It was one of those endless summer days that seemed to stretch out into next week, but that somehow still never lasted quite long enough.
“Daddy, do you think there are any bears in our woods?”
Charlie swung a stick back and forth to the cadence of his sing-song questions as he walked, topping wispy weeds and busting dry clods of dirt.
Carl frowned, trying to look worried.
“Gee, I don’t know, Charlie,” he said. “I did hear something growling when I came out to walk Biscuit last night.”
“Really?” The boy stopped and faced his father, eyes wide.
Carl smiled. “Probably just my stomach. I was pretty hungry after the day we had.”
“Oh, Dad!” Charlie rolled his his eyes, relieved. He turned back toward the path and continued walking.
Carl chuckled and tousled his son’s hair. He was still hungry … and tired. Moving to the country had been exhausting, but Carl hoped the farm would be good for Charlie — for all of them.
“What’s that?” Charlie shrieked as they crested a knoll in the rolling front pasture. He pointed off to their left.
There, under a sprawling mulberry tree, an old log jutted out from under the shade. Carl turned his head just in time to see a snake’s tail disappear into a crack in the sunlit end of the weathered wood.
He bit his upper lip, trying to keep a straight face.
“Well, Charlie, looks like this farm has a dragon.”
“A dragon? Really?”
Charlie was worried again, and starting to get scared.
Carl lowered his voice to a whisper. “Yep, a farm dragon — very rare. And magical.”
“Yep,” Carl grabbed Charlie’s hand and led him farther down the path. “We’re lucky, kiddo. Farm dragons protect their people from bad things and make their days happy and sunny.”
Charlie sounded hopeful, and Carl was starting to feel a little peppier. They were going to be happy there … he could see many sunny year ahead of them.
“Daddy said there was a dragon on this farm when he was a little boy. Is it still here?”
Cory’s tiny hand was sweaty wrapped around Carl’s finger. It felt just like Charlie’s.
Carl stopped and squatted down to look the boy in the eyes.
“You see that mulberry tree over there, Cory?” he asked.
“That’s where the dragon lives, and it’s watched over our family for many years.”
Carl nodded. “You bet.” He stood up and led the boy father down the path.
It was one of those endless summer days that seemed to stretch out into next week … the kind that never lasted long enough.