Every day, at the same time, I hear the high-pitched squeals of joy combined with raucous laughter. I smile to myself. I glide over to the window, relaxing my mind and soul as I peer down at the children in the schoolyard. I look forward to recess.
Yesterday, while I was cooking, I heard those daily squeals and laughter. I started to relax with the sounds. Just as suddenly, worry filled my mind. This was not the right time of day to hear this. I turned off the stove and went to the window. Not a single child could be found in the playground. Not a single adult, either. The sounds continued. The more I listened, the more relaxed I became. I shook myself out of the trance. Something was wrong.
I went outside, buttoning my coat as I walked. I looked all around the school. I looked all around the apartment block. The farther I went away from my apartment, the more the happy sounds diminished. I came back towards home. The joy, the laughter, the squeals, the squawks all vanished. No one was outside. Nothing was outside. No sound filled the air, except for my own breathing.
I went back to my cooking. Just as the food was ready, I heard the high-pitched squeals, the laughter, the child-like reeling voices. I put down my plate and walked slowly about my apartment.
The linens in my bedroom had been tossed about along with my pillows, as if a pillow fight had been played here not long ago. The clothes were not in their drawers or in the closet. Everything was everywhere. The books from my bookshelf were strewn about the floor. Some of the books were left open, waiting for me to read their content. Each one of these books had been opened to pages with italics. There was no exception. And the laughter grew louder and crazier.
I followed the sound and found it in the kitchen. My dinner! The whole thing! Completely devoured! And sitting at the table, sitting around the table, sat four creatures. I wanted to scream, but found I couldn’t. Their lizard-like faces with little beards on their chins made me want to giggle, but I couldn’t.
Facing the creatures, I walked backwards to my bedroom. I shut the door and dragged my dresser in front of it, hoping nothing could pass through. I rushed to pick up the open books, careful not to close a single one. What was on those pages?
Italicized passage by italicized passage I read every open book. Nothing meant anything out of context. Something of these pages had to mean something to those creatures in my kitchen. I started over. I tried reading one italicized sentence of each open book. Still no logic, no meaning. I did the same, reordering the books. I tried various combinations.
Finally, I came upon the magic formula. The italicized text had been indented slightly and formed parts of poems. I took each open book in alphabetical order by author’s last name. From the first book, I took the first letter of the first line of the verse. From the second book, I took the second letter of the second line of the verse. I continued like this until I reached the last book. Then I started over with the first book, taking the second letter of the first line of the verse and the third letter of the second line of the verse in the second book. I continued this painstaking task until there were no more letters to gather.
I took a deep breath. These books had been opened deliberately after all. The message was clear. The creatures in my kitchen were dragonlings, dragon children. They were on a migratory path with their parents. The dragonlings were attracted by certain sounds; without even the tiniest whistle of wind or rustle of wing, they darted towards these sounds, completely intrigued, enthralled, and captivated. They had perched upon a long, flat, wire bush and watched the creatures that made the wondrous sounds. They watched them skirt around each other. They listened to the same joy-evoked screeches the dragonlings enjoyed on their first flight. The dragonlings watched and listened until a bell rang and all the little creatures entered a most peculiar-looking cave. With nothing more to watch, nothing more to listen to, they flew up to the skies only to notice their parents were long gone.
It was then they remembered their parents saying the migratory path was a dangerous one and they would have to stay close to each other. If one were felled, they would not be able to return in fear of endangering the entire dragon community. Thus was the reality after eons of humans felling dragons from the sky for no apparent reason other than sickly sportsmanship. The dragonlings had not listened and, most likely, their parents must have presumed them felled from the skies. There was no chance they would return.
Not knowing what else to do, the dragonlings decided to return to the wire bush. Perched there, they breathed in the air. This would allow them to locate help, their parents had once told them. They closed their eyes and breathed in a scent unknown to them, but one that reminded them of the elders cooking a feast. They decided to follow that scent. They followed it into my apartment as walls opened up in front of them, all the while hoping against all hope that some creature within would be able to help them relocate their families.
I sat upon my bed. The dragonlings in my kitchen were looking to me for help. How could I deny them this, them being so young of age, me having already lived a long and bountiful life?
I looked up from all the papers and books. The dragonlings sat upon my dresser. How they had passed through the door, I could not tell, but there they sat, eyes pleading as they held their tails in their chubby, front claws. I could not resist.
So, in case anyone should enter my apartment, my home, and question whether or not I have been abducted and whether there had been some type of struggle, the answer to both is no. I have gone to help four dragonlings find their families for I cannot bear the thought of creatures so young being left alone to fend for themselves in a world that often does not believe that dragons still exist.
Witness: Mary Ayudamos