October 22, 2018

Pencil illustration of Melissa

Melissa’s story

Melissa lives in a large fine house that rises/floats/stands above the clouds. She has lovely parents and a lovely life.

Her life is delightful, but not perfect.

You see, a very tall wall had to be built to go all around the house, it looks like an old fashioned castle. The wall is so tall that no one knows its true height, but we know that it’s wide enough for two people to walk side by side along the top. 

 Why does her family have such a big, tall wall?

 The answer is to protect their home and everyone inside from cloud dragons!

Guards walk along the top of the wall at all hours of the day and night. Most importantly, their job is to look out for any cloud dragons approaching. If they see just one, they sound the alarm!

But let’s talk about Melissa. She is a thinker and a reader. Her thoughts are endless—a continuous stream of thinking all day, even all night. Melissa’s thoughts are big, bright and wonderful.

When Melissa looks over the wall, she mainly sees clouds, light puffy billowing clouds. That is to be expected when you live above the clouds. Nevertheless, on occasion, the sky clears. If she squints her eyes to focus while looking down, she can see land. In addition to some soft, rolling hills, Melissa has also spotted large lakes, clusters of woods, and even narrow paths.

 Amazingly, with all that she has seen, Melissa has never really left her home. Instead, she quite often takes little trips … in her imagination. During the many travels that happen in her mind, she sees all the things that she has read about.

 That’s the secret about Melissa and her family: They are mind travelers.

Aside from dealing with cloud dragons, mind travelers enjoy such beautifully relaxed lives. Without any effort, at any given time, they can choose where they want to be, even though they are sort of always in their house above the clouds.

 Oh, and you should understand just what clouds dragons are to imagine what Melissa’s life is like. Well, they are quite big—no, huge is a better description—and they are called cloud dragons because they really are made from clouds. One minute, they are light and fluffy. Another minute, they turn cold and watery. Sometimes—and this is when they become scary—they shoot lightning bolts! That’s why you don’t want them inside your home! It is not that they mean to be bad; it is just that bad things happen when they arrive. 

One time, when the guards fell asleep, a cloud dragon got over the wall and managed to get his giant head through a window that was open just a bit open. Yes, the dragon was huge, but slipping through the tiniest cracks was easy for a creature made of clouds. Once inside, the dragon’s entire body reformed to its original shape. His feet are three times the size of a diner plate. His tale is as long as five bicycles. His head is five times larger than a horse’s head.

 The biggest problem with cloud dragons is that they have no sense. They don’t think, oh, let’s be careful not to knock over this lamp or we must be gentle with this table. No, they just go along as they please and make a mess of everything! Within minutes after one gets inside, all you own will be broken! Indeed, if you let one cloud dragon step into your entry hall, you might as well open your doors to a herd of busy bulls and invite them to run through every room!

Curiously, for some reason, cloud dragons especially love sneaking through the cracks to get inside Melissa’s house!


Part 2  A cloud dragon in the house

Melissa lay on her bed, staring up toward the ceiling. It was a boring day and she had nothing to do. So when a loud bang came from the dining room, she was instantly startled and immediately jumped out of her bed. She heard a terrible clatter and then a piercing shriek from her mother.

The day was no longer boring!

Melissa ran down the hall and pushed open the double doors to the dining room. Her mother was frantically shouting orders to the servants to close all the windows and she was waving a broom in the air trying to herd a cloud dragon. A vase went flying and crashed to the ground as the cloud dragon’s tail swished across the room.

Melissa’s mother carried on screaming and waving her broom but that only added to the chaos. Chairs were knocked over, puddles of water soaked into the carpet, and the cloud dragon darted around the room in a desperate attempt to avoid being hit by the broom. “Close the doors!” barked Melissa’s mother. “Don’t let it out! It will destroy the house!”

The servants ran around trying to look like they were helping, but really all they wanted was to escape!

Melissa surveyed the scene in a surprisingly detached manner. This cloud dragon was actually quite charming, she thought. It had transformed from a cloud into its true form, with a wonderful, brightly colored, shaggy coat. It had oversized fluffy feet and a very large head and big blue eyes that sparkled like alpine lakes. Melissa could see that this cloud dragon was terrified of her mom’s screaming.

