Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Blue Lake

I wrote the following story while still in college, almost 25 years ago, for a children's literature class I was taking.  As all good children's stories should have, there is a moral to the story which is hopefully presented in a simplistic way via likable characters that a child can relate to.  If you are a parent or grandparent, or anyone who reads to children and you would like to share this story, feel free.

                                                                  The Blue Lake

Once upon a time there were three young children, Manny, Edith and Fred. They lived in a poor village with their parents who loved them very much, and although the family did not have many possessions, they were very happy.

Everyday, the children played with the other boys and girls of the village, while their father worked in the woods with the other men, cutting down trees and carrying the wood back to the village. Sometimes their father saved small bits of wood and made little toys for the children to play with and share.

It so happened that in these woods there lived a fearsome dragon. It was fifteen feet tall and had two heads, each with glittering, razor-sharp rows of teeth. It also had a short, spiked tail, and large scaly hands and feet, each with long claws that could fell a tree in one swoop. Everyone in the village was afraid of this dragon, and there were many stories of people carried away by the loathsome creature, never to be seen again.

One sunshiny day, the children were playing tag in the village paths when the men came shouting and running from the woods.

“Help!” they cried and “it’s terrible, oh my!” All the children scurried home fearing the dragon would appear at any moment. When Manny, Edith, and Fred arrived at their house, they found their mother weeping by the window, gazing tearfully towards the woods. Two of the town’s elders were with her. They patted the children on their heads, and left with downcast eyes and saddened faces.

“Mother, mother, what’s wrong?” cried Edith. The children fell at their mother’s feet and she told them that the evil dragon had surprised the men at work, and captured their father in one of its enormous hands. Some of the men tried to rescue him, but the dragon was just too big and powerful to catch and subdue. The dreadful dragon escaped deep into the woods, still clutching the children’s father. They joined their mother in tears and cried themselves to sleep in their sadness.

When the sun arose the next day, the world looked brighter and the children were filled with hope.

“I’ll find that dragon’s lair and slay him”, declared Manny. So, off he went to the village blacksmith where he got a glorious sword and shield. Then he led Edith and Fred into the woods to find the dragon. After a few hours of searching, they spotted the dragon eating the leaves of tress and small bushes. Stealthily, they followed it to its cave near a beautiful, blue lake. When the dragon went inside the cave, Manny cautiously crept up to the entrance and surprised the dragon when it came out. With a strength fueled by his love for this father, Manny fought the dragon, stabbing with lightning speed and blocking the dragon’s attacks with his unbreakable shield. But the dragon’s skin was too thick for even Manny’s sword, and he finally returned to Edith and Fred, exhausted and tearful.

Back at the village, the children told their mother of the cave and Manny’s heroic but futile efforts, and they all cried themselves to sleep.

The next day dawned clear and crisp, and again brought hope to the family.

“I’ll go to the cave and I’ll trick the dragon”, vowed Edith. So off she went to the village shaman where she learned a brilliant trick to fool the dragon. This time, the children traveled directly to the dragon’s cave by the glass-smooth lake, and set their trap by the entrance. When the dragon came out, it stepped right into the trap, and was caught by one of its green, scaly feet. Joyfully, the children rushed into the cave to free their father but he was not to be found. The dragon had a trick of its own, and had hidden the man behind a huge rock where he couldn’t see or hear the children, nor they him. The children hurried out of the cave for the dragon had almost chewed through the thick rope holding his leg.

Back at the village, they told their mother of the successful trap but their failure to find their father. They agreed he must surely have been eaten, and cried themselves to sleep once again.

The third day was even more beautiful than the two before. The air brought pure delight with every breath and the sun enlivened everything it touched.

But only Fred noticed the glory of the new day. The rest of the family could only see the image of their father, and the horrible dragon that killed him. So Fred went into the woods alone, and found the cave by the clear, blue lake. And there, staring at its image in the lake, sat the dragon, crying large, blue tears into the water. Unafraid, Fred walked up beside it and patted one of its scaly feet.

“Why are you crying?” he asked.

“I am so lonely,” began the dragon. “Whenever I meet the village men in the woods, they run and scream and try to hurt me with their swords and stones. They are afraid of me because I am so big and ugly. Sometimes I manage to catch one before he runs away and I bring him back to my cave. I feed him and talk to him but none ever respond. Usually they simply die of fright.”

More huge, blue tears rolled from the dragon’s four eyes and into the lake. Fred also began to cry, partly because he now knew his father was certainly dead, and partly out of sympathy for the dragon.

“But why are you crying?” asked the dragon.

Fred recounted the story of the last few days, tearfully ending with the death of his father.

“But wait,” countered the dragon. “Your father is not dead, just hidden behind a stone in my cave.”

Well, Fred’s face lit up immediately and he hugged the dragon’s foot as hard as he could. The dragon gently picked him up, and carried him into the cave where he rolled back the rock and revealed Fred’s father. They hugged and kissed and thanked the dragon for his kindness. Then they all went back to the village where they lived happily ever after, especially the dragon, who spent his time helping the men cut trees in the woods and playing tag with the children.

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