Conquering the Flashlight Dragon

May 9 – story prompt used for this one: Rory’s Story Cubes, a picture of 9 of the cubes showing the following – moon, star, flashlight, clock, arrow, magnifying glass, eye, fish, dragon.

Dice had always been a part of Daphne Bishop’s life. They even played a large part in the story of how her parents had met. Lance Bishop was working as the stick man at a craps table in Laughlin, Nevada and Wanda was a new cocktail waitress. Wanda and Lance always told the story differently but always agreed on one thing, Lance’s stick met Wanda’s hip and then her tray of drinks met the pit boss’s head thus ending her short career as a cocktail waitress. Lance felt so bad that he asked her out and they were married six months later.

Even after the casino jobs were both old history and the couple went from impetuous youth to attentive parents, Lance still enjoyed the feel of the dice. When Daphne was little he would amuse her by rolling dice along his hands. As Daphne grew older her father helped her learn to count and add by making up animal stories using the same dice. Even as Lance gave his daughter a sense of play, her mother infused her with a love of learning. So no one was surprised when Daphne decided to have a career in early education.

Daphne’s students loved her ability to show them the world in a fun way. The parents loved Daphne’s amazing ability to pull the best out of each child, no matter what their ability level. For her part, Daphne loved the creativity she saw in her students. Weekends often found her prowling everywhere from antique shops to game stores for new ideas. Then came the day she found Rory’s Story Cubes and life seemed a perfect circle. Her father’s dice and her mother’s love of all things learning seemed to be wrapped up in that perfect orange box.

What had originally been meant for the children, turned into an evening obsession. Daphne would rush home from work, roll the cubes and spend the rest of the evening making up a “Once Upon a Time” story to fit the nine pictures. She carefully wrote each story down and sometimes even added a drawing. Soon, she promised herself, she would take the cubes and a few of the stories to school for her class. Soon.

But despite her best intentions, the story pile continued to grow. One night, Daphne just didn’t know what to make of her dice. No story popped into her head, no drawing suggested itself. Just those nine cubes, mocking her. That night the young teacher didn’t sleep well. Visions of the picture cubes taunted her every time she dared close her eyes. For three days Daphne continued the relentless search for a story in the cubes. Even the children noticed how tired and grumpy she had become.

“What’s wrong Miss Bishop?” Asked Sarah, the bravest one in the group.

“Thank you for asking. But I’m just a little tired today.”

After two weeks of this, the principal called Daphne in to her office. “I’ve had complaints from the parents. You’re tired, distracted, muttering about flashlights and dragons. What’s going on?”

Daphne hesitated, what would this organized, well put together woman think of her near obsession with nine little picture cubes? “It’s just family stuff. Really, nothing to worry about.”

She was clearly not convinced, “Do you need time off?”

Time off? Oh no, thought Daphne, then she’d be stuck at the apartment with those infernal cubes. “Thank you for your offer but I’ll be fine. If that’s all?” she rose from the chair and started inching toward the door without waiting for a reply.

“For now, but please come see me if you need to take some time.” The principal softened, “Sometimes our jobs need to take a back seat for a week or two.”

“Thank you, bye.” Daphne hurried out the door as fast as seemed proper.

At home that evening she promised herself that this would be the final night of work on the infernal picture cubes. After this, she promised herself, I’ll take everything to the kids and we can make class stories.

Perhaps it was the wine, or the relief at promising herself this would be the last night of straining to write a story, but around midnight Daphne was done. Just in time, she thought, the wine is all gone. With a sense of satisfaction she read the latest story.

Once upon a time there was a special kingdom that had a big orange moon and one lime green star in the night sky. Every night that moon would shine so bright that no one ever had to use a flashlight when they went outside. Not that anyone would ever know how bright it was. You see, by the time the clock said it was 7pm everyone was safely tucked in bed, even the adults! But eventually a little boy was born named Blarrow, which he always patiently explained, rhymed with arrow. Along with his name that had to be explained, Blarrow also had hair that had to be explained. It was thick and blond, odd enough in a place of dark brown haired people, but also that hair would not ever lay down nicely. It just stuck out of his head at every which angle it could. And to make matters worse, Blarrow didn’t want to go to bed by 7pm like everyone else. Some of the older adults felt the hair and the bedtime issues were related, but no one could prove anything Eventually there came an evening when Blarrow carefully went to bed and let his mommy and daddy give him a kiss goodnight just like a normal night. But it was not a normal night, for Blarrow had taken his favorite magnifying glass to bed with him and tucked his sneakers under his bed. And then when everybody was asleep he quietly got out of bed and put on his sneakers, crept down the steps so that they wouldn’t creak, and slowly opened the front door so that hopefully it wouldn’t squeak. For that door could be very squeaky when it wanted to be. Whew, it didn’t make any noise! So far so good, Blarrow thought to himself, why there’s no one out her but me and the animals. Now he was a brave little boy and wasn’t worried about the night time animals, after all, the daytime animals were nice enough. Soon Blarrow was busy wandering around and looking at all the plants and bugs with his wonderful magnifying glass. Eventually he found himself at the creek. In the daytime the small, dank creek was pretty boring. But now in the night with the bright orange moon and the lime green star lighting the night sky, that creek looked pretty magical. So Blarrow got right down on his stomach and looking through this magnifying glass saw a HUGE eye. What was that? Blarrow leaned back a bit so the eye wouldn’t look so huge. Ah, it was just a fish! It was probably the biggest fish Blarrow had ever seen, which explained the eye. It wasn’t too long before Blarrow decided he really had to go one more place before going home, the cave on the top of the hill. Nobody knew what was up there because nobody had been up there in so many years. Some of the older boys used to try and scare the smaller kids by saying a monster lived up there. Blarrow thought this silly so off he tramped to the hill up behind his house. It was a long way up there and the moon was close to setting by the time Blarrow reached the mouth of the cave. He would have to hurry to see what was inside and get back home before his parents woke up. As Blarrow went into the cave he realized how dark it was and wished he’d brought a flashlight. Soon his eyes adjusted to the dark enough to see a little bit and Blarrow bravely went further into the cave. He was very disappointed that he couldn’t find anything interesting and decided he had better get back home. Carefully, Blarrow walked back out toward the cave entrance. Just as Blarrow was stepping out side a large dragon came gliding down and landed. He was only a few steps away! Blarrow stood there frozen. The big boys had been right. There was a monster in the cave! But the dragon was even more scared. He jumped up 10 feet in the air and blew dragon fire out of his mouth at Blarrow’s hair. Suddenly Blarrow was no longer such a brave little boy! He screamed and began running down the hill toward his house. Just as he arrived at the front door the sun was rising. If only he could make it back to bed before his mommy woke up. But that was not to be. Blarrow had made it in the squeaky door, and up the creaky steps and was almost to his room when his Mommy found him. Blarrow thought he would be in trouble for sure but all she did was hug him! Blarrow was VERY confused, until his mommy took him into the bathroom. Blarrow looked in the mirror and saw that his hair was now blond and laid down just like his daddy’s. But the dragon did more than just straighten out Blarrow’s hair. From that day on he was happy to be all tucked into bed by 7pm. THE END

Daphne smiled a very tired smile as she finished reading the story. Tomorrow, she would most definitely take Rory’s story cubes to school and share them with her class. Daddy had certainly had fun dice, but these cubes were truly magical.

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Filed under Story A Day, writing fiction

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