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I Brought My Dragon to Show and Tell

An author, editor, and recovering journalist, David J. Rank's more than 30 short stories and flash fiction pieces have been published in regional literary publications, several online ezines, and the print anthologies Call of the Wyld, published by Wyldwood Press, The Grays, published by JWK Fiction, Wisconsin Review II, published by the WWA Press, and Shallow Waters 4, an online anthology series published by Crystal Lake Publishing. He is founder and director of the annual nonprofit Novel-In-Progress Bookcamp & Retreat residential writing programs now in their eighth year.

His unpublished Science Fiction-Mystery novel Alien Ways was selected as a semifinalist in the 2019 Screencraft Cinematic Book Competition, finishing in the top 10 percent of entries, both published and unpublished. He is now working on a horror novel, a Gothic romance novel, the plots for two Alien Ways sequels, and several short stories.

I brought my dragon to Show and Tell this morning. Smoke's just a little one, the kind that roasts bugs to eat. It's easy to feed him. I catch blind crickets and spiders and centipedes that live by the pool at the back of our cavern. Sometimes Dad likes to use Smoke to light his cigars to show off at parties. People laugh. I wanted Smoke to do that for Show and Tell but Mom wouldn't let me. She said it was not appropriate.
Anyway, Smoke wore the cute pink muzzle I made for him. I trained him good so Mrs. Williams let me fly him to the wall lanterns and back to the padded perch on my shoulder Mom made.
Everyone in class oohed and aahed at his flying tricks. Except Tommy. Tommy hates dragons because he has scars and his burned uncle. But Smoke isn't anything like that. He's too tiny and cute. So Mrs. Williams told Tommy he could go to the library for the rest of Show and Tell. I was glad he left. He made too much noise and scared Smoke.
For my report, I talked about all the different kinds of dragons that live in the world today. After the Genes went crazy, Dad says. There are the cute little ones like Smoke, bigger ones that ate all the birds, and bigger ones still that scared off the rest of the animals into the mountains or deep into jungles.
Mrs. Williams stopped me then. "Thank you, Amy, for that wonderful report," she said before I could talk about the really big dragons, the ones all the people hide from in our cavern. But I guess the class already knows about them.
Still, I so wanted to ask Mrs. Williams who those Gene people were and why they all went crazy about dragons. Dad never answers and Mom won't let me talk about it at all.
It was so disappointing Mrs. Williams stopped me before I could finish my report. I worked so hard researching and writing it. I wanted to tell the class all the interesting stuff on the big dragons I looked up.
Sometimes at parties, people say the tech company should never have invented dragons to sell in the first place. I don't like to hear that, though. Because then I'd never have gotten Smoke. And that would make me very sad.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, June 30th, 2021

Author Comments

Blame James Cameron's Avatar movie for this story. I loved the movie, however, it bothered me from first viewing that the sapient humanoid Na'vi species on the moon Pandora had four limbs when every other critter had six. That didn't make evolutionary sense to me. If there was one quadruped species there should be others. I would have been satisfied if Cameron had a single four-limbed squirrel-thing scampering around in the background jungle hinting that the Na'vi had evolutionary cousins.

What does that have to do with "I Brought My Dragon to Show and Tell"? I've always loved dragons, especially reading stories that portrayed them in a realistic fashion. Applying the Na'vi paradox, it always bothered me dragons also were portrayed as a species alone. Why weren't there all sorts of dragons, big ones, little ones, all sizes, like birds? Then I wondered what a world would look like populated by an assortment of dragons filling every ecological niche possible. That led me to "I Brought My Dragon to Show and Tell." Enjoy.

- David J. Rank
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