“The sun won’t go out, mummy. The dragons will save us,” a four-year-old said.
No one listened to the hopeful nonsense of a four-year-old. A few people standing near her in the grocery store shook their heads. Her mother, who had been reading the nutritional label on a box of Cheerios before the intercom announced the impending apocalypse, ruffled the little girl’s hair with tears in her eyes and said, “Of course, honey. Why didn’t I think of that?”
The mother blinked back her tears and took her little one home to the country, far from looters and panicking hordes. She turned off all media that declared the inevitable end of everything. She pulled out puzzles and toys and sat on the floor and played with her daughter and tried not to think of the end of days.
It was the best two days the four-year-old had ever known, even as the light outside grew dim. “Better than Christmas!” she told her mum with a hug.
On the third day she suggested to her mother they go outside and watch the dragons.
Mother obliged. All that mattered anymore was that her little girl was not afraid. She found reserves of bravery she didn’t know she had to protect the child. She kept her trembling hands to herself.
“Look, mummy, there’s one now!” The little girl pointed at the sky in delight.
Her mother’s eyes followed her gaze and froze. There, an impossible dragon climbed through the sky. As it grew dark, they watched the dragons breathing fire, twinkling orange lights in a sky full of stars and dragons. “Their fire works like rocket boosters to propel them to the sun,” explained the child. “Wings don’t work in outer space, you know.”
“No, I guess they wouldn’t,” said the mother.
“We won’t be able to see everything from here. Not without a super powerful telescope,” the four-year-old said. “But all the dragons are going to the sun, and they’re going to hold hands with each other and breathe all their fire onto it.”
“How do you know this?”
“The mermaid told me. The one in the pond by the house. They’ll breathe their fire together and it will fix the sun. They’ve done it a dozen times. They’ll have to sleep in their secret moon caves for a few thousand years afterwards, though. Because it’s tiring to recharge a sun like that and they’re going to need a nap.”
The little girl smiled and squeezed her mother’s hand. “Isn’t it nice of them, though? To do that? The mermaid says it’s because they like trees and trees need sun to grow. But maybe they like us a little bit too. You and me, I mean. I think dragons would like us if they got to know us.”
“Me too, sweetie,” said her mother.
That night they fell asleep in each other’s arms, under a sky full of dragon fire. In the morning the mother looked at the child with awe as the sun grew steadily brighter and fears of the apocalypse subsided.
This story was written in response to a flash fiction challenge issued by Chuck Wendig – click here to see that original post and peruse other stories!
One thought on “A Bedtime Story of the Apocalypse”
I can back the four-year-old up on this: wings do not work in space.
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