The Memory of Imagination
I made my way along the dark corridor, trying to retrace the route the trees carried me. I ran down one dark hallway after another, only to hit dead ends.
I’m never gonna find my way.
I heard my Pa’s voice from long ago when I first met Max. “You’ll learn together, you’ll learn how to take care of each other.” And once again, I knew I should follow my heart. I ran back to the main hall and listened.
Faint at first, then growing louder, I heard Max flapping his wings. Just like when he would disappear into the sky learning to fly, I heard him long before I saw him. I followed the sound, and it led me to the cave.
I crawled through the once hidden passage. “I’m back,” I shouted. Everyone ran to surround me.
“We thought you were a goner,” El said.
“Yeah,” Cornelius added, “Bumbles and I thought it was curtains for you, and us.”
“Well, I’m not. Come on, we’re getting out of here.”
“How?” El asked.
“We’re going to walk out.”
They all looked at me like I was crazy.
“But how? What about Iris the Ice Queen?”
“She’s coming with us,” I said. By the looks on their face, they were sure I was nuts. I had to make them believe.
I moved to the center of the cave, staring at the ice wall, and waited.
Within moments the ice shattered. Frank, still disguised as a wolf, ran in. “They’re coming, are you ready?”
El stepped forward, followed by Cornelius and Bumbles. “Traitor,” she yelled, shaking her fist, “I’ll show you what we do to traitors.”
I moved in front of them. “Frank’s not a traitor, he’s a spy. A Christmas spy.” I spun around as the wolf faded away, replaced by a battered and bruised, but smiling, Frank.
“What?” El said. “He’s on our side?”
“I’ll explain later, the real show is about to start.”
The hole in the ice wall grew wider. The sound and fury of a raging wind flooded the cave. In a moment, Iris stood there glaring. The Elves and reindeer backed away. Max stood next to me. Frank held El and Cornelius back.
“This is for Joe and Max to do,” Frank said. “He has to do this alone.”
All around Iris stood her dead tree army. I took a step forward.
“Stay where you are or I’ll—”
“You’ll do nothing, Iris. You’re going to let us go and come with us to help with Santa and his deliveries.”
Iris let out a laugh, but the sound was different, hesitant, unsure. She kept watching me as I walked closer. I put out my hand.
Iris stared at me.
“Take my hand, Iris. I know you just want a friend.” As I said the words, her icy gray shade began to brighten. A rainbow of colors bubbled to the surface. The cold darkness in her heart fell away. The tree army turned back into a forest of green Christmas trees. The cave disappeared and stars filled the sky.
We were free.
Where once stood the Ice Queen, now stood Lady Iris and her unicorn.
Iris bowed. “How did you know? How did you know what to do?”
“I wasn’t sure at first, but when I said the word ‘believe’ in the cave, a rock broke free and fell. I knew then that powerful magic must have hidden what you truly were. I remember how my grandfather always told me to look for the good in everyone. No matter how hard it may be to see.”
I patted Max on the shoulder. “When I first met Max, I thought he didn’t like me. After some time together, that all changed. I realized you were all alone here and needed someone to see the good in you. So, I looked for it.”
Iris nodded. “Many years ago, a sorceress tried to make me take her to Santa’s hidden village. I refused. She cast a spell that could only be broken if I helped destroy Christmas or by someone who saw the good hidden inside me. Until now, I had lost any hope of ever being free, unless I did what she wanted.”
El stepped forward. “We better get going, it’s two days until Christmas, and we have a long journey ahead of us.”
“I can help with that,” Iris smiled and waved her hands. The unicorn rose into the air, flew a circle around the group, and lifted Cornelius, Bumbles, and the Elves. I climbed aboard Max, and the reindeer all lined up behind us with El on Rudy and Frank on Dasher.
As we took to the air, I saw the snow sparkle like diamonds and the lights from Santa’s Village brighten on the horizon.
Christmas was saved. I just hoped my mom hadn’t noticed I was gone.
“Joe,” my mom’s voice whispered in my ear. “wake up sleepy head it’s Christmas.”
I opened my eyes. I looked around the room, but Max was gone. “I, I, was flying on Max and we had to go to the North Pole.”
My mom smiled, “It was a dream, honey, just a dream. You were here all night. Now come on downstairs, we’re all waiting for you.”
A dream? Could it be it was just a dream? I looked around once more. Nothing had changed. No giant dragon sleeping in my room. No one staring at me from outside the window. I guess it was a dream…
The Rest of the Story
“Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream so shall you become.” James Allen
I gazed into the night sky, as I’d done all my long life, staring at the stars. Wondering, where does our time go?
A rustling of trees drew my attention. I saw nothing, at first, then I felt a warm breeze and heard the old familiar flutter of dragon wings.
Max settled in for a perfect landing. His colors still bright. His eyes still sparkling.
I struggled for words, “You’re real? It wasn’t a dream.”
Max smiled. “Of course, I am real. If you believe, anything is possible…and we all know you, more than most, believe.” A breeze picked up, swirling the newly fallen snow into the air. The sky was filled with Christmas Dragon teams.
El hovered in the midst, riding on Rudy. Cornelius and Frank sat astride their own reindeer. Bumbles sat atop the most massive dragon I’d ever imagined
Another dragon settled next to Max.
The familiar voice of my grandfather filled my ears and my heart. “I told you all you had to do was believe, Joe, didn’t I?”
“But how? How is this possible?” I asked. “I thought it was all just the memory of imagination.”
Pa smiled. “If one believes, one achieves. Even the impossible.”
Max bent his head down to me.
“Christmas lives in the hearts of children and the memories of all of us. We never left you. There was a time for you and me to be a team and a time for you to be on your own to raise your family. I knew, when the time was right, you would return to the world of your imagination and remember.”
Max handed me a small shiny diamond. “Hold the diamond tight in your hand.”
I squeezed my fingers together and felt the stone warming. I looked at Max. He nodded. Opening my fingers, I saw a small, wiggling dragon.
“What do I do now?”
“Now it is time for you to continue the legacy. Share the spirit of The Christmas Dragon. Then, in a couple of more years, you and I will fly off together just like we did all those years ago.”
I watched as the tiny dragon opened her eyes and flapped her tiny wings.
“Who’s that dragon you’re talking to, Grandpa?” The voice of my five-year-old granddaughter drew my attention. Max and the others faded, then vanished.
There was no fear in her eyes, just the innocent look of a child.
“You see him, Kelsey? Really see him?”
“I did,” she grinned, then pointed. “The dragon was right there. But now he’s gone.”
Glancing around to make sure no one else was around, I reached for her hand. “I have something for you…”
(I hope you all enjoyed the story of The Christmas Dragon. May this, and every Christmas, create memories that never leave you and always make you smile.)