Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Misunderstood Dragon

There once was a young dragon named Jahil. And his parents loved him with all their might. They told Jahil, "You can be anything you want to be." They urged him to not give up on his dreams, to believe in himself and his abilities. But Jahil had only one dream, and he felt it with a fierceness that could -- and often did, when he let his fire lash out -- burn down forests. This was his dream: Jahil wanted only to be a unicorn.

Jahil's parents, being as supportive as they could be, went to the local costume shop and bought him a horn and a unicorn's mane and tail. But Jahil did not want to dress like a unicorn, he did not want to pretend to be a unicorn, he wanted to be a unicorn. He wanted it so badly, that it was as if he was a unicorn on the inside already, but his body just didn't match. 

When he was breathing fire, he really thought he was moving the horn on his unicorn head with a forward thrust. When his wings lifted him into sky, he felt the bounce of a gallop instead of the soar of a flight. Though he was well-liked among his peers, he always felt like something was not right, like they knew he was not right, like they knew his secret. He was both afraid of and relieved by the idea that someone might think he was more like a unicorn than like a dragon. 

And he was majorly flunking out of Scare Tactics class in school. He was just too plan gentle to even want to scare anyone. In order not to feel completely foolish, he acted like the class clown, kind of making fun of himself, and making it okay when kids laughed at him, as if he was too cool to try to do the assignments in Scare Tactics class and was just giving the opposite of what the teacher was looking forward just to be funny and cool. But deep inside, Jahil was suffering. He felt so alone and didn't know what to do with his feelings.

Jahil found a place at the outskirts of the school grounds, where the forest started and the ball fields ended. He began to walk into the forest, feeling the awkwardness of his clawed feet, a body made more for flying than running. Inside, he yearned for the leanness and gracefulness of a unicorn's form. Jahil curled up beneath a pine tree, imagining that he was indeed a unicorn, resting under his claimed tree. He imagined that he no longer had to sleep in a cave, but could sleep in the great outdoors, cushioned by a bed of pine needles.

Falling into a deep, happy sleep, out here where he believed he could, as his parents had said, be what he truly wished to be, Jahil dreamed of galloping as a unicorn through a great meadow, peppered with yellow wildflowers. In his dream, he came upon a beautiful young girl, with long blonde hair, who helped tame him and wove a crown of wildflowers to put on his head. This young girl sang to him the sweetest songs, full of curious words, putting him into a kind of trance. He became enchanted with the girl and even let her climb upon him and ride him. When he woke up, the very girl he dreamed of was standing in front of him.

Jahil closed his eyes again, thinking he was still asleep. But when he opened his eyes again, once again the young girl was standing above him. He knew he was still in his dragon form, so he was surprised at her courage.

"Hello," said the young girl.

"Hello," said Jahil, blinking himself awake. "You aren't scared of me?"

"Why would I be scared of you?" asked the girl. "You are one of the gentlest beasts."

"Aren't you afraid I'm going to burn you with a roar of fire?"

The girl started giggling uncontrollably.

"What's so funny?" asked Jahil.

"You think you are a dragon!" she exclaimed, pointing at Jahil and smiling.

"Aren't I?" asked Jahil.

"Silly, unicorn!" she said, shaking her head.

"Don't you see my scales?" asked Jahil, looking at his belly, red and black and scaly.

"Unicorns don't have scales!"

"Who are you?" asked Jahil.

"I am Maggie, girl of the forest," said Maggie.

"Well, you must be blind," said Jahil.

"Do you not see my eyes can see as well as yours?" she asked, pointing to her eyes.

"Well, you can't see me for the hideous creature I am."

"Because you are beautiful, Unicorn!"

Jahil hung his head. "How I wish I were a unicorn."

"But you are!" said Maggie, determined.

"What are you, to fool with me that way?"

"Don't you know, I am the girl of the forest. And I can see and sense everyone's true self. No matter what you think you look like on the outside, I see the truth, and the truth is. . .you are a Unicorn!"

"Really?" asked Jahil. "I always thought I was more like a unicorn than a dragon on the inside, but my stupid body doesn't match."

"I can help you with that! That must be why you came to the forest, to find me. For it is my job to help people match their outsides with their insides," said Maggie.

"You can do that?" asked Jahil.

"Yes. I cannot and would not lie to you. But are you ready to give up your suffering? So many people think they want to change, but they've really become attached to their suffering selves," she explained.

"I no longer want to suffer," said Jahil.

"Well, if you do, it won't work anyhow," said Maggie.

"Believe me, I want nothing more than to be the unicorn I feel I am in my deepest heart," said Jahil, standing up, and suddenly feeling a strength and leanness in his limbs that he hadn't felt before.

"Then, I deem you transformed!" Maggie exclaimed, gesturing towards him.

Suddenly, Jahil felt a change overcome him, and he looked down at himself, and saw the horse body and felt the weight of his single horn.

"Would you like to go for a ride?" he asked Maggie.

"I'd love to. I know a meadow not far from here, full of yellow wildflowers," she said, climbing onto Jahil, the unicorn's back.

And Jahil ran and ran. And Maggie crowned him with a crown of wildflowers while they rested in the meadow.

Finally, it came time for Jahil to go home and face his parents.

"Don't worry," said Maggie, "Your parents knew all along. They will be happy for you."

And it was true. Jahil's dragon's parents embraced him the same way as if he was in the dragon body he was born into. In fact, they held him a little more tightly, delighted that Jahil's dream of becoming a unicorn had finally come true.

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