“The Man and His Dragon”: Short Story by Magda Olchawska
Since Pat was a small child, he knew he was going to be a writer. On a regular basis, he used to throw “tell a story” parties. Everyone who came to the party had to bring a story to tell. His friends just loved it.
Until Pat was 12 years old, he lived with his parents in London, which was his favourite place on earth.
Unfortunately for Pat, his parents didn’t think so, and one day completely out of the blue they decided to leave London and go and find their happiness in the countryside.
Pat’s life changed utterly. There was no more going to the cinema or theatre any time he wanted, no more “tell a story” parties. But the worst thing of all was to change schools. His new school turned out to be terrifying in every possible way.
His narrow-minded teachers couldn’t understand his commitment to writing. He was never encouraged to pursue his passion.
Often he was put down or humiliated by his teachers because of the hierarchy system that was extensively used at this particular school. The essential pupils were the children of the teachers, and then the children of so-called “important people” from the village, then children with wealthy parents and at the very end was Pat who belonged to none of the above categories.
He was often bullied by his new schoolmates because of how he looked. They called him fat, laughed at his surname or his cheap clothes.
His parents turned out to be everything but supportive and sadly thought that he was just a spoiled brat who couldn’t appreciate what his parents were doing for him. But according to Pat, his parents weren’t kind or sweet, they were trying to ruin his life.
All these unpleasant experiences he had while living in the countryside scarred him for life and took most of his confidence, which he has never been to rebuild afterwards entirely.
After five years of living “in hell,” he finally managed to get out of his parent’s house and begin a new chapter of his life.
Since he left home at the age of 18, he managed to put himself through university and find, according to everyone, a fantastic job in advertising.
Because of his insecurity, he wanted people to admire him, and he needed to prove to everyone that he was talented and capable of doing great things in life. That is why he worked hard and worked a lot.
He never cared much for his private life and found it difficult to sustain any lasting relationship. He just wasn’t able to commit the way women wanted him to commit.
Of course, he has managed to prove himself on countless occasions, had plenty of money and a very comfortable life.
But deep down in his heart, he knew it wasn’t what he wanted. All the money and extravagant lifestyle had nothing to do with his dreams.
Each day he was becoming more and more disappointed with his life choices. But the thought that he would have to change his life terrified him more than anything else. Somehow he just couldn’t imagine dropping everything and starting all over again.
The lowest he felt was at weddings, and this year he seemed to be going to more weddings than any previous year. The next upcoming wedding, which of course he was dreading, was taking place in North Yorkshire.
The journey up north was far too long even though his mind kept him occupied for most of the trip, coming up with the ridiculous excuses and ideas to justify his stagnation. When Pat finally got to the hotel where the wedding was taking place, he couldn’t believe how beautiful and magical the surrounding area was.
The wedding ceremony and reception were set on the hills overlooking the North Yorkshire Moors.
Instead of concentrating on the ceremony, Pat was admiring the breathtaking views, and magically even his brain started to calm down slowly.
Pat politely sat throughout the whole reception and even managed to have a small talk with a woman his friends were trying to set him up with.
When the dinner was finally over, and people started dancing and drinking a lot, Pat disappeared into the wilderness of the North Yorkshire Moors. He walked and walked for ages admiring the setting sun, the moors, the flowers and the stars. He felt great.
Since his mind stopped talking he could finally see how sad his life was. At that moment he decided to change his life and fight for his dreams. To complete the deal he made with himself; he picked up a perfectly rounded brown pebble. The stone was meant to remind him of the promise he made to himself.
At work on Monday Pat was told that a very important client from a very important international corporation specifically asked for him to work on his new advertising campaign. Pat believed that he had no other choice agreed to do the job.
Once again Pat’s life became joyless, and the dreams his heart had set on started fading away.
Of course, Pat was busy with the project and failed to notice that the stone he brought back with him from the moors became unnaturally large.
One evening when he got back home exhausted from yet another long day at the office, all the lights in his flat were on, and some horrible noise seemed to be coming from inside.
Pat instantly thought that someone must have broken in, but there were no signs of burglary anywhere. The only unusual thing he noticed were bits and pieces of egg-shell all over the living room.
Pat decided to follow the horrible noise which led him to the kitchen where he found something orange with green spots all over its skin sitting in front of the fridge and eating loudly.
Pat, thinking he was going crazy, slowly retreated to the living room hoping that the monster would disappear. However, after a very long time, the beast emerged from the kitchen picking his teeth and burping.
„You need to get some more food, mate. The fridge is empty.“ said the creature almost giving Pat a heart attack. It’s not only that Pat had a monster in his flat. The monster was talking as well.
