dragon challenge header

not real, made up, purely intended for entertainment


by Terri

Lance was two the first time he saw his dragon.

The ball was red with yellow stars. It bounced across the grass, spinning past the shiny ants and yellow flowers that almost touched the sky. Lance giggled as he ran, chubby legs in blue shorts. Past mama’s washing -- spaceship pillow cases and huge white sheets -- past the swing with the yellow seat.

The ball hit the fence, and slipped underneath, through the hole left by Mr Rineton’s mean old dog. Lance slowed down, pressed his nose against the fence, looking at his ball which had stopped in the middle of the road.

Mama said he couldn’t go outside, but he was a big boy, and big boys could go get balls. On tiptoes, Lance pushed at the latch on the gate. It was big and heavy, and his fingers hurt when it finally pushed up. Tongue between his teeth he opened the gate.

It was quiet. No people, no cars, and his ball was just there. Lance stepped onto the road. A rush of wings, smokey breath, and enormous claws, latching on and pushing Lance aside as the wagon thundered past in a screech of wheels and horn.

Later, safe on his mama’s lap, hysterical tears soaked into her pretty yellow dress, Lance sucked his thumb and watched the dragon circle then settle in the corner of the room. His mama didn’t say a word, just dripped hot tears onto Lance’s hair, holding him tight. The dragon slept with fiery sleepy snores.

The dragon—Spot—stuck around.

He liked to sleep in Lance’s room, sprawled on the floor, claws twitching in the air. He was red, or yellow sometimes, and once he was pink with purple spots. Lance loved him and would lie against his side, running his fingers over the words in his story book, painstakingly sounding them out as Spot nodded his great head. He never said anything in return, but fire would dance across his teeth, and smoke would puff from his nose as Lance described far off lands.


When Lance was five he came running home, exploding into his room with a clatter of banging doors and bags against the floor. His teacher had given him a book about dragons that flew through the sky. They had scarlet wings and shining eyes. Excited, Lance tumbled over his words as he showed Spot the book, pointing out the biggest dragon that roared across the page.

Spot sighed, smouldering ashes on a hot summers day, and dipped his head. He looked sad and Lance ran his hand over Spot’s side, not understanding at all. The book dragons were amazing, awesome. Maybe Spot was smaller, and his eyes didn’t shine like jewels, and his wings were all bumpy. But who cared? He was still awesome, even better than the red power ranger and he was the bestest of all.


Spot would follow Lance to school. He flew behind the bus, swooping through the clouds and over the trees that rustled under his clawed feet. Lance would sit and talk to Alex, cartoons and teachers and did you go ride your bike last night? Shrill voices and feet thumping against the seat. He always knew Spot was there, would look out the window and see smoke trails in the air, a flash of colour and a sharp dragon smile.

During the day Spot would curl on the roof, head tucked in close, looking up as soon as Lance stepped outside.


Lance was kissed for the first time when he was eleven.

The downpour was sudden, and Lance ran for shelter, school bag bumping against his back, his best school shoes squeaking against the sodden sidewalk. Lucy was by his side, pink backpack in one hand as she shrieked and ran.

The bakery awning dripped and bulged under the weight of the storm, and they huddled together, surrounded by the heat of baking bread, the foggy window to their backs. A silent moment, an inquisitive look, and her fingers felt like ice against his arm. Lance forced himself to stay still, closing his eyes as she came close.

Her lips tasted like rain and her hair felt like rat’s tails against Lance’s face. It was awkward and exhilarating and he’d remember it forever. Rain and smoke. Spot’s tail waving as he watched, steam rising from dark tinged scales.


The second kiss was with Sean.

Lance was thirteen and going to fly to space one day. Walk on the moon, miles above his family who’d wait far below. Wife, children, dogs and that white picket fence. Except those dreams were fictional, like the stories of those magnificent dragons from so long ago.

