The boy waved the wooden sword in the air at the invisible monsters and shouted, “You got me bad guys,” before grabbing his stomach, groaning, and rolling down the hill in pretend death. He waited face down in the grass with the sun heating his skin and the fresh cut grass tickling his nose. He wasn’t dead. The boy understood that “good guys” are never killed by “bad guys”, so when the monsters were least expecting it, the boy jumped back up, sword in hand and charged. Soon he was cutting through each foe, slicing and stabbing, and they fell, and the boy stood victorious.
Dark clouds hung overhead and during this calm it began to rain. The boy’s mother called him inside, and the boy looked out the window at the rain until his father was home.
“Daddy,” he yelled. “Daddy’s home.”
“What you got there, buddy?”
“A sword? What do you need that for?”
“Bad guys? Here? Are you protecting mommy while I’m gone?”
“Yes. I killed them all so they wouldn’t get Mommy.”
“Good job, son,” his father said, and the boy felt proud and strong hearing this. His father then added, “but be careful,” and the boy brushed off the advice, frowning.
“Okay, okay,” he said. “Can we go swimming after dinner?”
“Maybe if it stops raining,” his father said.
The family had steak for dinner and both the boy’s mother and father said that steak would help the boy grow stronger, so the boy ate all of the steak on his plate, even though he didn’t like it. The next morning he felt it.
“Feel my muscle.” He flexed.
“Wow. That’s a big one.”
“That’s because I ate all my steak.”
“Yes it is,” his father said.
Outside the grass was wet from the previous day, and the air was cooler, and the boy could not see the sun anywhere. It would rain soon, and the boy could not smell the pollen, and everywhere felt still and lifeless. When it’s darker there’s more, he thought.
Daddy was gone. He flew away on his dragon, and mommy’s dragon was sick and in the shop, so the boy was the house’s only defense. Outside were other dragons, dragons that weren’t friendly, and monsters, and vampires, and bad people too. Today the boy was not satisfied to wait around for trouble. The boy had strict instructions from his father, boundaries—places he could not go, but his father also depended on him to protect his mother. The boy’s father needed him, and he would go out into the world to kill his enemies before they could attack the house and take his mother.
The boy went to his secret cave first. Inside he kept a pad of paper and a pen to write plans. He wrote in a secret language so bad guys couldn’t steal these plans. The cave was inside a bush, and it didn’t look like a cave from the outside. Inside red and green rock, and crystals, and waterfalls existed and many secret passages that only he knew. From the outside, to everybody else it was a bush, but there really was so much more to it. Every day the boy would find more passages and additions to the cave. Whenever he’d start to get bored the boy would close his eyes for a second, and when they opened there would be more to see. Lately, the boy found himself closing his eyes frequently, yet sometimes he’d open them to nothing new. It frustrated him, but the boy remained persistent.
Today there were bats in the cave, giant bats, with teeth the size of the boy’s head, but he first saw these bats weeks ago. He fought them off with his sword, and afterward sat down and quietly felt silly and bored. He picked up his pen and pad, thinking hard. It was still very early, far too early to be bored. He closed his eyes, and reopened them. He saw the inside of a bush.
After some time the boy decided that he would cross the ocean for the first time. The ocean was one of the places his father forbade him to go to alone. However, such a place, undiscovered and mysterious, seemed incapable of boring the boy. “Explore the ocean” was the plan he wrote in the secret language that only he knew, a language nobody would be able to read later.
He set out and crossed the desert, and went through the forest before arriving at the shoreline. The places he passed, the boy coursed through quickly, thinking only of his new destination along the way. All of these places were okay to explore, and guilt and fear swelled inside the boy as he passed them. He saw no monsters, yet the journey was turbulent. A violence filled the boy’s insides. He felt his guts turning, and he looked around him, and inside he knew what was real. Somewhere inside, a spot he couldn’t clearly locate was screaming, and he felt these screams in his lungs brutally repressed, and stars were exploding inside his heart, and he could see his father’s face, and he wanted to turn around and hold his mother. However, there was a stronger part of him opposite of these feelings, and that part of him was what had stepped forward. The rush of the new nearly killed him. After some time he felt his mother’s arms around him, holding him as he wanted, and then there was air. It was raining, and the boy felt the rain add to his wetness.
Choking the boy managed to say, “You got me,” before closing his eyes, unsure of the world he’d see again when they reopened.
Sean Gibbons is a recent college grad from Southeastern PA. He writes in his spare time, while attempting to find employment with an English degree. He hopes that writing will some day save him from actually working.