Year of the Dragon

I grew up with dragons in my house. They weren’t imaginary. Two of them held court in the living room. Each one, black as coal, sat atop an andiron on either side of the large fireplace.  Here I am at six standing between them the month after we moved in.

I loved the dragons. No one else I knew had even one. My admiration grew at Easter when we woke up to find a jelly bean or two on their tongues.

I never thought they were scary but some people did. And some people also thought our two black cats were scary and if the cats were in the front yard, they’d make haste to cross the street instead of maybe crossing paths. The cats were sisters, and mother said we needed to take care of them, because due to superstition, no one wanted to adopt a black cat. At Halloween, we always kept them inside so they wouldn’t be the victims of some prank.

My dad did once refer to my mother as a witch which she immediately denied, clearly annoyed. They weren’t having a fight. I was sick with a cold and she was in the linen closet finding me a homeopathic remedy from her shoe box full of jars. We didn’t go to doctors very often.

Back to the dragons. I don’t know if my mother always knew or if she figured it out over time but the dragons original color was not black. The prior owners must have used the fireplace a lot and the soot coated them. One day, mom unscrewed the two dragons and took them somewhere to be cleaned. When they returned, they were magnificent, bronze, shiny dragons. They took my breath away.

Many years later my mother offered them to me, I took them. Now they are in my living room next to our fireplace, minus the andirons. They can stand on their own. And I’m sure someone else has a dragon or two of their own but I’ve never met them.

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