I spread my arms, wide, and roar. Ian scrunches his shoulders and giggles, ‘No, dragon!’ He takes my hand and pulls me toward the jungle-gym.
He pushes me up the stairs, to the top of the slides. ‘That slide, dragon. Go! Go! Go, dragon!’ Ian sits on the slide next to mine, and grunts as he tries to shove me. I grin, and we both slide, side-by-side. My feet catch me at the bottom, Ian’s weight carries him over the edge, and he lands in a pile of laughs. He stands, trips, stands to his feet. ‘Again, dragon! Again!’
Later, Ian sits in the woodchips covering the playground, takes a handful, and pretends to eat. He grabs another handful and turns toward me. ‘Dragon food! Eat! Food, dragon!’ Well, something has to keep my fire going.
Ian isn’t satisfied with our little picnic, so he moves us to the gazebo where he loads the park-bench ‘tables’ with sticks, leaves, and an ever-fresh supply of woodchips. I have no idea what he sees, but it looks delicious.
Ian tells me that he’s going to get a soda. ‘Wait here,’ he tells me. He walks three feet, turns, and says, ‘Stay there,’ this time with the added emphasis of a waggling finger. Chagrined, I say, ‘Okay, okay,’ and am delighted when Ian hands me a stickfull of coffee.
I remember having an imagination. I remember riding my bicycle around an abandonded schoolyard, chasing secret agents and knights…or running from them. I remember the sense of urgency I felt when my friends and I built a fort of new-fallen snow, our hands shaking, not with cold, but with fright. ‘Hurry, hurry! They’re almost here!’ There was always an army of fanged and hairy somethings just on the horizon.
But now I’m quite sure that I don’t know any secret agents, and the only fanged creature I’ve seen lately is our cat, Neville, who’s afraid of his own tail. Ian offers me a cup of steaming coffee, and I receive a handful of wood and dirt.
When did I learn that I was pretending? How can I forget?