I am waiting for my friends who are “Editing” my first book (this is code for ripping to shreds) so until they are finished I have some time to play before rewrites. This is an idea that I have for a story. I thought perhaps I would put it out there and see what you all think of the basic premise. Feedback would be appreciated.
The Dragon in the Garden
The little girl walked amongst the flowers, lightly touching the plants. This was her way of saying hello as she listened to the birds. Their lively chirps and tweets made her smile. She knew them all well. The child had visited this garden all her life.
She looked over her shoulder at the house behind her. The grownups, Mommy, Grandma and Grandpa, were busy talking in low, serious voices. The little girl could hear the sound of their voices, but she couldn’t hear the words. Her dainty eyebrows came together in a sad frown for a moment as her bottom lip trembled. No one was taking any notice of her.
Her eyes passed over the familiar garden ornaments. She saw an old birdbath. Then, she gazed at the statues of gnomes and the cheerful squirrel. The dark-haired child ran one small hand over the stone deer. Its soft brown paint was fading from years of standing there. She walked with quick, sure steps towards the center of the garden. It was her favorite spot in the yard.
There grew a large, gnarled apricot tree, covered with tiny green apricots. The little girl couldn’t wait until later in the summer when the sweet fruit would be ready to pick. She, Mommy and Daddy would come and help Grandma and Grandpa pick them. Her baby brother would coo from his bouncy seat. He hadn’t been here last year. She wondered if he would be big enough to eat the apricots? She hoped she wouldn’t have to share hers with him.
Under the tree on the nearby patio there hung a hammock. A table and some chairs stood nearby. Hanging from the same tree was her swing. Around the patio were more statues. Grandma sure liked her decorations. Grandpa always complained about them, but then he would bring her home another one just to see her smile at him. Secretly, the little girl didn’t think he was too serious about his complaining.
The pretty mermaid stood near the cute bunnies in the lilacs. The funny looking toadstools and frogs made her giggle when Grandpa first put them into the garden. The little girl liked all the statues, but there was only one she talked to.
It was a small statue. At the foot of the apricot tree there was a bright green dragon curled tightly in a ball. If you didn’t look carefully you might miss it. The little girl liked the pretty green color. Mommy described it as jade green. The child loved when her mother said the little girl’s eyes were exactly the same shade. When Mommy was a child in the garden she’d named the statues and talked to them all. She had called the dragon Jadey, but little girl called the dragon Daisy.
The little girl tripped on the uneven patio stones and fell down, getting her pretty yellow dress dirty. Tears stung her eyes. She knew Mommy wasn’t going to like the stain. The little girl looked over at the house again. Mommy was so unhappy. She was mad all the time and Daddy had been gone on a trip for a long time. Mommy cried a lot, especially late at night. Once the little girl heard Mommy say on the phone that Daddy was in San Diego with a hoe bag. Daddy didn’t even like gardening very much.
The little girl remained sitting where she had fallen. She drew her knees up to her chest and hugged them tightly. Curled up in a ball she began to cry tears of hurt and confusion. The birds fell silent and the only sound in the garden was her lonely weeping.
“Child, why are you sad?” said a woman’s voice.
The little girl wiped her cheek with the back of her hand and looked around to see where the lady could be. The garden seemed empty. The child stood up and looked some more, slowly turning in a circle as she did so. “Who said that?” she asked.
“Where are you?”
“Are not,” retorted the little girl stoutly. The lonely garden stood still and silent except for the child.
A gentle laugh filled the air and the woman spoke gently, “Perhaps you are right at that. Well, easy enough to fix, I suppose.”
A breeze picked up just then, caressing the little girl’s rosy cheeks and ruffling her dark curls. Beneath the apricot tree the space seemed to shimmer and the little girl could see ripples in air like heat over the barbecue when Daddy would cook. Then she heard wind chimes and she turned to find the sound. Grandma and Grandpa didn’t have any wind chimes.
When she looked under the apricot tree again she gasped and stepped back in alarm. Under the tree appeared an enormous green dragon’s head! The little girl’s mouth opened in a silent “O” and she had a hard time breathing.
“Now child,” reassured the woman’s voice. “I won’t hurt you.” The voice came from the dragon’s mouth. Its scales shone in the sun like jewels.
The little girl opened her lips to scream for Mommy, but no sound came out. She started to back away and bumped into the hammock. She froze in fear.
“Tsk, tsk, you’ve gotten your dress dirty. What will your mother say?”
The child gulped, looking down guiltily. She was still scared, but was reassured the dragon didn’t come any closer.
“I don’t eat little girls.” Her huge golden eyes almost seemed to twinkle.
“How did you know what I was thinking?”
“I am a very good guesser. Besides, I know I look very big to you.”
“As big as Daddy’s car,” responded the little girl.
“Oh, I am much bigger than that,” smiled the dragon. “I’m only showing you a bit of me right now. I didn’t want to scare you any more than I already have.”
“Where is the rest of you?”
“All around us.”
“Why aren’t you smooshing everything then?” The child gestured around her. “You know, the plants, the chairs, Grandma’s statues?”
