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Me, Myself...and Dragon?

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The horn honks. I grab my bag and slam the house's door behind me. My dad, Walt Davidson, peels out as soon as I get in.
Walt's a film director. He's kinda famous, I guess. Enough that sometimes people will get the connection when I tell them my name.
He looks at me in the rearview and scowls. "Do you have to dress like that, Riles?"
"Riley. Not Riles."
No, he isn't. I pull my sketchpad out of my duffel bag. The pad falls open to a blank page. My pencil hovers above the page and then decisively dives down.
Th picture takes shape almost without me having to think about it. I pause for a moment as we bump over a series of ruts, avoiding jerky scrawls all over my drawing. When the pencil sketch is finished, I hold it up and look at it.
It's a picture of the park near my house, but for some reason, I've decided to add a Chinese dragon. Down to the whiskers and the big fat pearl.
The dragon is invisble to the passersby, except for one little girl. She reaches toward the dragon, joy captured on her little face.
I write my name in the corner of the drawing. Walt looks back and says with a pretense at cheerfulness, "Whatcha doing, honey?"
He laughs. "Why did I bother to ask, Riles?"
That shuts him up for a while. I focus my attention back to the drawing. A whisper of white hair hangs down in front of my face. I push it back without thinking. My hand goes straight through it.
Great. This thing.
I'm not crazy. Really. I just see these little things: what I can pretty easily identify as claws, a tail's tip, this hair stuff.
I try to ignore it, but it's hard when it's just dangling around in my face. I concentrate on my pencil and paper.
Then it just gets too annoying to ignore. I try something that's worked a couple times in the past.
I visualize it solid. It slowly loses its faint transparency. The edges crystallize. I shove it out of my way, relieved.
Everything I draw today is dragons. Medieval. Chinese. Spewing fire, counting gold, fighting knights, sleeping.
I shove my sketchpad to the ground. I'm sick of this. My laptop peeks out of my bag, and I power it up to check my email.
Something about correspondence courses.
"Really, Walt? Correspondence courses?"
He nods. I can see it in the rearview. "Yes. It'll be easier, Riles -"
"- to keep your grades up. Colleges care about this stuff."
College. We've had this discussion. "I'm going to an arts college."
Walt groans. "Riley Alister Davidson. You are not going to an arts college. You're going to a regular college, an Ivy League if you can swing it, and you're going to earn a respectable degree." He looks at me in the mirror. "Although you won't get into any college, dressed like that."
Another thing about me: I'm what most people would call 'goth'. Not 'emo', just 'goth'. I like black and wear it almost exclusively. My hair is (albeit naturally) black, with some dyed white streaks, because they freak Walt out.
I'm not pierced, though.
For the next several hours, the silence in the car is broken only by the scritch-scratch of a pencil on paper. Walt is the first to talk, with a "Hotel ahoy!"
My dad likes to think he's cool.
When we get into the room, I order a cot. Walt's hungry and goes out to a restaurant, promising to bring something back for me. As soon as he's gone, the white hair-thing dangles in front of me again.
I spin around to try and find the source of it. I've done this before, with no success. This time is different.
A sapphire blue chin hangs above me. I shriek and scramble forward. As soon as I'm safely in a corner, I turn around and get my first look at the uninvited guest.
I know why I've been drawing dragons.
There's one right in front of me. A sapphire-and-gold Chinese dragon. It just sits there and watches me. It doesn't say anything, and I don't know what unnerves me more: the fact that it's silent, or the idea that I'm actually expecting a mythological creature to speak.
And then it does. But not out loud. Kind of in my head.
{Little girl.}
I freeze.
{Little girl, I don't want to hurt you. I want to be your friend.} It walks up to me and nuzzles my side, which feels like it's gone into rigor mortis.
It pulls back and looks at my face. I feel the frown. {You're not Chinese.}
