Saturday, February 5, 2011

Damson Dragon

I watched a man die today, when I could have saved him.

When I got home at the end of my shift at 8:30 AM, Ma was up, making breakfast, scrambled eggs with bacon bits and cheese mixed in. She made toast for herself, and sliced tomatoes from her balcony garden, but I can't eat bread, or vegetables. Dragons are pure carnivores, and I inherited that trait.

I told her about the man who died over breakfast. I've already forgotten his name, which bugs me. Some middle-aged, overweight middle manager who clearly spent too much of his life working hard to make his company wealthy. Somebody should remember his name.

He had a heart attack. Our response times are the best in town, I'm proud to say, so we got to him fast. Some secretary had done CPR on him till we arrived. My partner paddled him, and he had a rhythm. He was breathing. If I'd bit him then, he'd have made a full recovery. My venom has some pretty remarkable healing properties when I'm in the right mental space. But I couldn't very well pop out fangs and bite the guy in front of his secretary and half his office. They were all hovering around, no matter how much I tried to get them to go back to their computers and status meetings.

The rhythm faltered, and he gasped right there while all his co-workers gawked. A second attack. It happens sometimes, like aftershocks after an earthquake. We couldn't get him jump-started again. He just ... stopped. And I watched it and did nothing. Well, not nothing. I did everything a human could have done to try to save him. But it wasn't enough.

I could have saved him. Right then, I was the only one who could. But I didn't.

Ma made comforting noises at me. "You know you have to keep your head down, Damson. I know how hard it is on you."

She doesn't though. She has no idea. What's the point of being so different. I've got all these abilities, but all I do is hide them. I should be using them to make a difference, like Dad did. Ma doesn't see what I see, night after night.

That guy, he was about my age, early sixties, time when humans start to die pretty regularly. I still get carded in bars, or I would if I drank alcohol, but still, he and I were the same age.

Ma and I ran through the same old argument a little. I pointed out that lots of folks who were different were running around in costumes saving people nowadays. They made the news, got endorsement deals from Nike, got medals from the president. They didn't have to keep their heads down and blend in, even when it cost a man's life.

She got all teary-eyed, and scared looking, and made me promise I wouldn't do anything crazy. It was that kind of thinking that cost my dad his life. Georgians got him before I hit puberty, and if they'd have known about me, they'd have taken my head, too. Might have killed Ma, too, just for consorting with dragons.

Ma's the only family I've had since then. It's been just the two of us most of my life, moving from place to place whenever folks started to notice that I didn't seem to be getting any older, or if they got a glimpse of my scales or wings. She's spent her whole life looking out for me. I promised her I wouldn't do anything that would bring the Georgians' attention.

Not Georgians like people from Georgia. Knights in the order of St. George. Dragon slayers. It's a secret society that's existed since just before the dark ages. But they're not ancient history, they're still around. Or at least, they were, about 50 years ago, when they chopped my dad's head off and left his skinned, headless body in the field at our farm for my mother and me to find when we got back from town.

Yeah, I'll keep my head down, and keep it on my shoulders. For Ma's sake. For now.

I guess if I'm going to write down my thoughts in a diary to keep from going nuts, I should probably sign them, but I'm not sure how. My full name is Damson Diane Drake. Ma named me Damson after the plums. My hair was brilliant purple when I was born. It's black now in most lights, although you can see shimmers of eggplant in bright sunshine. I try to avoid sunshine.

I mostly just go by Dee, because the name on the fake birth certificate I use changes every few years. Currently, it says Diane Emerson, my mother's maiden name.

Drake just means dragon, and it was the only last name my dad ever gave. He was the real deal. He could look as human as anyone one minute, and fly over the house in full scales the next, double in size till he was big as a plow horse. He was beautiful, too. Scales the color of emeralds with purple streaks in a pattern like a tiger, with heavier silver scales on his spine and chest. He used to take me flying over our farm and the woods behind it.

Now, I'm getting all teary-eyed. It's been a long night. I'm just tired.

Ma's settled in her rocker with her knitting and her cane close by, and her soaps on the TV. She can wake me if she needs anything. That's enough for a first shot at this diary thing.

D Dragon

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