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I am the middle child in my family. I have two younger brothers who are twins and always in need of attention from my mom. On the other side of me, I have two older teenage sisters who are also twins. They do everything together and are always with their friends. What they say about middle children is true. We get overlooked. Especially, when we’re between two sets of twins. Fortunately for me, none of my family was home when I walked into my garage and found the dragon.
I froze mid-step. Where my parents’ cars usually park was a green, scaly dragon asleep on the concrete floor. His chest rose and fell with each breath. His long tail curled around himself, raising up and down every few seconds.
Was I dreaming? This can’t be real, I thought. I thought I was imagining it just like the clouds I saw minutes earlier. I inspected it further from where I stood. I could see its fingers. One hand had three fingers and the others four—just like my drawing. That’s weird, I thought. I shook my head to try and snap out of it, but I could still see the green beast lying there. I should stop eating so many PB&J sandwiches, I thought. The basketball was right by the door. I picked it up, turned the light off and slipped back inside the house. I didn’t dare look in there again.
Then, I heard a knock at the front door. I jumped at the sound and almost dropped the basketball. I opened the door and saw Ricardo standing there.
“Ready?” Ricardo asked and noticed my frightened face. “Are you okay, Drake?”
I shook off the fear and stepped outside. “I’m fine. Let’s play.” We walked out to my driveway where my basketball hoop was.
I tried to forget what I saw in my garage. It couldn’t have been real. Where would a dragon have come from? Are they even real? I tried to forget, but questions kept popping into my head.
Ricardo passed me the ball, but I was too distracted by what I thought I saw in the garage that I let the ball bounce right past me. I ran over to retrieve it and lobbed it at the hoop. It missed the hoop entirely and BANG!—the ball smashed against the garage door. A second later a crashing noise came from inside.
“What was that?!” Ricardo asked.
Fright came rushing back to me and I immediately knew it was true. I had a dragon taking a nap in my garage. Or rather, it was taking a nap until I woke it up.
Ricardo went rushing into the house.
“Wait!” I shouted. “Ric, don’t go in there!”
I tried running past him to stop him from going into the garage, but no one is faster than Ricardo. He turned the knob, flung the door open, and flipped on the light. My fears came true. The dragon now stood with his back to us and his head pushing against the ceiling.
“Shhh,” I said and pulled Ricardo back.
Ricardo froze and said nothing. He stared up at the dragon. Then I noticed the dragon’s wings. One was smaller than the other—just like my drawing.
“Where did it come from?” Ricardo whispered.
“I don’t know, but my mom will be coming home any minute now. We gotta get rid of him.”
At that moment, the dragon turned its head around and looked at me. He locked eyes with mine and we weren’t sure what he would do next. He turned his whole body around toward me and bowed his head.
I turned to Ricardo. “I don’t think he’ll hurt us. I mean the dragons in the movies aren’t this polite.” Then turning to the dragon I said in a soft voice, “You’re a nice dragon, right? Where did you come from, boy? You are a boy, right?” I only assumed he was a boy because when I drew the dragon earlier, I thought of it as a male dragon.
The dragon lifted his head up and looked to be smiling at me. His tail wagged like a dog’s. His whole body started wagging until he jumped up and THUD!—he crashed his head on the ceiling.
“Drake?” Ricardo’s voice cracked.
“We need a place to hide him. He can’t stay in here,” I said.
“I got it!” Ricardo’s face lit up. “We can put him in that big shed in the back corner of my yard. There’s plenty of space in there since Dad sold the boat.”
“Your dad sold your boat? Why?” I asked. Ricardo’s family is always buying and selling stuff.
“He’s using the money toward buying a bigger one.”
“Of course. Anyway, not important. That will work for now. We just have to get him to your house with no one seeing him.”
“We’ll go over the fences. We just have to get through two yards before getting to mine,” Ricardo said.
“Okay, buddy,” I said to the dragon. “We need to move you, okay? You’re not safe here. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
To our surprise, the dragon nodded yes.
“Ok then. Ric, hit the garage door button.”
Ricardo pushed the button. The garage door started to open making the world’s loudest noise. The commotion spooked the dragon and he flapped his wings and made a screeching noise. His wings knocked over a shelf, spilling worn out basketballs, baseball mitts, and other sports equipment across the floor while the door nearly flew off its track as it went up.
I tried to calm him down. “It’s okay buddy, it’s okay, shhhh.”