Reality was Spot, and Lance’s male best friend, hands spread across open math books. Getting closer, thigh to thigh, tentative touches over exposed skin. Heart hammering when his mama yelled up the stairs, asking if they wanted snacks.

Later Lance lay against Spot’s side. Fingers pressed against his scales, he held on, warm breath against his neck. Comfort when he was afraid of a future that continued to change.


Lance was supposed to be studying, but Spot was a distraction, unable to stay still. He shuffled in the corner of the bedroom, scales bright blue and head cocked to the side, flying into the air at the sound of the phone. The light shade swung crazily, knocked by a red tipped wing and Lance reached up for it, steadying with his hand.

Spot was twisting in the air when mama knocked on the door. At the yelled come in she entered the room, solemn expression and flowered apron wrapped around her waist. She looked at Lance, and he could see conflict in her eyes, thoughts about unknown situations circling as she twisted her wedding band round her finger.

A snuffled sound, a sharp snout against his palm, and Spot was under Lance’s hand. Leaning against his leg, solid and vibrating with life as mama sat on the bed, explaining about a group who wanted him to join.

It meant leaving home, school, his friends, and smoke tickled through his fingers like escaping dreams. Lance clasped his hand.

He wanted this, and Spot roared, mouth wide as Lance hugged his mom, holding her tight as she kissed his cheek, accepting his decision with a resigned smile.


Spot clung to the roof of the car as they travelled, claws curled through the open windows. As Lance looked behind, he could see a purple tipped tail flicked through the air, visual comfort as they drove toward his possible new life.

Their appointment was at eleven. Breathing deep as he stepped from the car, Lance tried to push past the nerves that had settled in the pit of his stomach, fear of the future and wanting this so much.

A gust of warmth against his cheek, flames caressing his skin, and Spot exploded into flight. Circling up high in tight circles as Lance gathered his bag and entered the building with the echoes of Spot’s roaring.

It was deserted inside, lonely corridors stretching off on all sides. Unsure, Lance looked at his mama who was unfolding a piece of paper. Directions that they’d both checked multiple times. She checked again, then shrugged her purse higher onto her shoulder, and moved toward the nearest door. Her heels clattered against the floor, each click accompanied by two snicks of Spot’s claws.

The door opened before mama could reach it, bursting open and letting through an avalanche of laughing men. They landed in a scuffling heap, kicking legs and arms and a black sneakered foot just missed connecting with Spot’s nose. Lance stepped back from the flailing limbs, watching as they untangled and someone held out a hand.

Spot’s flames shot along the ceiling that day. Joy shown in fiery orange waves.


Sharing a house was an endless series of discoveries.

Within days Lance discovered that sleeping while Chris was awake could be a bad thing, which in turn led to the discovery that electric blue eyeshadow and red lipstick weren’t Lance’s colours at all. Locked in the bathroom, Lance looked at his face, mussed up make-up that showed how he truly belonged. Wetting his sponge he scrubbed at his face and pointedly kept his back to the toilet where Spot was balanced on the bowl. It was bad enough being pranked like this; gleaming eyes, rainbow scales and snuffled dragon laughter was the last straw.

He discovered that Justin loved the mornings where he could relax in old clothes. Cross-legged on the living room floor, cereal bowl cradled on his lap, he’d watch re runs, focussed on road runner and Garfield, childish shows that took no thinking at all. Lance would curl on the sofa and eat toast. Spot lying in the square of sunlight as Justin laughed and sprayed crumbs and milk across the room, able to be a kid for a few precious hours.

Joey liked to talk, and Lance would listen, mug cradled in his hands. They talked about work and dreams. How things should be and why they’d never be that way. Joey knew everyone and everything, and Lance loved to be by his side, friendship strengthening over mugs of coffee.

Within a few weeks Lance discovered that JC liked girls. A lot. Lance tried to forget that discovery, hiding in his room with Spot at his side. Pushing past memories of naked skin, shocked eyes and burning embarrassment. It was easier that way.

