This story is dedicated to Carys Thomas, who is studying to be a writer.
A brief outline of the story she was set to write was sent to me to see what I could produce and so we could compare notes. This is mine and it is amazing how different it is compared to the one Carys wrote. This is, therefore, an exercise in writing. (Words 3,890)
The sun blazed through a chink in the bedroom curtains casting its rays across the face of a beautiful young girl, still with eyes tight closed, and a green dragon with bright yellow blotches scattered over its body also with eyes closed.
The girl’s head was comfortably on the soft down pillow, but the dragon’s was overhanging the side of the bed and almost touching the floor. Two inches further and it would be touching. Argh ! Too late, with nostrils flaring as they felt the tickle of the sheepskin rug on the floor beside the bed, the dragon woke with a start. His eyes opened, but he had to squint at the clock to see the time. He reached for his glasses, special dragon glasses, made especially from the bases of two champagne bottles, joined with extra strong, inch wide elastic so they would not slip off his head. Oh no, Essie, the little girl, would be late for school and that meant he would have to run with her, if he didn’t wake her soon.
The dragon’s name was Druffus, he was a Welsh dragon, the yellow blotches he had painted on his body were depicting Daffodils, but he was not a good painter and they looked more like blobs and splashes all over him as though he had taken part in a paint gun, fun day down on the farm.
‘Wake up Essie, you’re late again and you will be in trouble with your teacher’
‘No, I don’t want to go to school today, I know those three horrible boys in my class will be waiting for me at the school gates. I hate them, they are so cruel to me, just because I am the smallest in the class and have to sit at the front so I can see the whiteboard properly.’
‘Essie, you called me in your dreams last night, surely you remember me, I am Druffus the Welsh dragon, the one who sits on top of the toilet cistern in the bathroom.’
Essie could not remember ‘calling’ for anyone last night, but she did know that she was very unhappy and needed a friend to talk to and someone to help her deal with the bullies at school, her teacher had spoken to them but it had only made things worse for her, so bad in fact that she no longer wanted to get up and go to school.
She opened her eyes, looked first at the clock just to confirm the time, because she didn’t really believe that dragons could tell the time, she then looked at Druffus.
Her eyes popped out on sticks. Druffus was now standing at the bottom of her bed. He must have been at least 8 ft high and from his nostrils to the tip of his pointed, scaly tail, about the same. He was green, not a shade of green she liked, but certainly the same green as the little felt dragon who sat on the top of the toilet in the bathroom. The yellow blotches were the same colour as the paint her father had used on the walls last year and which had miraculously appeared on the little dragon over night, but her father said he hadn’t splashed the dragon to make the blotches. Ummm thought Essie at the time, very strange, but she really loved dragons and thought that green and yellow went together just fine and looked very bright and smart. What was very strange though was that Druffus wore glasses, held round his head by black elastic, as did the small toy dragon in the bathroom. Oh well, she thought, I can’t worry about that, I suppose I will have to go to school.
When she went into the bathroom Essie found that the little green, toy dragon was not there, but there was no time to think about that as she had to get to school.
On the way to school Druffus walked, or should I say waddled with Essie. It was very odd to Essie that people walking towards her appeared to walk right through the dragon as though he wasn’t there. When she asked Druffus why this should be, he explained that only she could see him, but if anybody else were to frighten, hurt or upset her, they would also see him, and he would pull himself up to his full height, take a deep breath as if to breathe fire and frighten them back for upsetting her.
He also confessed to Essie, that because he was the ‘spirit’ of her toy dragon, he couldn’t actually breathe fire, and that he was also a vegetarian so he hoped there would be something he could have for lunch at her school.
As they approached the school gates side by side, Essie hesitated because she knew that the boys always lurked behind the gate pillar so that she couldn’t see them as she approached. True to form one of the boys stepped out just as she was about to enter the school grounds.
He saw Essie, and then he saw Druffus, who came into focus from a smokey haze, standing next to her. Essie had never seen anybody turn white, then pink then purple, then green before they turned and ran, but that is what the boy did. The other two boys wondered what was happening, because they hadn’t yet seen Druffus, but as they too stepped forward to pick on Essie, they reflected the exact shades their friend had turned before they followed him across the playground to hide in the school buildings away from this fearful green dragon with yellow blotches which stood 8ft high and as much long.
