I made a deal with my niece that I would write a book about dragons and she could illustrate it if she would bring up her grades in school. She held up her end of the bargain. That means that I’m writing a short novel for 10-14 year olds about dragons. It’s a dark story, but Alyssa’s a dark kid. She decided to be Vampire Snow White when she was four because she decided Snow White must be a vampire since she rose from the dead. I am not a natural novelist. My screenwriter brain keeps telling me that I’m saying too much. This is a good exercise for me and it gives her the chance to practice something she loves over the summer. As an added bonus, I get to write a fantasy book where black children are the protagonists. Here’s a bit of my choppy writing.
Aisha and Malcolm McCallister were perfectly normal children who lived in a perfectly normal house and had perfectly normal parents. These were the lies they were told from a very early age. Normalcy and the McCallisters did not even exist in the same universe. The McCallister twins were many things. Most of all they were the ones who survived. That is what brings us to this moment. Aisha and Malcolm standing in a cemetery on their fourteenth birthday watching as their mother, father, and grandmother are lowered into the ground in matching caskets. Malcolm begins to weep and Aisha hands him a handkerchief. She does not cry. Crying would do her no good now. She’s much better at being angry.
Aisha and Malcolm were in the car when it rammed into a tree. Their father got them out of the car first before going back for the older members of the family. All three were burned alive when the care exploded. Aisha and Malcolm could only watch. They were trying to get their parents to tell them about their birthday party moments before the accident. This is obviously not what they pictured.
Kenneth, their twenty-five-year-old uncle and new guardian, places a hand on Malcolm’s shoulder. Aisha likes Kenneth, but he is a 25-year-old club DJ. He is hardly parent material. She feels guilty for thinking that, but it is the truth. He probably uses Molly on the weekends and the most important thing on his brain is deciding when the beat will drop. Kenneth motions for them to move and they return to the limo parked near the grave. The large group of people also being to leave. Kenneth sits next to Malcolm. Aisha’s hair is frizzy from the light rain. She pulls the curly hair up and secures it with an elastic band.
Kenneth begins scrolling through his phone. Aisha looks him over. He nervously speaks, “So, I was thinking that I should go ahead and bring my stuff down from New York. It’s easier. You guys can come with me. I just need to get everything with the movers. There’s not much. If you want to go, we can leave tomorrow afternoon and come back in a few days.”
Malcolm is still sobbing, but nods. Kenneth places a reassuring hand on his shoulder. Aisha shrugs. Kenneth nods in agreement.
The McCallister mansion seems so much bigger without a room full of people bustling around. Kenneth checks to make sure the children are asleep before walking down to the kitchen. It felt like a prison when he first left. Now he longs for his mother’s nagging and his brother being annoying perfectly. He puts water in a kettle and places it on the stove. He touches the tap, but pulls his hand away before turning it on. He runs his hands through the short dreadlocks he recently started growing. He tentatively rubs his fingers together. He sees the spark he has not witnessed since he left Moonvale, Georgia for New York. He flicks his fingers and watches as the flame on the stove lights up. He looks up the stairs to where his niece and nephew sleep. If he has the fire back, he knows that he won’t be the only one.
Kenneth stills. He leans near the stove and lets out a soft breath. Barely visible ice crystals flow from his breath and freeze the flame. Kenneth groans and finally turns on the tap. The frozen flame melt causing steam to rise from the stove and it takes a moment for the flame to catch up. Kenneth looks towards the door. He closes his eyes as the familiar sound of the drums hit him. They have always been with him, but the rhythm has been more persistent since his family’s death.
Kenneth exits the house. The cool breeze from the Georgia mountains hit him as he exits. He walks deeper into the dense woods that surround his family’s property. As he walks, he snaps his fingers to create a small flame. He marvels at each one as he passes. His face a mixture of excitement and worry.
The edge of the forest contains a clearing. The grass is green despite the bits of snow surrounding the edge of the forest. A stone archway sits in the center of the clearing. The name McCallister is sprawled across the top and small dragons decorate the piece. Kenneth takes in a heavy breath before walking to the archway. He once again makes fire with his fingertips. The flame continues to grow into a perfectly shaped ball of hot blue fire. Kenneth lets out a light breath of air towards the fire ball and it floats to a hole in one side of the archway. Kenneth braces himself. The ground beneath him shakes. A hole appears beneath the archway and Kenneth quickly plunges into it.
Kenneth’s feels the sensation of his body plunging. His eyes grow wide and his arms flail around, but when he lands on the granite floor he appears as if he just walked from one room into another. He wiggles his body a bit. He remembers the sensation a bit differently the last time he entered the cavern. He looks around. He is in a large stone cave. The dragons from the archway are present down here.
He walks over to a wall covered in images of dragons. Some of the carvings have withered away. The detail in the stone has obviously aged with time, but two appear to be brand new. One is much larger than the other. It hangs like a guardian over the others. Its eyes are wide. Kenneth makes a fireball as he had done before, but this one is much larger than the one he made at the archway. He takes his hand and flicks it toward the stone carving of the newer, larger dragon. The room begins to shake. Kenneth takes a seat at the massive round stone table to brace himself.
The granite carving begins to slowly emerge from the wall. As it pulls free it begins to turn a bright red. The dragon expands its wings when his entire body eventually pulls away from the wall. It turns to Kenneth and huffs. Kenneth slowly stands and backs away. The dragon then breaths a large trail of fire at Kenneth. What must be an invisible barrier stops the flames from reaching Kenneth, but he still pulls his head away. The dragon stands. Kenneth straightens his shirt and stares it in the eye.
He sighs. “Good to see you too, Mom.”
© Yvonne McDowell 2016