My Uncle Sees Dragons
My uncle sees dragons. He visits me all the time. Sometimes more unexpectedly than most! Today he appears at the door, his beard long and wavy, curling down to the floor. He whips out a monocle and stares down at me.
Despite both us of having perfect hearing, he yells, “Guess what I’ve seen!”
“What!” I cry, not knowing if his beard is real, what a monocle is, and why there’s a miniature hot air balloon tied to his back.
My uncle lowers his monocle and stares at me, his smiling face shifting suddenly serious, “I’ve seen a dragon.”
I stare in amazement, for what else can I do but be amazed?
“Dragon?” I repeat.
My uncle stands, and scoops me up in his arms, “A most ferocious dragon,” he says! “Most vile and voluptuous indeed!”
My Uncle strides in my house, and it vanishes. The couches turn to mossy hillocks and the walls into vast horizons. He tells me a tale of winged scales and flapping wings. He sings of patchwork canvas and thrashing thickets. He says he survived – but just barely.
I tear off his fake beard and we laugh until my mom takes me away and tells me, “There are no such things as dragons!”
I am four years old.
“My uncle sees dragons,” I say to my best friend at lunch time. The cafeteria is packed, and usually the other kids leave us alone. Most days we eat as fast as we can before running outside to play, but today is different.
I tell my friend, “My uncle visited me yesterday.”
She looks at me with her mouth full of food and I shove my new necklace in her face. “It’s a dragon’s tooth. A REAL dragon’s tooth,” I say haughtily as I swing it in front of her eyes. “Uncle says it keeps whomever holds it safe from all harm!”
I watch her face billow with amazement as I begin to tell her my uncle’s most recent story. She believes in dragons. The kids next to us do not.
“That’s not a dragon’s tooth!” The boy next to me squeals, his friends beginning to laugh.
“Yes it is!” I shout, my voice curling with flames and my teeth slick with venom.
The boy laughs with his friends, and the three of them shout in unison before waddling off outside, “There are no such things as dragons!”
I am twelve years old.
My uncle sees dragons. He hasn’t though, not for a while now. He hasn’t come by with stories since I’ve been back from college. Something about an accident. Mom says we can’t see him, at least not yet. I rub the dragon tooth around my neck, and think back to all of his silly antics.
“Don’t worry,” my mom says over her shoulder as she washes dishes. “The doctors say it’s temporary.”
“Stupid tooth, stupid dragons,” I say as I toss the necklace on the floor, wishing my uncle had never given it away. Not that it matters now. I think old hated words as I stare at the broken tooth and twisted fiber. “There are no such things as dragons.”
I am twenty three years old.
My Uncle sees dragons. He used too anyway. We drive to his new home.
“Home,” I say out the window with resentment as the wind blows my hair over swollen eyes.
My family is silent as we drive to where my uncle stays. My family is silent as we walk to the building and go inside.
My father hears squeaking, rapid and quick, like two metal rails slamming and banging on the tile. We rush to my uncle’s room and toss his door wide. We see him lowering in his chair as he slowly comes back down to a gentle rock.
He looks over at me, and for a brief moment...
I see a match! A flash! An explosion! My heart jumps up and pauses. Our eyes rise to the occasion once more - one last time.
Not even fifteen, ten, or five seconds since he halted his rickety wagon, I know my uncle had just seen a dragon!
My family begins to fill my vision as my uncle turns to face the window. My eyes catch the fading ribbons of a wavy shadow that grace the glass before him. Vanishing as quickly as it had come, I know it will not return.
“Finally,” I say aloud, “There are no such things as dragons.”
I am four years old.