Essie was amazed and walked on still in shock at their reactions but very grateful she had Druffus at her side because it meant that the boys hadn’t upset her that morning and also that she wouldn’t be late for school as she had thought she would be.
Essie took her normal seat in the classroom, right at the front and Druffus managed to squeeze in beside her in the aisle. He wasn’t comfortable but knew that the three boys would leave her alone if they could see him, although his visibility to them would fade so long as they didn’t pick on her or frighten her.
It was obvious to Druffus that the boys could still see him when they came skulking into the classroom, late, and got told off by the teacher as she had just finished marking the register and had marked them all down as ‘absent’. Druffus saw them looking furtively round the edge of the door before they actually entered the classroom and saw their faces drop as soon as they saw him, but he ignored them and let them take their seats at the back.
During the first break time, as the lessons changed, both Essie and Druffus could see the boys talking in a corner of the playground and keep looking over toward Essie. They were obviously plotting something not very nice, but of course, Druffus couldn’t sneak up and listen because all three of the boys could still see him quite clearly, he still had to practice ‘disappearing’ but was sure he would soon be able to do that with no trouble. Druffus snorted, took a deep breath in, puffed himself up as big as he could and stood in front of Essie so they couldn’t see her. She felt a lot safer with Druffus there.
Before the end of the break the three boys disappeared. Essie was pleased because she felt very uncomfortable to know they were watching her all the time, or maybe it was Druffus they were watching, but whatever, she didn’t like them and wished they didn’t have to be in her class, or in her school.
The whistle summoned everyone back to their classes and Essie, with Druffus, lined up to go in.
As soon as the first child in the class entered the classroom he immediately stopped and all the others banged into each other, thinking they were still filing in. Essie’s teacher, Miss Evans, was soon on the scene as she had been out in the corridor speaking with a colleague when the pile-up occurred.
She was horrified when she saw the classroom. There was green paint with yellow blotches all over the windows and it was still wet. Miss Evans made every child sit at their desk with their hands folded. She asked the class if they knew anything about the green paint with yellow blotches, but, of course, they all said ‘no’ together, and shaking their heads.
One of the three boys put his hand up.
‘Yes’ said Miss Evans.
‘Please Miss, I think you should be asking Essie what she knows about the paint’.
‘Oh Yes’ said Miss Evans, ‘And why do you say that Bailey?’
‘Well Miss, Essie has brought a green dragon into school with her today, and it has yellow blotches on it, just like the paint on the windows’.
With that, every child in the class began to laugh, because, of course, there was no sign of a green dragon with Essie, with or without yellow blotches. Essie and Druffus were among those who laughed loudest. Druffus more so as he had a deep voice.
Miss Evans was very cross at this disruption and immediately walked to the back of the class and looked at Bailey’s hands, and the hands of his two friends. All six hands had the signs of green paint, and yellow blotches which, although hastily rubbed, had not removed traces of the paint used on the windows. Miss Evans sent all three boys to the art room to fetch a bucket of water and three sponges and cloths to clean off the windows and told the boys that there would be a letter going to their parents reporting the damage they had caused.
The English lesson that followed became more controlled as Miss Evans started talking about how to write stories and at the end of the lesson she set some homework for the class, basing it on Bailey’s accusation that damage caused to the windows in the school classroom that day had been done by a green dragon with yellow blotches which Essie had brought into school, but which nobody could see, not even Essie. Well Essie wasn’t going to tell anybody about the green dragon now was she, but her story was read out to the class two days later as being the best story of all and telling about how the green dragon had grown out of a toy dragon that usually sat on top of the toilet in her bathroom.
The three boys, got detentions because they didn’t do their homework. This made them even more angry with Essie and they vowed they would get her for sure.
The three boys were getting furious because they couldn’t annoy Essie when the green dragon with yellow blotches was there. It was, however, evident to both Essie and Druffus that the boys were plotting something unsavoury.