The dragon said, chuckling softly, “That’s a very intelligent question to ask. You are a smart little thing.” The jeweled head tilted a bit to one side. “You would be Siobhan, yes?”
“You said it right! Sha-vauhn!”
“Of course. How else would you say ‘Siobhan’?”
Siobhan waved one hand airily the way she’d seen her mother sometimes do and said in a pseudo, grownup voice, “You’d be amazed. They mess it up all the time. I wish I had a different name like Jenny or Lisa.”
“In the Old Country it means ‘God is gracious’.”
“Yep, that’s what Mommy says, too,” agreed Siobhan glumly. Then her small face brightened. “What’s your name?”
“Gwyrdd ferch Heulen ferch Caden ap Haydn,”
“That’s close enough, very good, Siobhan. I have a few more names, but that’s enough of a mouthful for now. Don’t you agree?”
“Oh yes! Yours is worse than mine!” Then she remembered her manners. “But, um, it’s very pretty.”
“Well, Siobhan, you will collect more names. It comes with getting older,” the dragon seemed to be smiling again. Her head leaned towards Siobhan gracefully. “I have to say, I very much like the name that you gave me.”
Siobhan’s eyes got quite big and her pink mouth formed a silent “O” once more.
“I am Daisy, and to answer your question, I am not smooshing the garden because I am not quite here. Only part of me is here. What year is it?”
“It’s 1987, Daisy.”
The dragon stirred restlessly. “It’s too early, child. I should not be here yet.”
“I could start a war that we’re not ready for yet by being here.” Daisy seemed worried.
“A war? Is that why you pretend to be a statue?”
“I don’t pretend to be a statue. Part of me is a statue,” smiled Daisy, only now her teeth didn’t scare Siobhan. “We are waiting for the right time to return.”
Siobhan frowned, folding her little arms petulantly. “Statues don’t talk, Daisy.”
“No, you are right. Statues don’t talk. But I am not just a statue. I’m…” Daisy hesitated. “Well, I’m magic. I hide by being a statue. At least until it’s time to come back.”
The little girl continued to frown, her arms still crossed fiercely. The dragon’s head drew back, regarding her fondly. “Have you ever had a friend,” asked Daisy, “A friend who misbehaved and then they needed to take a break?”
Siobhan nodded solemnly. “Danny hit Carter. They are friends, but they both wanted the bike and they wouldn’t take turns. Miss Sarah had to tell them to go sit down and have a time out.”
“Well, Miss Sarah was right,” nodded the dragon. “My friends and I have been fighting over something and we needed a time out before we destroyed it. So, I cannot be here. Not until the Prophecy calls me back.”
“Will you get into trouble?”
“No, dear one, I won’t get into trouble. But I might not be able to stay long and I might leave very suddenly. When I do, I want you to know you didn’t do anything wrong. The reasons that I cannot stay have nothing to do with you.”
“Are all statues dragons in hiding?”
The head slowly moved back and forth in negation, “No, not all statues are in hiding, but any statue might be. Wherever we left this world we left behind a representation like my sleeping figure here. You should know, Siobhan, we aren’t all dragons.”
“Are the dragons the good guys?” asked Siobhan softly, scooting closer to Daisy and laying one little hand on her nose.
Daisy snorted gently, tickling the little girl’s hand as Siobhan giggled in delight. “Yes, dear one, I think we are the good guys.”
“But, if you come back now it would be bad?”
“Yes, my dear. It would be very bad indeed,” Daisy sighed and looked at the forlorn small face before her. “Please know that in thousands of years I’ve only come back once and that was because you needed me today. You are special. You called a dragon.”
“I always knew you were real,” smiled Siobhan smugly.
“You’re the only statue I named,” answered the child, shaking her dark curls. “Nobody fools me.”
The breeze picked up again and Daisy lifted her head. She seemed to be smelling something on the wind. The dragon sighed, bowing her shining head. She looked at the little girl. “Siobhan, my dear, I’m afraid it’s time for me to leave or bad things will happen. Will you be okay?”
Siobhan looked towards the house sadly, “My daddy’s not coming back, is he?”
The jeweled head nudged her ever so gently. “No, dear one, he is not coming back to your mother although he will be back to visit you and your brother. Beyond that I cannot see.”
Siobhan sighed. “I’ll be extra good for Mommy. Daisy, will I ever see you again?”
The golden eyes twinkled and Daisy promised, “Yes, I believe you will.” The dragon pulled her head back a bit to regard Siobhan. “And please, don’t stop talking to me. I’ve enjoyed your stories.”
The air began to shimmer and shine again. Siobhan tried very hard to watch, but at the last instant a bird called very close by and she turned her head. When she looked back at the apricot tree there was a slight shimmer to the air and a small dragon statue. Siobhan had a sudden thought and ran to the statue. “But, Daisy, my Daisy, who are the bad guys?”
A whispered voice floated on the breeze. Siobhan had to bend closer to the statue to hear. As she headed back to the house her green eyes were narrowed in thought.
My name is Siobhan Isabella Orsini and this is my story. It would be twenty-five years before I saw my dragon again.