I awoke that morning, just like every other morning. Got out of bed, put my feet into my Birkenstocks, and shuffled blindly to the bathroom in search of my glasses. Picked up my toothbrush with one hand, toothpaste with the other and applied a dab, ready to brush. Only then did I look up and come face to face with it. Cold eyes dark and afire, flared nostrils smouldering at the end of a long-spiked snout, sharp bony pikes adorning an inky black scale of cheek and jawbone glaring at me. Startled, I jumped back. It backed up, revealing an armor-plated neck and muscular chest, the tips of its enormous black wings just visible in the mirror’s frame. I was more curious than frightened. I stared into the mirror, clearly enamoured with the reflection.
Draco accidentalis magnus. It, She possessed a terrifying beauty and an alluring aggression that broke through my morning trance. Even a single jolt of such primal energy held the potential to revitalize a stalled life. I felt an electrifying current snake up my spine. She was phenomenal. I wanted to touch her, to feel her solidity. The urge to reach through the mirror and take her snout between my hands, to stare deeply into her eyes and fuse with such potency unnerved me. The desire to press my forehead into hers, to inhale her smoky musk, then slowly brush my pillowy cheek against her iron scales roused me. Maybe she’d flick her coarse tongue at my nose, a dragon kiss, burning me to a crisp. She could swallow me whole, tear me to shreds, turn me to ashes. I was ready.
A dragon had been foretold in a dream. At the time, I was still trapped in the castle. My job back then was to take care of the mountains of garbage that were piled high around the base of the castle keep. Literally, lifetimes of junk and debris held the tower upright, entombing both the structure and occupants inside. At some point after mustering the courage to escape, I tried using the garbage as a scaffold of sorts, to descend the high walls into the unknown beyond. Armed guards prevented escape by the usual exits. I never got very far in my descent, however, because the garbage heap would begin to move and shift under my weight, creating deep fissures with every step. I realized then that trying to use other people’s garbage as a foothold for escape was a dangerous waste of time and energy. I’d either have to confront the castle guards or find another means to exit.
That was when I’d issued my clarion call and had been offered the dream. The dream hadn’t just foreshadowed any dragon. Back then, dragons were plentiful. This dragon was, in fact, Mater Draconum. None other than the Mother of Dragons was required for an entrapment as complex as my own. I was anticipating her arrival, just not in the bathroom mirror.
A dragon never hesitates or dissembles. She snorted invitationally, her eyes chthonic deities, drinking me in. She extended a front leg in my direction, beckoning with sharp claws. Then she lifted a hind leg, caressing the calf of the other with her bumpy instep. I gladly accepted her invitation to enter the dance.
I stepped forward and then to the left. The dragon sidled left. I sashayed to the right. The dragon heaved her serpentine girth to the right. I fanned the air, arms raised with flair. Suddenly taut metal sheaths sliced swaths of air, smashing the mirror’s frame. I let out a roar. Her leathery, scarred tongue blasted a stream of molten fire melting the glass and burning a hole right through the bathroom wall. I flashdanced in place, my feet pounding the floor. Great claws of ivory clacked against the bathroom tiles. Arms extended, I leaned into the mirror; she lifted her chest and leaned forward into the embrace. I rolled my hips in a sensual manner. Her tail like a shingled serpent swept across the floor, crashed into the dust covered walls, clouds of dry wall and old paint mixing with her smoky breath and blanketing us in ash.
We completely trashed the bathroom. I had been looking for an excuse to renovate it for years. The whole house in fact. Now this isn’t the part of the story where I wake up and realize it was all a dream, although dreams are the essence of this story. This encounter wasn’t a dream. It was as real for me as any of the objects our senses seemingly create out of the void in each arising moment. After years in the tower slinging garbage bags, I finally dug deep within myself and called forth nascent powers, that I was not then capable of embodying. That clarion call had, however, been the awakening of a telluric force with a life and will all its own. While tower existence had long since faded into the past, all I really accomplished during the ensuing lifetimes was to exchange one prison for another. The medieval castle became a back split in modern suburbia, the wasteland of dreams. I’d traded knights and courts for a husband, kids and 9 to 5. Mortgages and credit card debt replaced the castle guards. And while I wasn’t cleaning up everyone’s garbage anymore, I was still trapped in a midlife somnambulism that was slowly petrifying my vital force.
What I was about to discover is that a slumbering dragon will bide its time because it is outside of time and not bound by its laws. The dragon is the very thing we think we cannot do and so the sleeping basilisk only rouses when we are ready to raze a kingdom and lay waste to its codes.
Ripeness is all, says the dragon’s arrival. If you want to dance with a fire breather, you must not be afraid of the burn of her embrace. Sweaty, covered in ash and beginning to blister all over, I savoured the moment, excited that we were finally going to burn down the whole fucking house… and maybe I’d learn how to tango in the process.