This was the first time Melissa had experienced a cloud dragon. She had heard they were terrifying, dangerous creatures and she had been trained to keep all windows and doors tightly closed and locked. But this particular cloud dragon looked a lot more fun than terrifying. Melissa’s mother caught the side of the cloud dragon’s head with the broom and it let out a loud whimper, like a giant puppy dog. Melissa determined that the cloud dragon needed saving from her mom!

She told the servants to escape through the doors into the hall and they gladly went. Now she just had to persuade her mother to leave too. But her mother had the cloud dragon cornered and the poor thing was panting like a dog and not looking at all happy. “Look mom!” said Melissa, “You’re scaring the poor thing.”

“Scaring the poor thing?” wailed her mom. “What are you talking about? That thing can destroy everything!”

In a soft, calm voice Melissa urged her mom to walk backward toward the door and to secure the rest of the house. “Let me deal with this situation,” said Melissa.

Her mom was tired from all the shenanigans, but she did what Melissa said, and left the room, with her broom still in hand. As she closed the doors the room fell silent.

Like most first encounters there is always some fear of the unknown, and Melissa wondered if the creature was going to be friendly or not. She could see that the cloud dragon was exhausted and she wished she had some food to give it. She thought it looked like a baby. She walked slowly forward and put her hand out. Things were going well, she thought, as she inched closer. Maybe they could even be friends. Maybe the cloud dragon would let her stroke it.

 Melissa got close enough to almost touch the cloud dragon on the nose, when suddenly it sprang into the air, jumped across the room, and landed on the dining room table, which broke into pieces under the force. The cloud dragon was clearly frightened. Melissa darted over to the windows and flung them open. As it felt the breeze on its face, the cloud dragon turned its head and saw the open windows. Within seconds, it slinked through the window and flew up into the clouds. Starting from its head and moving slowly through its body, the dragon turned back into a cloud. Melissa thought this was beautiful and as her gaze fell upon its cloud form, the cloud dragon returned her look for a brief moment.

Melissa closed the windows and turned to survey the damage it had caused. “It’s a good job it was only a baby,” she thought. “An adult cloud dragon would have broken more furniture and most likely destroyed the walls and doors.”

In the subsequent days, everything in the dining room was either fixed or replaced, and regular life resumed. As far as Melissa was concerned, all that remained from that wonderful day was her mother’s complaints about the damage and had the cloud dragon  been able to get in.

Melissa wanted to know more. She couldn’t stop thinking about the poor baby cloud dragon and why was he alone. She was sure they would make great friends if only they could meet again. But when she looked up into the sky, she was not sure if she was looking at clouds or cloud dragons.

Part 3  Making Friends

Melissa looked down through the clouds onto the hill tops and everything looked its usual marvelous self. Though after the cloud dragon excitement, it all seemed rather boring. Then she spotted two figures emerge from the woods, a young girl and boy, both with striking white-blonde hair. They walked to the peak of the hill and appeared to be looking way into the distance. “Are they also looking for the baby cloud dragon?” Melissa wondered. “Why would they be up so high?” She felt suddenly excited and decided she had to meet those two kids. Without even controlling her ability, she suddenly appeared standing beside them on the hilltop.

The little boy saw her first. He seemed a little strange especially in the way he just gazed at her. Even when she said hello, all he did was stare. The girl was friendlier and said hello back. Melissa could see that the pair had some kind of connection and she noticed they would look at each other every so often move in sync.

Eventually the boy flashed an uneasy smile at Melissa. There was something wriggling in his pocket that he was trying to keep a secret. Melissa began talking to them; just mindless chatter, which she knew made her seem eager and a little desperate for friends. But the girl chatted back and was polite and well-spoken, if more distant and cautious than Melissa. After some time, the girl said they had to leave, and Melissa asked if they’d like to return the following week. She worried that made her seem a little needy, but the girl said they would.

When Melissa returned to her room she decided that instead of wishing and longing for a friend, it was better to take action. She was pleased with her new friends, and now she wanted to make friends with the baby cloud dragon. She knew it was out there somewhere and, like all babies, it must love food. She decided to make the best plate of food possible to see if she could tempt it to come back.

