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Theo and the Dragon

How do you sleep with a dragon at the foot of your bed?

Theo can't. And he needs to find a solution to get rid of the dragon without putting himself in danger.

A story of fear and hope and song.

Theo couldn’t sleep. Everything was peaceful in the house, his curtains were closed, his night light was on, there were no noises to disturb him. But he couldn’t sleep. He opened his eyes and pulled the blanket back to get up and grab a glass of water. He froze. There was a dragon at the foot of his bed.

How did the dragon get in? He didn’t know. He had more pressing worries in mind, such as what to do about the dragon at the foot of his bed.

It was a big dragon. Its scales a dark red, with a long snout and two fiery orange horns on its head. It was beautiful, and yet it was terrifying. Its maw was slightly open and Theo could see a faint glow from inside it, like a fire almost extinct. Almost.

“Excuse me, mister dragon”, Theo asked in a small voice. “What are you doing in my room?”

“Watching you”, said the dragon. “Go back to sleep.”

But Theo couldn’t sleep, and he wanted a glass of water. Besides, this was his room and the dragon had no reason to be in it.

Theo gathered his courage and said, “mister Dragon, I can’t sleep with you watching me. If you tell me what you want maybe I can help you.”

But the dragon didn’t want help, and answered, “if your feet touch the ground I will hit you. If you call for help I will burn you. If you harm me I will eat you. Go back to sleep little boy, I will watch over you.”

Theo laid back down and under the blanket. He had to do something, but what? He couldn’t run away or he’d be eaten. He couldn’t defend himself or he’d be burned. He couldn’t call for his parents or he’d be beaten. There had to be a solution.

He wanted to toss and turn, but was too afraid of what the dragon would do. Lying as still as he could, Theo started thinking. What could he do?

He thought of going out through the window, but the dragon was in the way. He couldn’t jump over it.

He thought of grabbing his harmonica and playing it very loud, but it would hurt the dragon’s ears. Dragons are sensitive to shrill sounds.

He thought of reaching for the baby phone that his parents never removed from his room. But that would be calling for help.

He thought of a million things he couldn’t do, and started to think there was no way to get rid of that dragon. Suddenly he remembered that time his dad had been afraid. He hadn’t shouted or screamed or run. He had sung. With a deep, broken voice and tears running down his cheeks, his dad has poured his fear into a song and made it beautiful.

Maybe Theo could do that too, and make the dragon realise how scary this all was.

Theo stood up on his bed, leaned against the wall, and closed his eyes. He was going to improvise, and to dig deep into his fear. He couldn’t do that while looking at the dragon.

He could feel the beast’s curious gaze on him, could feel it prepare to react if Theo broke the rules. He drew a shaky breath, let it out slowly to calm his nerves, drew another one and opened his mouth. 

With his lowest deepest voice, Theo sang with all his heart.

He sang his fear and the dragon’s threats. He sang his lack of understanding. He asked the empty night how the dragon had come in. He sang his hopes of rescue, carefully not asking for it.

His bedroom window was open, and the neighbours heard Theo’s song. They gathered and wondered what they could do without putting him in danger. They thought and questioned and pondered, until Theo’s song ended in almost silent sobs.

His voice was cracking, his throat was raw, his hope was dwindling. Theo couldn’t sing anymore. He broke into tears, trying his best not to be too loud so as not to hurt the dragon’s ears.

And from his window came the sound of his neighbours chanting. They had finally understood what they could do to help. They sang, like Theo had, about fears and hopes, dreams and questions, bewilderment and sleep. And the dragon roared in defiance.

Theo flinched, he was even more scared than before. But the voices of his helpers still rang strong, even stronger now that the dragon was roaring. Theo gathered his meagre strength and sang again, his voice cracking, his heart bursting. He joined the choir and then lead it, drowning out the dragon’s roars.

Theo’s parents were singing too, from behind his bedroom door. They lifted his voice. Harmonized. And in the song they put their pride in their little boy’s courage.

And with the beauty of a hundred voices, under the weight of hope and love, the dragon dissolved into nothing.

Theo could now sleep, safe in the knowledge that he was not alone, and should the dragon return, it could be defeated by unity and a song.