Dancing with Dragons

I was always a frightened child. Well, maybe not always. I guess in the beginning I was actually quite bold. Every new person I met was a friend in the making. Every place I’d never been was holding untold adventure. Actually I was pretty brave…in the beginning.

I don’t know exactly when or how it happened, but those potential new friends became strangers. New friends you pursue. Strangers you avoid, hide from, guard yourself against. Caves to explore became dark and scary. They mystery of night was no longer exciting, but full of threat and menace. That fearless little girl grew up to understand that the world is full of dangers, and many of those dangers walk on two legs and look you in the eye.

When I first met him, I knew he was dangerous. But I’d also learned how to protect myself from scary things. I left a light on in the bathroom at light, avoided heights, stayed away from animals, and always walked on the inside of the sidewalk. But people were the easiest threat to avoid. A sharp tongue, a superior attitude (no matter how false), a touch of smugness and most people were pathetically easy to manipulate. Arms-lengthing was a skill, and I had plenty of practice. I stopped worrying that anyone would cross over into my dance space. No spaghetti arms here.

So when he stepped up close, I thought I knew how to drive him back. He danced on the line I drew and smiled with a wink above the wall. He was persistent, and I learned that my normal routine of banter and subtly cutting remarks wouldn’t deter one with his ego. So the banter became the rhythm of the dance, a dance he was more than comfortable leading. I tried to stay on top, controlling the steps and sway. Then he’d pull me close, until the smell of him filled the air, and I’d lose my center. Arms weak, the lead was his once again. Eventually my head would clear, my body stiffen, and I’d struggle to regain the lead.

I was the princess locked in a tower surrounded by a gateless wall. He didn’t know I’d not been banished there by some evil overlord. I’d build the tower myself and wanted nothing of rescue. So he didn’t ask permission before tearing down my fortress. As the walls crumbled around me I was exposed, vulnerable like I hadn’t been in years. I looked into him with terror in my eyes, having no way of knowing if he was knight or dragon.

He found my dark, hidden places and asked to go inside. He discovered intimacies and stretched out a hand to hold them. He saw the glimmer of tears, the trembling hands and kissed my eyes as he slipped my hands in his pockets.

He pursued until I couldn’t fight him anymore. With a sigh of defeat I melted into his kiss. I lost myself in the ocean blue of his eyes and let myself drift away to the soft rumbling of his voice as I reached a moment of surrender. He would kill the scary things and catch me when I fell. He’d be the strong arm in the dark. He’d lead me through the fire so I’d never burn.

Oh, but burn I did. The music screeched jarringly to a halt, I stepped off the beat, and no one kept me from hitting the floor. As I looked up, dazed and bleeding, his cold stare met mine and the shining armor gave way to leathery scales. The heat of his rage tore at me. He devoured until I thought he’d never be sated. When he lifted his face and licked his blood-soaked maw, I thought there was nothing left of me. He believed the same, rose to his four feet, and lazily took flight, leaving the pool of me that remained.

Now the shadows I feared in the dark have a form. The dangers people represent have left their jagged scars on my flesh. The walls have been rebuilt, and the tower is firm. My fear keeps me here; my fear keeps me safe. I know now the smell of the beast, still mingling with my air. And I know to never let my arms go weak in the dance.



  1. November 4, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    […] darkness in the world, I can create a representation which will allow me to address it head-on. I’ve done this in the past without realizing it. We do it all the time when we demonize others: the human […]

  2. Eric M. said,

    November 8, 2013 at 9:28 am


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