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DRAGON
 

  Hei Ka Misi, Hei ta Bebi; 
  Fear for the young ones;
Hide from the Shaman
, 

Trust only the Dragon!  
                              
-William Wayne Oakland


INTRODUCTION
 
Elliot Finley was her name.  Who would have imagined, after three boys and eight years,
that the Finleys would be blessed with a girl?  When the Mrs. announced there would be 
another addition to the family, the family just assumed Elliot would be a boy, and had her
name all picked out.  
  

A few called her Ellie, but most everyone called her Elliot, which completely suited her tomboy
attitude.  Growing up with three older brothers made it necessary to be a little tough, for a prissy girl would
not have survived well in this family constellation. 
 
 
The boys spoiled her mostly, but occasionally
they took great pleasure in torturing her as well. 
One brother especially loved to pin her down and tickle her, and made her laugh so hard she’d cry. 
He had hoped that she would be bothered enough to go her own way while he entertained friends. 
Elliot, naïve as she was, did not get the message.  She thought it terribly amusing to spy on them,
as it helped to pass the time.  Being the youngest and only girl often got very lonely.   
  

After many hectic but happy years had passed, and the last of the three boys had left home
to join the service, Elliot suddenly found that she was the center of attention, and did not like it at all. 
To remedy this perplexing and uncomfortable situation, she would set off on long walks as far as possible
from the unaccustomed quiet of the house.
   During one of her late-afternoon escapes, she ventured into
a well-hidden trail just inside the thick forest at the end of the unpaved road that ran by their home.  She
made her way through its looming darkness to a slight clearing surrounded by lots of old, tall pine trees. 
A river ran through it, a fair volume of water rolling gently over the rounded boulders and small river rocks. 
The sun peeked through the treetops at long, misty angles, and the dusty rays sparkled and danced as they
landed on the water, then broke into fidgety bits and pieces of gold.  
  

Elliot squatted down at the river’s edge, arms wrapped around her knees, and stared into
the glistening waterway.  She listened to its soothing, gentle sound, which completely mesmerized her,
bringing her solace, even though there was nothing terribly wrong—except, perhaps, that it was the day
before the dreaded first day of school.  
  

She stood up, looked around the dense forest, and decided to meander along the riverbank, allowing
the smell of the warmed earth and tall grass to fill and comfort her.  She came to a large pond off to her right,
left behind by the tributary’s torrents, and leisurely explored its narrow strip of shoreline.  As she stooped to roll
up her jeans so that she could completely enjoy the coolness of the water, her gaze was drawn to a soft,
golden flicker below its surface.
  

Her hand disturbed the glassy pond as she reached into its mirrored reflection
of the trees, blue sky, and yellow puffy clouds behind her.  She tugged at the shiny object vigorously,
but the riverbed had a vise-like grip on it, and it seemed permanently wedged.  She was determined, though,
and continued to pry until the object finally broke free, causing her to flop backwards into the shallow pool.    
  

She raised her closed fist up to her face as sparkling water escaped through the cracks of her fingers,
and uncurled her tiny hand to reveal a shiny golden key centered in her palm.  Large droplets of water
adhered to its surface, and magnified glittery specks underneath.
  

She felt lucky as she hauled herself up from the spot where she had fallen, her clothes soaked and heavy
with dripping water.  The sun began its westerly descent, and the air cooled rapidly, so she began her trek home,
walking briskly with an occasional skip, amused and delighted by the mysterious item she tossed up and down in
her hand.  The metallic object seemed as though it might have an untold adventure in it. 
Elliot’s mind wandered until she reached her front doorstep, but the feeling of enchantment suddenly
drained away as she entered the painfully silent house.  
  

On the table at the foot of the staircase, she noticed a new backpack and supplies,
a reminder of the fearful following day.  Another school year would begin tomorrow,
and the thought of it unsettled her.  She already missed the morning ritual of the Finley kids scrambling
from the breakfast table, bounding into the family Classic Studebaker, and heading for school. Now she
had to go it alone, and stand with the other neighborhood kids that she hardly knew to wait for that nauseatingly
yellow bus.  
  

To relieve her sinking disposition, she untied a fine ribbon with an already existing house key from around her neck,
and slid the golden key onto it.  They clinked as she stuffed them back into her shirt; the cheerful sound lifted her
from the gloomy mood for which she had been heading only a moment ago.

  
“Elliot!  Dinner’s ready!” her mother announced from down the hall. 
Elliot stuck her nose up in the air, and
followed the delicious aroma of meatloaf sandwiches and smashed potatoes with gravy, her favorite!


FROM CHAPTER ONE
                                         
                                                                                                                  

   After being deposited on the curbside by the big yellow bus, Elliot raced across the front lawn of her house,
flew through the sunny entryway, and dropped her backpack to the floor at the base of the stairs.  She grabbed
a quick snack from the kitchen and started up to her room, but stopped midway when she caught a glimpse
of her father in the den off to her right.  She thought it very strange that he was home before her.  Slowly,
she backed down the few steps she had taken, removed the unbitten pop-tart from her opened mouth, and
entered the dim room.

Her father sat on the ottoman near the fireplace, staring into the small, crackling flame. 
then noticed two police officers that stood in the shadows behind him, filling out what appeared to be paperwork. 
She placed a hand on her father’s shoulder and asked, “Dad, what’s the matter?  Why are the police here?”

  
“It’s your mother, Elliot,” he said softly.  “She never showed up at work, and her car is still here.”  
He was obviously upset, but remained collected long enough to finish the interview.  From their line
of questioning, it almost seemed as if they suspected him.

                                     

elliotagainstthewall.jpg

FROM CHAPTER TWO

     Elliot's father insisted she go to school the next day to divert her attention from the
darkened isolation of the house. T
he bus deposited Elliot on the campus curbside.  She walked
slowly to the classroom, dragging her feet along with her backpack in tow.  As she neared her building,
she became concious of people staring. Flustered, she glared back and pressed on, angrily kicking rocks
from her path, sending them flying forward.  She didn't realize her long, dark brown hair was uncombed, her
clothes were wrinkled, and her shirt was mostly untucked.

     Crankier than ever, she stomped up the stairs, leaned her backpack against the wall, and slumped to the floor,
pulling the hood of her jacket over her head in an attempt to make the world go away. 

     "Hey, Elliot," came a soft voice from above.

     Elliot peered out, and squinted at a shadowy freckled face; the body to which it belonged eclipsed the
unbearable bright sun...