Young Dragons, Like Young People
I spent my life wondering what it is like to be on the ocean. I spent years standing on beaches overlooking endless waves that threatened to swallow me whole if I came too close. I spent too much time just thinking about it all.
That changed this summer. I stood on the beach, looking out over the ocean. Kayaks were lined up on the beach. Life jackets and paddles were on a rack just a few steps behind me. I looked around. The beach was quiet; no one was outside.
Should I wait for someone to show up? Should I wait until someone would want to come along with me? I’ve lost out on so many chances, so many opportunities all my life just from waiting.
I put on a life jacket and grabbed a paddle. I walked down the beach towards the kayaks. I picked a small, blue one.
The kayak rocked back and forth. I paddled out, away from the cookie dough beach. The gentle waves lifted me up slightly and put me back down carefully. The warm breeze lit upon me. The sun shone down without scorching. I never felt so relaxed in all my life.
Suddenly, a wave came towards me. It was not like the other ones. I had to lift my head and raise my eyes to see its crest. Fear overcame me. I surely would be crushed if I continued this path. Maybe if I turned the kayak around and headed back towards the beach I’d be able to outrun it, get out of its way.
I paddled as fast as I could. I looked behind me. The giant wave was coming right for me.
While I looked behind me, my kayak started to rise higher and higher. I looked in front of me. The waves in front were so small. Why was I going up so high all of a sudden? The giant wave was still behind me.
My kayak stopped rising. It started to turn. No matter what I did with my paddle, I could not get the kayak to turn towards the beach. It kept turning towards the giant wave. It was as if the kayak wanted me to see the enormity of that one wave.
As my kayak came close to the giant wave, I took a deep breath, held it, and closed my eyes. I felt myself go higher and higher and higher. Then, I stopped moving.
I opened my eyes. I was well above the ocean, dangling on the tip of the giant wave in my kayak.
Without warning, the kayak tipped forward. Like a roller coaster, I went down the back of the giant wave. I screamed as I plummeted to what I was sure was my watering death.
The kayak came down the back side of the wave and floated quietly along the top of the cold ocean. The water was calm. The few waves gently rocked the kayak back and forth.
The sun smiled down on me. Behind me, the sky was filled with ferocious clouds that picked water up from the ocean and threw it at the beaches in rages. But there were no giant waves.
An eerie silence surrounded me. I wished I hadn’t gone out alone. I wished I had just waited for someone, anyone, even if it had meant that I would never have gone out on the ocean in my entire life.
Slowly, I took my paddle. I turned towards the beach. I paddled and paddled. I moved a little bit and then was dragged back. I paddled more. Again I moved forward only a tiny bit before I was dragged back to where I started.
Was I stuck on something? I pulled my paddle into the kayak. I looked in the water. I couldn’t see anything, not even small fish.
I took my paddle and slid it under the kayak. Maybe with the paddle I would be able to feel what was holding me from underneath. Slowly, I ran it under the kayak, along its length.
Directly under me, I felt the paddle hit something. It didn’t feel hard, but it did hit something. I know it did. The kayak started to move further when I touched that thing with my paddle. I jerked the paddle out from under so I could paddle away.
The warm breeze became a forceful wind behind my back while I sped away in one direction. I looked back for just a second. It made no sense. I couldn’t have seen right. I wanted to look back again, but I already was facing forward, paralysed.
I stopped paddling as I realized I was about to crash into a scaly, silver, gold, and pink blob of flesh that flashed its different colours.
I closed my eyes. The kayak stopped moving. What happened? Then it started to go up and up and up. The kayak turned on itself halfway.
I opened my eyes. Hot air breathed down on me. A smile crept across the face of the creature. Thousands of sparkling gold teeth showed themselves within the dripping wet darkness of its mouth.
Looking to the sides of the kayak, I knew I was not touching the ocean any more. Three green fingers with ivory claws held one side of the kayak; two more held the other side. It turned the kayak round halfway and round halfway back. It brought me closer to its face.
I was right beside its opulent eye that grew wider as it inspected me. It held me steady. Next thing I knew, I was studying the creature’s eye as much as it was studying my kayak and me. It had so many colours, all in stripes that widened and shrunk as it looked at me.
Suddenly, the kayak was covered in something completely see-through. I could still breathe, but I couldn’t get out. The green paw covered me completely while I went down, down, down. I crashed through the water along with the creature.
We went down for a bit. Then it stopped and slowed its descent. Eventually, the creature put me down. It swam away.
In its distance, I realized this sea creature was special. It wasn’t just because of its magnificent colours that flashed. It was its shape. Long, spindly, yet as thick as any whale, it glided like a snake. This was a water dragon, like the ones I heard about when I was little.
After awhile, the water dragon came back with another one just like it. They floated in front of me. The other dragon was larger. It opened its mouth and blew flames at the smaller dragon. The smaller dragon lowered its head and picked me up. It turned me around slowly, nuzzling me with its great snout. The bigger creature growled. The smaller one held me close to its body and then slowly swam back up to the surface.
Once we reached the surface, it didn’t put me down. It held me and swam towards the beach. It got very close and then stopped swimming. It removed the casing and brought me close to its great eye. I smiled at it. This creature had never meant me any harm. I wished only good things for this fantastic creature. I waved to it. It smiled and put me gently down on the ocean.
I felt a warm wind behind me. I floated back to the beach.
I pulled the kayak back up the beach, put away the paddle, and hung up the life jacket. I stood on the beach and looked out over the ocean. In the distance, I could barely make out the little water dragon swimming in the ocean, making as many waves as it could.
I looked around. The beach was quiet; no one was outside. No one would ever believe that I met a water dragon up close. Would they?
Witness: Maurice Delagua