He calmed down and the door finished opening. Ricardo ran out to the driveway and looked around for anyone who might see us.
“No one in sight,” he reported, surprised at our luck.
“Okay, buddy, nice and slow.” I creeped out the garage and the dragon followed close behind. So close it made me nervous he might step on me with his claws. We made our way to my back yard.
We stood at the fence between us and my neighbor’s yard. Ricardo and I had taken this route to and from our houses countless times. All the trees that sat along the fence lines hid us from view making it the perfect shortcut. Ricardo peeked over the fence. “No one in the yard,” he reported. He tried looking into the windows. “I don’t think they’re home.”
Ricardo jumped the fence first, then I did. “Okay, buddy, step over the fence.”
Buddy started to gracefully lift one leg over the fence. On his attempt to get the second leg over he accidentally kicked the top of the fence with his foot. A few of the boards snapped. The dragon fumbled the rest of the way over, knocking one of the trees with his tail. Leaves came falling down on us from the impact.
The dragon gave an embarrassed expression. “No problem. Just two more fences,” I said. We crept our way between the neighbor’s trees and got to the next fence. Ricardo peeked over the fence. “Clear,” he reported. We each took our turn over the fence. Luckily, the dragon had no issues this time.
Ricardo lived just behind the yard we were in. “My backyard is just over this fence. Let’s go,” Ricardo said and hopped over.
The dragon got distracted by a bee flying around his head. Before he could get his tiny arms to shoo the thing away, the bee flew up his nose. He tried shaking his head, but like a feather tickling a nose, there’s nothing you can do but—ACHOOOO! The dragon let out an enormous sneeze and a blazing ball of fire hit the fence in front of us. The force of the sneeze and ball of fire knocked a portion of the fence over into Ricardo’s yard. Small flames singed the edges of the fence still standing.
“Yikes!” Ricardo and I both shouted. Immediately, Ricardo ran over to his garden hose, turned on the water, and dragged the hose over to the fence to distinguish the flames.
The dragon was rubbing his nostrils with his bigger wing. “Wow. Bless you,” I said in amazement.
Ricardo had the fire out and the dragon and I walked through the opening in the fence. “Your parents are gonna freak,” I said.
Ricardo, in his usual cool, calm, and collective attitude responded, “It will be fine. I’ll think of something.”
We walked over to Ricardo’s shed. It was plenty big for a dragon to stay in. More the size of a barn than a shed as Ricardo called it, but Ricardo was always humble about making things not sound too fancy. It had a garage door that Ricardo opened for us. We got inside and closed the door. “This will work. Thanks, Ric.”
The dragon found a spot and then walked in a circle three times before lying down like I’ve seen cats and dogs do. He looked content there.
I leaned against a workbench that had tools and broken down appliances waiting to be fixed. I gazed at the dragon. “Ric, I can’t believe this is really happening. The crazy thing is, I had just drawn this exact dragon in English class today.”
“You sure no one will come in?” I asked.
Ricardo reassured me no one ever came in there. His brothers and sisters were always too busy with their sports and activities. His mom was always busy with club memberships, shopping, and driving his siblings around. His dad was always working on the computer.
“I better get home and make sure the garage is clean before my mom goes in there,” I said.
“I’ll check on him tonight and in the morning,” said Ricardo.
We gently closed the door to the shed as the dragon fell back asleep.
That night in my room, I pulled my drawing pad out from my backpack and flipped to the page with the dragon. Aside from the drawing being in pencil and not colored, it looked like the dragon hiding at Ricardo’s.
All that night and the next day at school, I thought about the dragon. How could it look like my drawing? Where did it come from? Was it magic?
The next morning, in First Period, Ricardo said he peeked in the window of the shed before going to school and saw the dragon was still sleeping.
“Why does it sleep so much?” he asked.
“I have no idea.”
“Anyway,” Ricardo continued, “I have baseball practice right after school today, so you’ll have to check on the dragon yourself. The shed’s not locked.”
After school, I went straight over to Ricardo’s. His family was so used to me being around, they were never surprised to see me wandering around or inviting myself in. I got to the side door of the shed. It creaked as I opened it. I looked in but didn’t see the dragon where we left him. I started to panic. I walked to the empty space on the floor. I turned around and in front of my face was the dragon smiling at me. His body was in the dark corner of the garage while he stretched his neck out down toward me.
