“There’s a dragon in the attic.” The son comes up to the father and announces it seriously one day.
The father looks at the son. A young boy barely out of toddlerhood, dragging a little dragon soft toy, looks earnestly at him. He’s always been a serious little boy, curious, playful, sometimes mischievous, but always earnest, almost always with a grave look on his face.
“That’s nice, son.” The father ruffles the son’s hair. And goes back to reading his newspaper.
“There’s a dragon in the attic, pa. He lives in one corner, sitting on a pile of gold.” The son persists.
The father raises one eyebrow. That’s imagination, right there. Surprisingly advanced imagination for a young chap like this. Gold must be an advanced concept in the world of dragon imagination.
“Ma, come here and listen to your son.” The dad hollers. “He’s got something amazing to tell you, doesn’t he?” The mum comes over dutifully from the kitchen, wiping her wet hands on her apron. She listens and claps appreciatively. “Well done, son! It must be a beautiful golden dragon!”
“No, it’s a silver one. It’s quite small, actually. Not as big as in the picture book you bought me.” The son sounds wistful as he pouts over this injustice.
The father and mother exchange glances. This doesn’t sound like how a normal conversation about imaginary monsters should go. “Son, are you imaginating this dragon?” The father asks with a touch of impatience. “Imagining,” murmurs the mother with a similar touch of impatience.
“No, he’s sitting in one corner, and he was talking to me. He told me to tell you that he’s getting bored, and wants a change.” The son extends a foot and draws a small figure of eight with his toe on the floor. “He says he’ll give us something nice.”
“What are you talking about, son? What did you see?” The mother is now worried, and squats in front of the son. Speak to your child at eye level, that’s the trick. Put him at ease. No one ever says what will put the parent at ease, but parents are supposed to have all the answers.
“I told you, Ma. There’s a dragon in the attic.” The son is adamant, staring the mother in the eye. That must mean he must be telling the truth.
Father, mother and son climb up the ladder to the attic, where boxes of stuff are kept, including the son’s baby goods, some unused tools, and old furniture. The son brings the father and mother over to one corner, and show them a dark pile of cloth. “He was sitting on top of this cloth, on top of some gold coins. I don’t know where he is now. Dragon, come out, wherever you are!”
The son is sent to his room without dinner that night, as a punishment. Past midnight, the son bangs on the parents’ room door. “Pa, ma, the dragon got angry!” When the father pulls open the door, ready to scold the son, the smell of smoke filters into the room. In horror, the father and mother both stare at the attic door above them, as flames start to lick around the edges of the door.
Thankfully, the fire insurance is paid up. The son holds on to the mother’s hand firmly, without fear, watching as the flames go up. The father and mother are not without fear.
Hours later, when the father is allowed back into the ruins, the firemen show him a pile of partially melted gold coins, which they assume belongs to the family. The father silently accepts the largesse, and when the time comes, the parents build a new house. Making sure that the attic is not as plain as before.
Three months follow with no further events.
“There’s a goblin in the basement, sitting on some bones.” The son proclaims, dragging his goblin soft toy behind him.