It didn’t take long for Jo to fall asleep after her failed drawing attempt. And with sleep, came the dragon.
The dragon didn’t come every night. He came sporadically; sometimes he came every night for a week, other times he only appeared once or twice a month.
Sometimes Jo could tell it would come. If she had trouble sleeping, like she did that night, it typically came to distract her until she fell asleep.
Other times, it came when she didn’t expect it to. It would gently tap on the window with its large, soft snout until she woke up.
Jo was in a light sleep when the dragon started knocking on the glass. She woke up with the sound of the first knock and within seconds was out of bed and flying toward the window to open it and greet the dragon.
A stinging cold November wind swept through the room as Jo opened the window. She didn’t mind; it freed her from the suffocating warmth of her room, filled with swirling, dusty air and germs waiting to deliver some nasty colds. She inhaled the fresh air wafting into her room exhaled, watching her breath condense and sink before her.
The dragon covered outside the window, carefully observing her as always. It was a magnificent creature, exuding wisdom and gentleness in its every gesture. It’s milky white scales were celestial: glistening and shimmering as if they were made of the stars themselves. Its eyes were pitch black and had an uncanny depth to them that was so easy to get lost in. Its snout was covered in a thin layer of soft, fluffy fur and was framed by a set of flowing whiskers.
“Hello there,” Jo whispered to it. “You came again, huh?” She reached out to stroke its snout. The dragon purred upon her touch and snuggled its muzzle up to her face.
The dragon was cat-like in its behavior. It was typically quiet, aloof and mysterious, commanding an unspoken power over her as a cat does its owner. However, with the smallest expression of affection, it became loving, playful and naïve, shedding its tense and intimidating nature like an extra skin.
Jo let go of the dragon and backed away from the window a bit. The cold was starting to get to her, prickling and stinging her skin. She rubbed her arms for heat.
The dragon was attuned to her senses. It nuzzled her again, as if to warm her and shield her from the penetrating cold. She hugged it back, resting her head on its herculean back. She closed her tired eyes.
And when she opened them, she was no longer in her bedroom, but on the dragon’s back as it soared up into the sky.
The shock stole the breath from her lungs. Her hair was blowing everywhere, getting stuck in her eyes. There was no sound except for the violent rushing of the wind around them.
She tried looking down at the ground below only to have her stomach flip at the sight. The street lights below were already the size of gnats and growing smaller and smaller below them. They were high- higher than any airplane would dare to go, and nearing the boundary between earth and an ominous, forbidding infinitude.
Above them were the stars, shining much more brilliantly than they should have been over American suburbia. They shimmered in a fluid motion, as if they were a wave bouncing slowly up and down in the ocean. There were groups of stars congregated close together, all of them pieces of the same constellation or galaxy.
Jo thought of Van Gogh’s Starry Night Painting. The sky she saw now was similar in essence to the sky Van Gogh had painted: the gentle mix of white and yellow, how water-like the stars were and the sheer size and detail of the unreachable galaxies beyond. Was this what Van Gogh saw the night he dreamt of that painting?
The dragon was soaring directly upwards now at an indescribable speed. Jo could no longer hear anything; they had surpassed the sound barrier. Her eyes were forced shut from the wind and pressure. She couldn’t do anything but cling on to the dragon’s large scales desperately.
And then, abruptly, it stopped. Jo was nearly thrown off the dragon, and for a moment, she felt violently nauseous. The wind died down around her.
She ventured to open her eyes.
She and the dragon had reached the stars. Far below them was the earth, now a glowing blue, green and white orb floating in a dark space. All around them were little dots of light twinkling together with a mysterious rhythm.
Jo felt weightless. All around her, the fabric of her pajamas swayed gently, yet there was not even the slightest breeze. She felt her body part from the dragon slowly and naturally.
They were floating in space, untethered from the world below.
Jo let go of the dragon’s scales and allowed herself to levitate above it. She slowly drifted away from the dragon.
The dragon circled around her playfully and snuggled its snout against her cheek again.
The fur tickled her cheeks. She giggled like a little girl at the sensation and returned the gesture.
Jo glanced down at the world below. From where they were it looked just like the marble set she and Caleb used to play with it as young children: perfectly round, colorful, and sleek.
This is unreal, Jo thought.
She stared at it in awe of its beauty. From this distance, she can see the earth rotating ever so slowly, yet steadily. It was a constant motion, with no sign of it ever ceasing.
She turned to the dragon. “Why did you bring me here?” she asked, gently stroking it.
The dragon just silently blinked at her. It watched her intensely, its large dark eyes steadfast in its gaze, not revealing an ounce of feeling or emotion as it observed her.
Jo knew so little about the dragon. It just appeared and disappeared as it pleased; she had no clue where it came from and where it went. It hardly made a sound. She found its behavior confusing: bold and overwhelming at one moment, yet playful and intimate in the next.
She didn’t understand the dragon, she realized. She had thought she did.
Like every dream with the dragon did, the scene around her began to melt and blend together. The Earth became a smudge on a blurry back canvas; the stars became streaks of white and yellow.
Jo began to fall. She tumbled out of space, arms and legs flailing as she gravity took hold of her once again and pulled her back to earth faster and faster.
Until she woke up in her bed to a screeching alarm.