It was that afternoon when Essie and Druffus were walking home from school that they saw the three boys leaving the sweet shop on the corner of Essie’s road and they were all huddled together looking at something they had bought. Essie thought it must be sweets they were sharing out but Druffus had his doubts. So, being the clever green dragon that he was, he made himself invisible to them, snuck up to have a look and listen and came back to Essie with a smile on his face.
‘Ah now little Essie, I think I can play a prank on those three boys. They have something planned for tomorrow in school, but I am going to sort them out ‘right and proper’’.
He wouldn’t tell Essie any more no matter how hard she tried to get it out of him so in the end she gave up and just had a lovely walk home with Druffus with him having the odd little grunt and gruff laugh to himself. Tomorrow would be another day, but today had been another day free from the torments of the three bullies in her class and for which she was eternally grateful to Druffus for being there with her and also for being her friend.
The following morning, on the way to school, Essie had been frightened by a large dog which was barking loudly and growling, showing large teeth and a sticky dripping tongue. It had run up the road toward her. She was scared to take another step so stood, frozen to the spot, afraid to move or even breathe.
She heard Druffus say quietly
‘Don’t be frightened Essie, the dog won’t hurt you, just watch’.
With that Druffus ‘appeared’ to the barking, growling and dribbling dog out of a smoke haze in front of Essie. The effect was instantaneous. The dog stopped barking and growling, the dribbling continued but it was more in fear. The dog’s body changed shape from a frightening, charging, snarling beast to that of a whimpering, head down, tail down, shadow of its former self as it turned and skulked off back the way it had come. Essie, on watching the dog almost crawling now, back up the road, saw the faces of Bailey and the other two boys looking round the end of the brick wall at the next corner. They looked amazed at what they had seen. Not only could they see the green dragon with yellow blotches, but so could their neighbour’s vicious dog whom they had let loose from his long chain in the back garden.
The boys’ heads disappeared as they had appeared, as if by magic, but Essie could imagine them hurtling down the other road to get to school so as not to be late again. Miss Evans had warned them the previous day that they would have to see the Headmaster if they were late again and another letter would be sent to all their parents, who in turn would be in trouble with the school authorities. All the parents would then have to walk to school with their children to ensure they were not late. The boys didn’t want this of course, they liked to get into as much trouble as possible on the way to school.
Essie had seen them crossing the road and holding up a row of cars, no sooner had one got halfway across, than another would start to cross, then the third would start just as the first reached the other side and started to cross back. This really annoyed the motorists trying to get to work, but nobody could stop them doing this until one day a motorist phoned for the police, who were quickly on the scene and gave all three boys a talking to on the side of the road. Still they continued on another road, and so on, moving to a different location everyday. Essie thought this was very silly and dangerous but there was nothing she could do.
Arriving at school, Essie was really surprised to see Bailey and his two friends already in their seats. Also, with a surprised look on her face, Miss Evans took the register and complimented the three of them for being on time.
The first lesson began with no disruption from the boys. Break time came and all three were huddled in the corner of the playground so Druffus ‘disappeared’ again and went to listen. He heard what they were plotting and readied himself for the next lesson.
Druffus and Essie were first in line to file back in so the three boys caught sight of Druffus as they came in to take their seats at the back. They didn’t know that Druffus had heard what they were going to do, nor did they know what Druffus was going to do.
Ten minutes into the maths lesson Druffus smiled a wide smile at Essie and then a most awful rumble came from his back end and his tail jumped up and down a few times.
‘What was that?’ said Essie.
‘Just wait and smell’ replied Druffus.
Within a couple of seconds there was commotion in the classroom, children were coughing, wheezing and trying to get out of the classroom door. There was the most obnoxious smell in the classroom, so strong that it brought tears to everybody’s eyes, including Miss Evans, who was last to leave, having opened all the windows and shepherding the children back out into the playground, to the fire alarm meeting point well away from the buildings.
It took a while for them to stop coughing and wipe their eyes in the fresh air, and by then all the other classes had joined them in the playground because the obnoxious smell had permeated through the building at great speed. It was carried on the green and yellow haze in the air.