“Oh there you are, buddy,” I said. “You had me worried for a second there.”
He stepped all the way out of the dark and started to pace around in the little room he had available. I took a seat on a rusty stool in front of the work bench.
“You need a name,” I told the dragon.
The dragon discovered a basketball lying next to him and started pushing it around with his long green snout. “You want to play with the ball, buddy?” I asked while I hopped off the stool and walked over to him. “Wait. That’s it! I’ll call you Buddy. Buddy the dragon.”
I picked up the basketball and tossed it toward him, not really sure what to expect from a dragon. He caught the ball on his snout above his nostrils. Then he started nodding his head up and down bouncing the ball on his snout until the ball lost balance, fell off, and rolled under a shelf.
Buddy reached for the ball, knocking over a bucket of gardening tools in the process. Not the most graceful dragon. Then giving up on the ball, Buddy grabbed the garage door handle with his tail. He yanked his tail up and the garage door slid open. A burst of sunlight filled the shed. Buddy stepped out, spread his wings, and stretched his arms.
“Buddy, what are you doing? You’re going to be seen!” I ran over to him. Then, his tail wrapped around my waist and dropped me on his back. Before I could tell what happened Buddy flapped his wings and leaped into the air.
“Buddy, what are you doing?!” I held on to his back as tight as I could.
We got higher and higher. The smaller wing didn’t seem to affect his flying ability. As we evened out I started to relax. I ran my fingers along the scales of his back. The greens and purples of the scales shimmered in the sunlight like nothing I had seen before.
I looked down and saw my neighborhood. The houses looked so small and identical to each other. All around us I could see the horizon in the distance. On our left was the ocean and I could see a bed of clouds settling along the shoreline. On our right was San Francisco Bay and beyond that was the Oakland area. In front of us I could see the skyline. It was all so beautiful. Whenever I see something beautiful like this, I want to draw a picture of it. Now wasn’t the time though.
We were getting further from my house and I was afraid of being seen. Down below I saw an empty field surrounded by trees. “Buddy, down there!” I pointed to the field. “Land down there!”
Buddy nose-dived toward the field and then touched down on the ground. I jumped off. “That was incredible! Terrifying but incredible!”
And then it became clear to me. Buddy existed because I drew him. My drawing came to life! It really happened. For some reason when I drew that dragon, it became real. “Buddy! I drew you to life! This is awesome!”
Buddy jumped for joy and whacked his tail against the ground. Then I had another realization. Could I do it again? Could I make another drawing come to life? I was still wearing my backpack from school. I swung it off and pulled out my drawing pad. I flipped to a blank page and stared at it. Tapping my pencil against the spiral binding, as I often did when suffering from artist’s block, I thought about what to try next.
“Buddy, you need a place to stay.” I started drawing rock formations on the page. They formed an archway. Around the arch, I drew more rocks, dirt, and bushes. I shaded inside the archway to resemble the depth of a cave. Buddy bent his head down looking over my shoulder looking curiously at the drawing.
“There you go, Buddy. Your very own cave to sleep in.” I turned around in every direction, but still, no cave appeared. I thought by drawing the cave it would appear in real life. I dropped to the ground and tossed my drawing pad onto my backpack.
“I thought it would work.” Then I started to worry. “Oh, no! What if what I draw only appears in my garage like you did, Buddy? If that’s true, then a cave just took over my garage!”
At that moment, I felt a rumbling from the ground. The ground behind me made a deep crunching noise. I turned around to see the ground swelling up. Rock formations started shooting up from the dirt. Moments later, a cave was before us, like the one in my drawing.
“Yes! Buddy! It worked!” We both danced around for a second. “I can’t believe this. I have a superpower!”
Buddy walked over to the cave. He peeked inside. “Go ahead, Buddy,” I assured him. “It’s all yours.”
Buddy smiled, walked in and found a spot to lie down. “Ok Buddy, I got to get back home. Now, you stay here, and I’ll check on you tomorrow, okay?” He nodded yes.
I picked up my drawing pad, compared the drawing to the real cave and smiled. “Wow. Amazing.” I closed the drawing pad and put it in my backpack. I waved goodbye to Buddy and ran off back to my house.
A few blocks from my house, a girl with long black hair about my age was riding her bike on the other side of the street. I had never seen her before. I could feel her staring at me the whole time I was on that street. Not thinking much of it, I continued on my way.