Part 4  In the kitchen

The golden morning light streamed through the large kitchen window and gave the cook, Mrs. Bunn, a fabulous glow. She was a very friendly cook and was always happily in charge of the kitchen. She knew where everything was, exactly how many bags of potatoes or rice there were, and even how many strawberries were in the bowl on the center of the table. She would gladly make Melissa any snack or meal of her choice, but Melissa knew if she asked for a meal for a baby cloud dragon that could well turn into a calamity. Mrs. Bunn would likely chase her out of the kitchen with a broom (something the cook had in common with her mother!). She knew she needed a better plan. “A cloud dragon would surely love a platter of different colored fruit,” she thought. “It would look pretty and taste delicious.” The question was how to ask for it without raising suspicion. Melissa knew that just a plate of fruit would be too small because the cloud dragon might not see it. No, it had to be a platter.

Mrs. Bunn was kneading some dough and humming, she appeared to be in a good mood, “Perfect” thought Melissa, now was a good time to ask.

“Morning Mrs. Bunn, I see you are busy, but would it be alright if I took some fruit and made a tray up?” she asked.

“Well of course you can, but tidy up after yourself and don’t leave any mess!” replied Mrs. Bunn, without even looking up. Then she added “The fruit under the window in the bowls has already been washed so just help yourself from there. I really don’t want you peeling and chopping.”

“Of course not, Mrs. Bunn. I will just help myself from the prepared fruit”.

Melissa could not believe her luck. Mrs. Bunn was so preoccupied with what she was doing that she paid no attention whatsoever to Melissa. Melissa filled her plate and the tray with raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, green grapes, slices of orange, slices of kiwi, and a handful of redcurrants. The tray of fruit was as colorful as the cloud dragon itself! Melissa then quickly left the kitchen with the feast.

Melissa lived in a huge home. When your home is in the clouds, there really aren’t any space restrictions. It had lots of rooms and lots of spaces, but she needed a space that was out of the way, that was quiet and that a cloud dragon would feel comfortable visiting. On the east side of the house the wall curled round and was adjoined to a small tower section of the house, which was used mainly for storage. That part of the house was small and a bit dark inside, and in need of some repair. Melissa’s mother preferred that everyone stay on the west side of the house, which was in a far better state of repair.

The tower house had three levels, and at the entrance was an old heavy wooden door, which Melissa had to work hard at to open. But once inside, even though it was dark, she could see that the floor and the stairs were beautifully tiled and each tile had its own decoration and color. Melissa immediately thought that this would be the right place, with bright-colored tiles, bright-colored fruit, and soon a bright-colored baby dragon!

She climbed the stairs to the top floor and found a door that opened onto a flat roof from another building, creating a kind of balcony. But there was no fence or railing around the roof, just a sheer drop into the clouds. The clouds looked like big soft fluffy balls that you could bounce on them, but Melissa knew better; if one were to slip off this roof there’d be no coming back.

Regardless, this was a perfect spot for her mission, especially because it was quiet and out of the way. Melissa put the platter of fruit in the center of the roof where it would be most visible, and then sat herself down against the door. And then she waited…

Of course, when you are enthusiastic about something you want it to happen now! So, when 30 minutes passed and no cloud dragon, Melissa began to doubt her plan. No, no she was determined to wait, she told herself; patience was the game. An hour went by, but it felt longer in the silence and being alone. After two hours had passed, Melissa had laid down on her back. Then three hours passed by and she could see that the sun was moving toward the west. After four hours, Melissa dozed off . Finally, she woke up and realized she’d been there for a full six hours! By this time, the fruit on the tray was beginning to look a little limp. Melissa also knew that people would be starting to miss her, and that she really ought to get back. Oh, what a waste of time, she thought. Disappointedly, she stood up, pulled open the door, and started her slow descent down the spiral staircase.

After a few moments she realized she had left the tray behind! She knew that Mrs. Bunn would be furious if she didn’t return it, as she liked everything to be order. So, Melissa ran back up the stairs, and as she pushed open the door to get to the tray, a small shock of surprise ran down her back. The fruit was all gone! She noticed two puddles of water next to the tray. It was not quite the outcome she wanted, but it was a start.

“I bet that baby cloud dragon waited all day for me to leave,” thought Melissa as she sprang down the stairs.

Melissa returned to the west part of the house to find her mom looking for her.

“Where have you been today, and why were you not at lunch?” her mom demanded.

“Hmm, time just passed by,” said Melissa. “I went exploring along the old east wall. I’m back now; no need to worry.”

“Well lucky for you, you are in time for dinner, but don’t make a habit of disappearing. You are expected to stay close to home,” reminded her mother.

Melissa agreed to everything her mother had to say, but she couldn’t escape what was on her mind, which was how to make friends with a cloud dragon! Tomorrow she would try again.

