my body goes horizontal in the sky. My wings slice through the clouds, dissipating as my body plummets through them. With sudden speed, I bring my wings to my sides and spiral down, plummeting at breathtaking speeds. After a few thousand feet of dropping, my wings spring out to my sides, and my body jerks upwards. With a look upwards, I see my creation. The sun catches the clouds I’ve I’m flying through the sky, adrenaline coursing through my veins. With a slight weight change in my shoulders,shaped, and the form takes shape. Orange and pink light illuminates the shape of a massive creatures head, with large ears, and a ring adorning the muzzle. Above the creature's head is a halo, golden in light, brilliantly shining in contrast against the blue sky. A pang runs through my chest as I sit and stare, feeling homesick. Suddenly the wind picks up, and the cloud starts to change form. The ears I formed lay slicked back against the head, the ring on the muzzle breaks, and instead of pink and orange, the clouds turn a oily black. Suddenly the clouds come to life, and with a roar, the cloud shaped creature opens its maw, and swallows me whole….
With a start, I lurch awake, my heart beating far too fast. With a swift glance, I verify I am alone, and not actually in any danger. Why I had checked must have been an old instinct, drilled into me over years of action. I was always alone. Even when I found a creature in the vast wilderness, I was alone. They existed on another plane than I. I could walk right through them, as easy as walking through a wall of mist. These creatures could sense me, but never had we been able to interact. It was a lonesome existence.
I never knew how I came to be here. My earliest memory was waking up in a pile of shale rock. My wings were askew, and my head throbbed. Based on the damage around me, I could deduct that I had obviously fallen a great distance before crashing down. I had wandered around that area for years, searching for any evidence of who, or even WHAT, I was. I never found an answer, nor even a hint. I knew something was wrong with my memory. I had seen other creatures with their offspring, had even seen their birthing. Every creature had a parent, some kind of family that cared for it. When I thought back on this, I always felt a pang in my chest. I KNEW I had family out there, somewhere.
With heavy wings and a heavier heart, I continued my journey. There was no real destination in mind. Just the hope to find a place to call home. Here, in the sky, I was reminded of my dream. I shuddered at the memory of the black clouds swallowing me. With my heart a little lighter, I buffeted my wings upwards, slicing them into the clouds.Spinning, weaving, almost dancing, I created beautiful shapes in the sky. Clouds. One of the few solaces I found in life. Somehow, I knew I had once been tied to them. After a few hours of play, however, I knew I had to get going. With a sigh, I mustered a massive gust of wind, eradicating my work. They went back to shapeless white pillows, and I continued my journey.
When I wasn’t flying, there was the darkness. It was always there, always waiting for me to land. It would start with dark thoughts, the idea of being alone forever. From there, it always manifested into self doubt and worry. What if I was alone as a form of punishment? What if my family purposefully left me behind? My heart would drag at these thoughts, and if I didn’t take flight soon after, I would end up grounded for days to weeks on end. When this happened, my white fur would take on a gray, soot like color. The darkness affected my mood, mentality, and physical characteristics. The worse I had ever let it spread left me dappled in gray for weeks; it had taken many long flights and countless hours to return back to my normal color. For this reason, I generally avoided the ground. The sky was where I felt most at ease, almost at home.
The first human I ever came in contact with bewildered me to no end. Unlike animals, this creature had no sense of my presence. They were carrying a metal and wood rod, that smelled of oil and…. Something I was not familiar with. Out of curiosity, I followed this human for a few miles. It was well into the night before the human stopped walking, taking notice of a deer in the distance eating. With ears pricked forward, I was mesmerized as they leveled their stick up to the crook of their arm, took aim, and…. BOOM! It was like the sound of two massive boulders colliding. My fur stood straight up and I pranced in fear. The human crowed, walked over to the deer, and began to saw off the sticks on its head. Then, they simply left the now dead creature in the middle of the field, alone. This animal would never go home to its family. Disgust and a newfound distaste formed in my mind. What if it was a human's fault my family was gone?
After that incident, I followed humans a little more closely. They might hold the key to my existence. I found they varied in age, height, weight, and even color. Some had long manes, others kept theirs short. Young and old mixed together, and often they lived together in their own residence. The youngest ones were my favorite. They didn’t seem to harbor the hatred in their hearts that I could sense in some of the older ones. They were innocent and pure. Sometimes, it was almost like they could sense my presence. They would look curiously over their shoulder to where I stood, unable to see, but still able to feel. What curious little creatures they were.
I had been across vast oceans of water, leagues of sand, and miles of forest. Cities, towns, and countries. Still, no record or trace. I studied my reflection often in water. Large ears framed an elongated face. A barrel shaped body, with two massive wings, meant to keep me airborne. A long tail that could easily wrap around my body, making a pillow at night. Soft fur covered every inch of my body, and multitudes of feathers. No other animal had my exact features. There were beasts called horses, who often lived near man. They had the same facial and bodily features. But they lacked the wings that birds possessed, and the long tail that multitudes of animals shared.
