinosaur who didn’t even belong in this time period. Sitting at the feet of the Mars rover, he put his head in his arms and shook. The tears that poured from his shut eyes he didn’t even try to stop.
“Harry!” came a far away voice. Harry sniffed and looked up. He thought at first that Dino had learned to talk. But when the call came again, it was a woman’s voice. He got to his feet and cautiously walked to a window overlooking the street at the museum’s front. A huge crowd gathered around the building, looking at the doors as if they might explode at any minute. A line of police kept the crowd back, and a man and a woman stood at the very front of the crowd, right next to two police men. One was keeping the woman back as she screamed Harry’s name. The other was arguing with the man, who kept pushing sliding glasses up his nose.
Harry choked on a happy sob. “Mom! Dad!” he yelled.
“Harry!” his mother screamed. She turned to the policeman holding her. “You have to let me in to him! You don’t understand, my son’s in there!”
“So is a live dinosaur,” the policeman said. Somehow Harry could hear their conversation.
“That’s why he needs me! I told him I would never leave, and I have, and that was the biggest mistake of my life!” his mom said.
“Mom, I’m up here!” Harry called, trying to open the window. He couldn’t, and so he turned and ran to Dino. The T-Rex was licking his chops, a tattered moldy rag on the ground. He looked at Harry questioningly, curious about the boy’s sudden eagerness.
“Dino, we have to get out of here! I know where my parents are!” Harry climbed back on top of the dinosaur, and together they ran down the steps, and burst through the front wall of the museum. Most of the people screamed, but Harry could hear his parents’ happy laughter at seeing him. Jumping from Dino’s head, he ran to his parents, who were already ready to embrace him.
In his parents’ arms, Harry felt safe and secure, and he knew that they would never lose sight of him again.
At the edge of the crowd, a skinny blond orphan stood. He stared at the dinosaur’s skeleton with a faraway look in his eyes and a faint smile. A single tear made its way down his cheek, but he didn’t notice.
His name was Harry.