„Don’t tell me you‘ve never seen a dragon before“ continued the dragon.
„No“ replied Pat.
„Well“ carried on the dragon while making himself comfortable on one of the armchairs, which was way too small for his huge tail and fat bum.“Why I’m not surprised, you don’t know who I am. It seems that over the years you humans have lost the ability to see many things and talk to many creatures such as dragons and other beings that are much less significant than we are, of course.“
„What are you?“ Pat stumbled out.
„I‘ve already told you. I’m your dragon! You need to listen more carefully, mate.“ said the dragon.
„My dragon?“ asked Pat sounding flabbergasted.
„I hate this part, every time, every single time. I have to explain myself and justify my existence. So please listen carefully. I’m not going to repeat myself. Each person has a dragon that helps him or her to fulfil their dreams. Would you mind if I had some wine? I haven‘t had any alcohol for ages. I was stuck in this bloody stone for ages.“
„Red, white, pink, green, blue, any wine would do.“
Pat poured himself one glass and was about to pour another glass when the dragon snatched the bottle from Pat’s hand and… the rest of the wine was gone in no time at all.
„As I was saying“ the dragon paused to burp loudly „oh I’m sorry, as I was saying I’m going to help you.“
„How did you even get here?“ asked Pat who started coming around to the idea that he was overworked and tired and as a result was going crazy.
„You brought me here.“ answered the dragon.
„But how?“ asked Pat.
„Don’t you remember. At the moors, you made a promise. And you picked up a stone to remind you about that promise. The promise that you were going to follow your dreams, Blah Blah Blah.“
Pat shook his head in denial.
„Well, you people are unbelievable. Anyway, it was me that you picked up. I was in that perfectly rounded stone. From now on I’ll keep an eye or even two on you. In other words, I’m going to make sure that you fulfil the promise you made.“ said the dragon. Pat was looking away trying to remember how he felt during that beautiful evening.
„I’m giving you an opportunity to follow your dreams, man. Don’t waste it.“ finished the dragon.
By now the dragon was a little bit bored of sitting down and decided to stroll around the living room. He kept touching and picking up everything that was electrical which in his large and clumsy claws kept breaking into pieces. Pat didn’t pay much attention to what the dragon was doing. His mind was hard at work imagining life without the corporation.
„Well, are you ready?“ asked the dragon after breaking almost everything he could find on his way.
„Ready for what?“ asked Pat.
„Oh, don’t tell me you are one of those people who need to be told everything and walked through every single step. I thought that you were more clever.“ teased the dragon.
„I am clever.“ Pat got a bit offended by the dragon‘s suggestion that he wasn’t. His intelligence was all he had.
„If you were clever you would be packing your stuff up and getting ready to go and fulfil your dreams.“ said the dragon.
„I’m not going anywhere. I’m too busy. I’ve got this huge project I’m working on. I’ve got deadlines, I can’t drop my life just like that.“ protested Pat.
„Well, that is your choice, but as far as I’m concerned, things aren’t that pretty for you. You are stuck in a job that isn’t much fun and isn’t challenging for you any longer. You keep yourself busy, so you don’t think about the miserable life you have. And most of all you are lonely since you have no girlfriend or boyfriend to share your life with.“
„Girlfriend,“ emphasised Pat.
„Well, to sum up, your life is already terrible. So just imagine how bad it can get. If I were you, I would take my help free of charge.“ said the dragon.
„How are you planning on helping me then?“ asked Pat.
„I have my ways. I am a dragon after all.“ said the dragon smiling.
„But how?.“ Pat thought to himself.
„Make you realise that happiness is what you have been looking for.“ answered the dragon and started looking for something else to do since he was already bored silly.
Pat was awake the whole night long thinking about his life, about the dragon, about his friends, about money and about dreams he never had the time to follow.
In the morning he called work taking all of his outstanding holidays off at once and emailed his boss, handing in his notice. He promised to finish the advertising campaign he was working on but only working from home. His boss agreed to everything Pat wanted since he hoped that when the tiredness wore off, Pat would be willing to rejoin the company.
Of course Pat had no intention of returning anywhere. He packed his bags and many many boxes of stuff, rented his beautiful flat in Central London and bought a house in Richmond.
The dragon lives in Pat’s basement and has a considerable fridge always stuffed with lots and lots of food and a few TV’s which he keeps breaking from time to time. He still keeps his huge eyes on Pat just in case Pat isn‘t putting enough work into his new life.
But Pat wouldn’t change his life for anything else now. His new life is just like a dream. It‘s everything he could have wanted it to be.