My surprise came from a human, years and years later. I was in another country, once again with humans, where the young ones went daily. They called it school. Children gave high pitched screams as they chased each other across the playground, playing tag. I found it was rare the darkness could touch me here. It was almost like the childrens joy kept it at bay. I often took advantage of this, and would rest frequently in the nearest schoolground. I would lay under a tree and watch as the young ones would invent new games, play pretend, act like animals for fun. Often I would find myself humming a familiar tune. I had no idea where I learned it, but it would fill me with a feeling of comfort and love. As if someone had hummed it to me, when I was younger. Children would flock nearby, some sort of sixth sense drawing them near. They seemed to know that where I was, there was also safety. I would never allow harm to come to the young. They were innocent, utterly pure.
It was on a playground that I was first discovered by another being. A young girl, with dark eyes, and horn rimmed glasses She sat nearby at a table, concentrating on a piece of paper. Often, when other children played, she would sit and scribble. She had an aura about her that exuded wisdom beyond her years. Often, she would be seen staring into the distance, lost in thought. And always, at every given moment, she was scribbling away, drawing multitudes of beings. Dragons of every shade, unicorns, satyrs, and other magical beings. Things that she knew existed, even if she couldn’t see them. There was an unbreakable faith in her of magic being true, even if her eyes couldn’t perceive it. It was on a day like any other, when I found her gaze set directly on me. At first, I thought she was just staring off into the distance, like she often did. But when I twitched my ear, and her eyes followed, I knew she sensed me. Somehow, some WAY, she was seeing beyond. I froze, utterly stunned. Never before had another creature been so aware of me. With very slow motions, I walked over to where she sat. Still as a statue, she watched me approach, her eyes trying to capture as much detail as they could. When I stood right before her, she let out a small gasp of air. Tilting my head, I inspected her drawing. There, on the paper, was a picture of myself. Excitement filled my heart, and I was skipping across the schoolyard. She watched me, a small grin stretching across her face. When the bell was rung, I watched her return to the room where she learned from an older human. But often, her eyes would look out the window, watching me as I watched her.
I stayed at that school for a few months, after that. She drew me in every shape, color, and size. Big ears, small ears, short, tall, cloven feet, paws, and in every color of the rainbow. Pages upon pages of evidence that I truly existed. Every drawing filled me with joy. After a few days, I noticed her fingers were red and had small pinpricks in them. Was she drawing too much? Was the stick damaging her fingers? When her fingers seemed to especially bother her, there were bandages in place. I would gently lick her fingers, and although she couldn’t feel it, she laughed every time. The other children kept their distance from her, unsure of why she was laughing. Although young, she seemed to be outcasted even by the youngest humans. If only they saw the world the same way she did.
Then one day…. She didn’t show up. Another day passed, and another. After the seventh day, I grew worried, and I felt the long dreaded darkness began to creep up on me. Where was that little girl? Why was she not here? I searched the town for her, searching restaurants and stores. Nowhere did I find a trace. I felt the loneliness set back into my heart, weighing me down. But, true to her, I continued my search. It was in a hospital, four weeks later, that I found her.
I hadn’t even thought to check the hospital. It was a building I normally avoided. It smelled of metal, sickness, and death. But a nagging thought made me worry that maybe she would come here. Normally, I watched older people enter the doors, and sometimes never leave. This was often a place of sadness. I could feel the darkness here, nearly tangible, weighing most everyone down. Despite the risk of falling victim, I pursued the building, searching almost every room. There, I found her. Despite all the darkness surrounding her, her room alone glowed with happiness, her aura naturally negating the darkness. Across every surface, there were variations of myself, drawn in many scenarios and poses. When I stumbled into her room, she looked up heavily. Something had made this young one very sick, very fast. Nostrils flaring, I approached slowly, trying to sense any danger.
There was no physical danger. No bad person was harming her, and the darkness wasn’t weighing her down. After listening to the older humans, I heard the word “cancer” used often. This cancer was in her blood, attacking her from within. Devastated, I watched day by day as her little body shrunk into itself. No amount of licking her wounds would heal her. Her eyes constantly drooped, and her movements were sluggish. Her parents were constantly by her side, holding her hand. Never once was she ever alone.
After one particularly bad night, the young girl asked her mother a question. Confused, but willing, the mother left the hospital and returned shortly after. In her hands was a small, stuffed version of…. Me. The girl cuddled it near her, and quietly started to talk to, what seemed, herself. But she held my gaze while saying every word.
“You are so different and pretty. I wish…. I wish I had been able to draw you more. You have wings like a dragon, but the warm eyes of a horse. You are my favorite creature. I’ve seen something like you, before. I was real young, but I remember it. It fell from the sky, and crashed into my backyard. Mom and Dad… they thought it was my imagination. But I know what I saw. It had different colored fur, brown and black. But it had the same body you do. It flew off, before I could see it really well. But it's still out there, somewhere…. Probably searching, just like you….” her voice trailed off, weak and fragile.
After that evening, she fell into a deep sleep. She never did wake up. When her life left her, I watched the aura of the room slip away. A long, persistent beep filled the room, and everyone was running around, frantic. But she was gone. Her small, stuffed animal fell to the floor in all the chaos. Nobody noticed as I slowly walked over, and picked it up in my mouth. I left the hospital, after that. Like the deer that had died in the forest, she was gone. What was left was only a husk of her once radiant soul.
Sadness enveloped me, but at the same time, so did hope. The small stuffed animal rested easily in my paws as I took flight. The young girl had painstakingly sewed fabric together, to create a toy version of myself. This was physical evidence that I existed, that I mattered. And that somewhere out there, there was another Dutch Angel Dragon flying in the clouds.