I gulp and try to find my voice. The words come out in a squeak. "Why am I supposed to be Chinese?"
{You can see me.}
I've always been able to see things. I guess it was this dragon. The thought gets articulated, but just barely.
My curiosity wins out over my fear. I snake my arm out to grab my sketchpad and pencil and start to draw.
The picture that flows from the graphite takes shape slowly. It's this dragon, curled up in front of the fireplace in a luxurious hotel room. I glance up occasionally to make sure I'm getting details of the dragon's appearance right.
A half-hour passes in this way, and then when I look up, it's moved. I'm startled by the inside-head voice. {That's very good, you know.}
"Thanks," I say, spinning to look at it. It nods affably, and I realize that maybe there really isn't a reason to be scared. "What's your name?" In the stories, dragons always have names.
{Ching Yang.}
Definitely Chinese. I nod and write it on a blank page, the Chinese characters taking form under my hands as if by magic. "I'll call you Chingy."
{And I will call you Riles.}
Hey! "No, you won't."
{If you call me Chingy I will call you Riles.}
Ooh. A threat, given and received. I decide to make sure it isn't bluffing. "Sure, Ching...y."
"Kay. Whatever. Ching."
We sit there peaceably, me still trying to come to terms with the fact that I was just joking with a dragon. A dragon! A creature that, according to all accounts, isn't even supposed to exist. And there's one sitting here next to me.
When I wake up (I didn't even know I'd fallen asleep), I'm snugly tucked into my cot. Walt. There's a plate of food on the hearth with a note and twenty dollars beside it. The note reads:
I decided to let you sleep. I have my cell if you need me, I should be home by dinner. Buy yourself something for lunch.
What a caring father-daughter relationship we have.
I'm assuming Walt didn't see Ching as he tucked me in, otherwise he would have woken me up. Definitely. So that would mean...I'm the only one who can see my dragon.
A dragon. The dragon.
My dragon.
Ching makes a purring kind of noise and unravels slowly. He wraps his serpentine form around me. "Let go."
He catches sight of the plate on the hearth. {Food.} Ching proceeds to attack my breakfast.
"Hey! NO! My food!"
"My food! Go find your own food!"
I give up. If the big dragon with the sharp claws wants the food, the big dragon with the sharp claws can have the food.
I believe in self-preservation.
An hour later, Ching has cleaned the plate (my plate) and returned to coherence. My stomach growls loudly. He cocks his head and asks curiously, {What's that noise?}
"My stomach," I answer irritably. "I'm hungry because someone ate my breakfast."
I can see the futility of this conversation already. "Whatever."
I grab my sketchpad and draw Ching stretched out on the bed. When the sketch is done, I look at it critically. It's missing something.
And then I realize what.
I add myself curled against him, basking in the warmth of the fire.

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This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

enchanter8296 said...
Jun. 11, 2011 at 6:23 pm
Woo-hoo! They fixed it!! I hope you like the article without the quotation issues :)
enchanter8296 said...
Feb. 8, 2011 at 7:47 pm
Hi, This is the author. I'm REALLY sorry for the quotation marks!! This is NOT, repeat, IS NOT the way I submitted it. I know that they disrupt the flow of the article but please realize that they are not intended to be that way and not use it as an excuse to rate me down. Sorry for the run-on. Thanks!
charmiypiggy said...
Feb. 8, 2011 at 5:16 am

I like this. :D The idea you have for it is interesting. Your descriptions are good. There are, however, a few things you could probably do to improve it. Though most of the words you used fit in nicely with the story, there are a few that you could maybe change. And the quote thingy is quite annoying when I was trying to read. When I found out that your character was female, I was surprised. I had simply assumed that it was a guy. I don't know why, but it irks me. Perhaps you should giv... (more »)

enchanter8296 replied...
Jun. 23, 2011 at 11:41 am
You totally helped! I'm going to rewrite this, fix some stuff I don't really like and your suggestions are definitely going to be in there :) tell me if I should publish it again.
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