I sat down to write, and a dragon flew out.
Cybil wakes up to scales and feathers bouncing from one side of her brain to another. She taps it, shakes, and just when she feels something sharp – is it a beak? – burrow out of her ear, Cybil whacks her hears with such force that whatever creature is in there surely fell unconscious.
Ah. Maybe Cybil can sneak some more snooze.
She dreams of worlds never seen, either on a Google search or in national Geographic centerfolds. She dreams of rivers that run so deep they appear purple, of orange trees and flying through clouds. She never dreams of flying and finds it hard to comprehend.
The birds flying near are much smaller than normal birds – non-dreaming, non-flying birds. They don’t appear afraid of a human girl flying along with them. Perhaps in this world of striped birds and red mountaintops, 30-ish writers fly alongside birds every day.
A jolt! of pain hits her, smashes against the inside of Cybil’s head.
A jolt! now behind the eyes, which may pop out if they feel another hit. She wonders how she could fly without her eyes, so far from any land. How would she even know where she is?
Another hit! Cybil never expected to feel the nerves behind her eyes, and is quite certain she doesn’t like the sensation.
If she’ll need any help, she better ask now, before the dream runs too far away beyond her bed and can’t find its way back.
Cybil’s heard spook stories of other writers, other dreamers who venture too far. Her eyes connect her back to her home. She only needs to open them.
Slam! She cannot lose the eyes – surely she’ll never go back.
“Excuse me?” a meeker, darker voice than her own tries to speak to the birds around her.
She is surprised but more concerned about her eyes than her voice. At this moment, anyway.
“Excuse me! Please. Please help!”
The birds just look at Cybil, confused, then turn back to their route. She can’t really blame them. She read somewhere on a migration mania that talk about how fatal it is for birds to fall behind in migration. They need their focus as much as she needs her eyes: to get back home.
“I’m ever so sorry,” Cybil speaks again, a little louder. She still can’t believe that is her voice. What is it?
Honestly, her eyes are stronger than she first imagined. But Cybil really interested in hedging that bet.
“Please! I’m sorry, but in the event that I lose my eyes, could someone – just one – of your flock – could you please guide me to land?”
She only sees more confused faces. Cybil silently acknowledges her feelings in case she ever wakes up to write another story: this must be how a homeless person feels. Or a teenager who cries out for help but isn’t ever heard. One bird keeps her stare and yells to Cybil –
“but once you get to land, how can you make it home?”
“I don’t know, to tell you the truth,” Cybil answers.
She falls behind the flock. With that last jolt, Cybil coughs and feathers fly out of her mouth. The one kind samaritan bird falls out of rank as well, goes to Cybil’s side.
Guilt overwhelms Cybil until the bird quietly whispers: “Don’t worry. I’ll get there. The best thing you can do –” and here the bird points downward – “is fall into the water. Then you can wake. Then you keep your eyes.”
“How do you know?” The pain so overcomes her that she isn’t even thinking of the logic of the situation — birds can’t talk, the air reeks of calilily and lavender, this one bird knows more about her situation than Cybil does, and this is her dream, after all —
“I’ll go with you. Don’t worry about me. But trust me – crash into the water. My feeling is this creature just needs to get out of your head –”
“Creature?” Cybil can hardly contain the pain now. Crashes are more consistent, slamming harder and harder and harder and barely holding on —
The bird grabs onto her ears like rudders. “Now!”
And Cybil careens into the now yellow ocean water like she’s flown her whole life —
The water rises in dance as she jolts up i bed. Checks her eyes. Her large dog watches her, always cautious when Cybil dreams.
Yes. All is well. Another journey ends at home.
Careful not to disturb her sleeping husband, Cybil quietly slips out of bed. She moves to the corner closet-converted-to-home-office. She opens her laptop, waits for it to take too long because she’s installed one too many useless programs on it.
Now, hopefully, she gives this creature residing in her brain what it wants:
There was, one day long ago, far away and tomorrow: a dragon.