Universe: The crazy one I grew up in
‘Breathe. Must remember to breathe.’
The key turned in the lock and the front door was swung slowly open into the hungry jungle of my home where prey can become predatory and even the greatest of us can be taken down. Squeaky hinges that even the strongest of oils could not shush laugh at me even as they squawk out like evil harbingers of pain to the sleeping dragon hidden somewhere in the dark depths. My nerves scream as I cringe and slow the doors opening even further. I cannot afford to get caught. Not here. Not yet. Holding the wooden frame firmly in place I stuff my body through the small opening that even a small child would have had to squeeze past and then I freeze and wait and listen.
The hum of the refrigerator in the kitchen drones on under the sounds of traffic from the outside world. But I hear nothing of the wild creature. ‘Is he home?’ I ask myself.
My burning lungs remind me once again to breathe but even then I take in the needed air nice and slow. There is no point rousing his attention with something as frivolous and breathing. I inch forward cautiously. Each foot planted on the jungle floor with precision born of years of familiarity. After all, I grew up in this house and have a love hate relationship with each vocal floorboard and know without looking where the traps of discarded items are strewn. Often they are my allies, warning me of the predatory approach of the rulers of this jungle, or the other beast who prowl these paths and make the jungle their home.
But today they conspire against me. A board that has always held its peace calls out a warning, loud and clear. I freeze but in a heartbeat I know it is too late. Screeches from the deep confirm that the dragon is awake and aware. Heavy footfalls, close in with frightening speed. My own legs are not built for running and I know that I would never make it to the safety of my own den in time. I set myself up for a defense, spreading my legs wide, bend my knees and lower my shoulders to bring down my center of gravity. If I end up on the ground it will be all over.
Despite the fear for my personal safety I cannot help smiling as the dragon tears around the corner and screams my name as he launches his assault. Despite my efforts his small body plows low into mine, beneath my defenses and I go down hard. Arms like steel bands close tight around my waist as what little breathe I have is forced from my body. I close my arms tight about my small dragon as my back slams into the ground and my head knocks back against the front door, closing it with a bang. The world blackens for a moment;, my ears ring like church bells and all I can feel is pain.
The world rights itself slowly. I begin to become aware of the small body wriggling happily in my arms, the sparkling blue eyes smiling up at mine and the cries of joy in my ears. “I missed you!”
Dragging air back into my lungs again I place a kiss on my baby brother’s head. “Steven you are going to kill me,” I laugh. “Come on, let me up and then you can tell me what you have been up to all day.” He bounces to his feet but is still far too small to do much but get in the way as I drag my poor aching body upright. At the moment I am extremely grateful for his size, because when he gets bigger this little hello ritual of his is really going to hurt.
Dedicated to my baby brother who is now a Marine and soon to be husband and still greets me with a flying tackle.