One of the most important discoveries was also one of the most anti climatic of all. Everything seemed hyper focussed, colours too bright, sounds too loud as Lance sat in his room. Steam rolled across his legs, Spot’s head at his feet, and Lance forced himself to stand.

They were all downstairs, a noisy rabble around the table, wolfing down the food that Lynn pushed their way. Lance stood in the doorway, and took a stumbling step forward when a snout pressed in the small of his back.

Stuttering starts, and eventually Lance had their attention. Acid crawling his throat as he confessed to liking boys. He expected surprise, questions or at worst, hostility. Never laughter and rolling eyes, this feeling of immediate acceptance, pulled into his place by Joey, a heaped plate pushed his way. Lance thought maybe here being different meant nothing at all.


Lance always knew when Lou was mentioned, Spot bristled, steam billowing from his nose. Blood red scales, bared teeth and wings pointed up high. Usually Lance would ignore him, they needed Lou, he was helping them succeed. Today he wanted to wrap himself in Spot’s anger, shrug it around himself to ward of the chill of exhaustion that haunted his every move. Each step was an effort, burning chest and an awareness that something was wrong, but knowing the only thing he could do was go on.

Propped against a wall, Lance concentrated on staying upright, forcing his legs to remain locked in place. His knees trembled, and he knew one slip would take down the rest of his body like a house of cards. He hung on, leaned against Joey as they started their day. Practice and appearances, huge blocks of time where all they could do was work.

Arrive at another building, one foot in front of the other. Head down, keep walking, he didn’t know where. Concerned looks and someone always there, until they weren’t and Lance finally lost his hold, folding ungracefully to the floor.

In the falling darkness he saw Spot scream, claws extended, flying to the others who walked ahead. He swooped and they brushed at their hair, turned, and...

Lance saw no more.


Some success was inevitable, but none of them knew it would be like this.

It meant proving them all wrong, but especially Lou, always Lou, each sale, each record yet another strike against his name. Lance stood with the others, heart racing as they waited. Each second seemed like a minute, and he watched Chris pace, Justin bite at his thumb. Joey, cell phone in hand and talking to Kelly, his other arm around JC who stood frozen, carved in place as they listened to the album chart be counted down.

The numbers were amazing, the number one spot hoped for but never completely expected, but the volume! Lance laughed as Joey lifted him in his arms, twisting them around as Kelly yelled over the phone.

Noise and laughter and five friends who’d made it. Lance reached out and hung on as they clung together. Arms and hands and cheek to cheek, his friends, his brothers, he loved them all.

Later, and private celebrations turned to public reward. Champagne corks popped as Lance held out his glass, drinking as bubbles popped against his nose. Accepting congratulations he circulated the room, poised and comfortable at all times. He smiled when he saw Spot perched on an ice sculpture, claws digging into Justin’s frosty fro. He was golden today, eyes bright and chest puffed with pride, always watching as Lance passed by.

Lance saw the blurred edges, the see through skin. Knew what was happening even as he blamed the champagne.


The thing with Justin was new, but it felt like they’d been together forever.

Lance lay back on his bed, the covers pushed to the bottom, cotton bunched at his ankles. He felt heavy and languid, slow movements and lazy kisses as day turned into night, red-gold sunshine flooding the room. Justin reclined on one elbow, curved lines and defined, trailing his fingers over Lance’s skin. Boldly touching, up the rib cage, across the hollow of neck, tracing Lance’s smile.

Spot was a wisp of colour, sharp teeth and shining scales. He flew in the air, and Lance watched as he hovered over the bed, trailing a wing over Justin’s shoulder. He landed on Lance’s chest, warmth and comfort, smoke and steam, bent his head forward in one last loving bow. Blew fiery breath against Lance’s cheek, dragon kisses as Spot faded away.

Lance was twenty-one when he last saw his dragon.


Back to Dragon Index
Back to Popslash Index