#FridayFlash: The Dragon in the Woodshed
©2012 D. Paul Angel
The morning started cold with a wet, icy fog. The wood had been delivered and was in a decent sized pile just outside the fence. I still had to move the wood already in the shed before I get the new wood in, but my Dad's call had made my tasks seem pointless. I knew I only had today before the rain started again, but all I wanted to do was crawl back under the covers, cling to Kathy, and cry some more.
Instead, I was outside, bundled up against a chill I had so rarely felt before, moving pieces of wood with the enthusiasm of an automaton. I moved one of the last pieces and saw a flick of movement out of the corner of my eye. I was used to seeing the odd newt or snake, but this seemed more colorful than those. I lifted one of the logs and saw a Dragon.
People may think that Chinese Dragons are highly caricatured, but, I can honestly tell you they are not. Photo-realistic was the first word that came to my mind, truth be told. He did not flinch even a touch now that he was uncovered, but simply stared me in the eye; bidding me to speak.
"Hello," I said, proud of myself for not pointing out that he was a Dragon.
"I seek asylum," he said in a deep, resonant voice that did not match his foot long body.
"From what? Who?" I muttered, suddenly very confused and feeling the enormity of talking to a Chinese Dragon in my woodshed.
"From the year, of course."
I suddenly realized what he meant by that and that he wasn't just a dragon so much as the dragon! My earlier confusion was now whisked away in a dreamlike bewilderment as I wrangled with my second new reality of the day. "What happens if you stay?"
"Well," he said, lifting his chin up and looking at me even more intensely as slow coils of smoke wisped out of his nostrils, "Your Mom won't die."
"We don't know she's going to die!" I screamed far louder than needed. I was worried Kathy might've heard before remembering she'd run to the store earlier.
"Of course you do," he said, "Why else would your Dad be crying and also tell you that coming in a couple weeks might not be soon enough?"
Without knowing how I was sitting in front of him, the strength in my legs just simply gave. "How do you know that?" I asked knowing full well the answer.
"I know everything that is to happen to everyone. Every twelve years I come through and the World is that much worse.
"Which is why I seek asylum. I stay here. The calendar runs forward and the Snake arrives. He doesn't care what happens to anyone. I honestly think he enjoys it. So. What's your answer? Another year with your Mom?"
"But, if nothing changes she'll still be suffering?"
"You have to be alive to suffer."
"And what about the good things? Won't good things happen?" I searched my mind, trying to find some known goodness that was just ahead that I could point to. "What about Alyssia getting her cat next week?"
"She'll get her cat, just not for another year."
"But, how would that even work?" I was mentally spent already and confronting a seemingly endless number of paradoxes was beyond me.
"What is, will stay. There will be no change except the length of days. It would be beyond your understanding even if you weren't emotionally crippled.
"Right now? I wouldn't even bother."
"And your poor Dad. He cried just telling you the news. You wouldn't spare him any further pain? How often have you heard him cry?"
"Never," I answered truthfully.
"OK, after the year, then what? She dies when The Snake shows up?"
"Maybe. Maybe not." The Dragon moved back and forth a bit considering. "Say there's a one in a million chance she lives. Slim, but still better than none in a million, right?
"And, of course, there's Kathy."
"What about Kathy?" I asked horrified anew.
"Well, she finds out about you and Tina. I know divorce doesn't happen in my year. But..." the Dragon trailed off before lifting one of his talons to aloofly inspect it.
"There's nothing between me and Tina!" I shrieked. Again, I was soon relieved to remember that Kathy was gone and would not have heard my sudden outburst.
"No, but you want there to be. Look, Seth, you have a choice. This year is either going to suck for you and everyone you love, or you let it percolate and hope it gets better.
"Won't get better. Might, possibly get better. Those are the options that you, and only you get." His eyes beckoned mine with a deep, piercing stare, "So, what's it going be?"