The next day was beautiful: the sky was light blue, the early morning sun was already beaming bright rays of light, and, like yesterday, Mrs. Bunn was very busy in the kitchen with the morning preparations. She had no time for Melissa, so all Melissa had to do was ask if she could take some fruit. “Of course you can. Just don’t make a mess,” said Mrs. Bunn.

Melissa grabbed a tray and filled it once again from all of the different neatly lined up fruit baskets. She then quietly walked through the door to begin her walk along the winding wall and to the bothersome heavy door of the east tower. Of course, the door was as heavy and aggravating as before, but Melissa managed to open it wide enough to pass through and once again she was climbing up the stairs. At the top she opened the next door to the balcony and placed the platter of fruit in the center. However, this time she was not going to wait on the balcony. Instead, she decided to wait behind the door and peep through the crack.

It felt like she was waiting forever, but in reality, it was probably only 20 minutes. And who should swoop down, but the beautiful cloud dragon. It was gorgeous in appearance and as it touched the roof, its glorious colors shone through. Within moments, the fruit was gone and so was the dragon. Melissa was giddy with excitement knowing that today she was one step closer to making friends with the dragon. A happy smile spread across her face.

And so it was every day, off Melissa went to feed her cloud dragon. As the days passed by, things seemed to be going so well, and the cloud dragon even let Melissa openly watch it from the door. Melissa hoped that soon the dragon would let her touch it, maybe just a little stroke on its nose.

But then... now this part is not so good, and not too nice to tell but it happened.

This one particular morning felt like any other day. Melissa walked into the kitchen expecting to find Mrs. Bunn working away, paying attention only to her kitchen chores. But Mrs. Bunn was waiting for Melissa with a stern look on her face. Melissa’s heart started to pound, and she immediately knew she was in trouble.

“Well Miss Melissa, what have you done with all the fruit? You know I prepare food for all the people here, and there are well over 300, and now there is no more fruit! You are the only one who I gave permission to help herself. So, what have you done with it?” said the cook. “How does a little thing like you devour enough fruit to feed a small army? Four days ago there were 426 strawberries, now there are only 42 left. Where did they all go? And what about the raspberries? There were 632 and now there are none!”

The questions from Mrs. Bunn came hurtling at Melissa, one after the other, and panic began to take over Melissa’s brain. She could not think of an excuse and she did not want to lie, but to tell the truth would land her in big trouble. Mrs. Bunn’s voice grew louder as she started to ask more questions. Then a strange thing happened. It felt like it lasted forever but really it was just a couple of seconds. Melissa stopped hearing the outside world and started to think. Truth is reality, she thought, and without truth what do you have? To lie would be to create an untrue reality. Before Melissa knew it, she blurted out “I have been feeding a baby cloud dragon!”

Once again, it felt like more time had passed, but really it only took a second before Mrs. Bunn fell silent. But her face went from red with frustration to white with anger. Her eyes narrowed and were aimed straight at Melissa. At this moment Melissa instinctively knew that the best course of action was to run! She spun around and ran out of the door onto the path leading to the east tower. But Mrs. Bunn was quick on her feet too, and she charged after Melissa with, of course, a broom in her hand! As the two ran down the winding wall path, Mrs. Bunn took aim and threw the broom in Melissa’s direction as if it were a javelin. It was thrown with such force that it overshot, and fortunately just missed the side of Melissa. Next came Mrs. Bunn’s left clog hurtling through the air! Melissa dodged that one with half a step to spare. She was getting close to the end of the path and the heavy door, but she knew she needed to get more distance so that she’d have time to push the heavy door open.

Breathing heavily, Melissa reached the door and started to push the door, but Mrs. Bunn was right behind her and there wasn’t enough time! She looked around and saw Mrs. Bunn’s right clog coming right at her. A cold fear ran through Melissa’s body and she felt like she was stuck in motion, when whoosh she was high up in the air!

From nowhere, the baby cloud dragon in all of its fine colors swooped down and picked Melissa up with its feet. It threw her onto its back and together they soared high up into the clouds.

Melissa was surprised, shocked, and stunned, but most of all she felt happy and sure that she now had a truly amazing best friend. With Melissa on his back, the cloud dragon had kept its solid color form and as it flew and darted around the blue and white sky, its colors glistened and it looked perfectly magnificent.


To be continued...













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