Essie took Druffus to one side.
‘What did you do?’ she whispered, still coughing little coughs.
‘Well…’ said Druffus ‘I overheard Bailey in the playground saying that they were going to let off some stink bombs that they had bought in the corner shop, so I thought I would get in first. The stink bombs are still in Bailey’s coat pocket which is in the classroom on the back of his chair. Perhaps you could ‘suggest’ to Miss Evans that she search through the bags and coat pockets to find out who caused the ‘stink’. Bailey will never know who suggested it to her so I think you should do it now’.
Essie did not hesitate, she marched straight up to Miss Evans and said what Druffus had told her to say. Miss Evans called over one of the other teachers and they went back to the classroom to start the search.
It wasn’t long before Miss Evans found the stink bombs in Bailey’s coat. She knew immediately that it was his as his name tag was sewn on the inside of his collar. Walking back to the playground where all the children were still lined up quietly, and carrying the coat over her arm and the unused stink bombs in her hand, she went straight over to Bailey and told him and his two friends to follow her to see the Headmaster.
Bailey and the other two looked at each other. They all knew they hadn’t let off the stink bombs, and anyway, stink bombs they had let off before had never smelt like that had today. Miss Evans walked quickly which meant that Bailey and the boys had to run, something they didn’t normally do under any circumstances. But oh… the expression on the Headmaster’s face when they entered his office, it was ‘thunderous’.
The evidence was in Miss Evans’ hands, so was Bailey’s coat where the evidence had been found in the left hand pocket. What the Headmaster and Miss Evans had missed was that the stink bombs had not been let off and were still complete, but the Head was hearing no excuses, or reasoning because he knew that the intent had been there and the boys would have let off the stink bombs, whether they had actually done so or not. He didn’t really care, he was fed up with having the same three boys on report, in his office, in detention or having to write letters to their parents and meet with them to discuss the bad behaviour of their sons.
The Headmaster told Bailey in particular that this was the last straw as far as he was concerned and that there would have to be a good reason for him to keep all three of them in the school.
Bailey, burst into tears, the other two looked very worried and upset at what the Headmaster had said and knew that this time perhaps they had gone too far, although they had not actually set off the stink bombs, they would have done, given the chance.
All of the boys’ parents were at the school within the hour, had a meeting with the Headmaster and took their sons away to their respective homes. All three boys had been suspended and instructed not to hang around the school or streets near the school.
Essie was so pleased she wouldn’t have to see the boys again in school and taught Druffus how to skip in the garden, although the long pointed tail that he had kept getting caught up in the skipping rope. Essie was a changed child, she was happy, clever, singing and dancing into school every morning and so happy to have her friend.
A few weeks later, asleep in her bed, Druffus whispered in Essie’s ear.
‘Goodbye Essie’ you don’t need me now and you will make lots of new friends at school now the boys are gone, but I will still be with you, just look on the top of the toilet in the bathroom and I will be there. If you need me again, you only have to call and I will come’.
Essie, when she woke in the morning, could remember nothing of Druffus, or of the happenings at school, although there was still talk of the ‘stink bomb’ that had been set off by Bailey and the other two boys.
Essie started to make new friends, who didn’t tease her about having to sit at the front of the class to see the whiteboard, and was most surprised when Bailey turned up at school one day because the Headmaster had allowed him to return, but the other boys had been sent to a new school.
During the break time, Bailey came up to Essie and apologised to her for being so cruel, he mentioned the green dragon to her but Essie laughed.
‘The only green dragon I know is the small felt one that sits on top of my toilet in the bathroom and I don’t for one moment think he would scare anybody’ she said.
Bailey looked confused, but because the other two boys were not there for him to hang around with, he started talking more often to Essie and also walking to and from school with her. They became really good friends and Essie was the centre of a large group of girls and boys from that class who hung out together in the park and at weekends.
Essie showed her green dragon with yellow blotches to Bailey a few months later but the large dragon that made the obnoxious smell in the classroom was never mentioned again after that. Even the dog next door to Bailey never barked at Essie when she popped round to Bailey’s house to play.
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See also Room To Grow