Jake started shouting and pointing, “Hey, Dad! look!”
Jeff got up and went to Jake. I didn’t look up from my book. I imagined he found minnows or a crab or something.
Then Jeff started hollering, “Miranda! Look up!”
I was nursing an umbrella drink with one shot of vodka and two drinks worth of mixer. The concoction, lemon and strawberry and frozen, was the perfect beach drink for the perfect beach day. We were alone on the beach other than some surf fishers off in the distance, their poles set up in a row with them sitting in camp chairs around a cooler. Occasionally their laughter would ring loud enough that we could hear them. They were having a fine time.
Jeff was beside me and the Designated Parent for the day. We took turns. Our son Jake was playing in the shallow surf, his floaties bright orange against the blue water and blue sky and his blue swimming trunks. Jake’s blue eyes had been wide with excitement since we arrived. I vowed to make his first trip to the beach memorable and was succeeding. Each night he fell asleep at the dinner table and we carried him to the second bedroom of our rented condo. He would sleep all night and wake me before dawn. He with a glass of milk and I with my coffee would sit on the balcony and watch the sun come up. We were making memories that I hoped would sustain him his whole life. Shared, quality time in paradise.
“I closed my book and looked up.”
“Oh!” I rubbed my eyes.
I hadn’t even had a full shot of vodka yet and yet, there he was. Puff. In all of his majesty, scales gleaming iridescent purple, pink, blue, and green in the bright sun.
I grabbed the phone and started shooting. Then I turned it to video and let it roll.
Puff let out a mighty roar of greeting. A friendly bellow. His red eyes were big and friendly. He floated on the surface and spread his wings seeking our amazement. Which he got. The wingspan must have been thirty feet. Jake went tearing into the deeper surf, Jeff behind him, shouting “No!”
Quietly, I said, “Let him go.”
Perhaps I’d had enough vodka that my judgment was imperiled, perhaps not. I had grown up with that song near the ocean. I remember hours at the beach searching for Puff and singing the song like it was an incantation. I never succeeded,
But here he was, the Magic Dragon. That rascal.
That rascal spread his wings again and took off in flight – soaring over the ocean cove until he disappeared behind the horizon.
Jake came running towards me, “Mommy did you see? Did you see him? The dragon?.
“I did, Punkin! I took photos and a video. I pulled up the pictures to show Jake.
Nothing but blue sky and blue water and flashes of white foam. Frantically, I shuffled through the photos.
Nothing on the video either other than Jake and Jeff pointing and then Jake tearing off into the surf.
I couldn’t believe it.
We packed up and headed to the condo. I wanted to upload them to the laptop and see if Puff appeared then.
But no. Seems you can’t record magic dragons.
I thought Jake would be heartbroken. I was. But no. He knew what he had seen and had engraved it in his mind and on his heart. He spent the afternoon on the balcony, alone, drawing picture after picture of Puff using all the colors in the box except for brown and black.
I found the old song on YouTube and played it for him. His eyes teared up. Why did Jackie Paper quit playing with Puff?
I didn’t have the heart to tell him that we all grow up and the magic dissipates. Didn’t want to taint his experience and so I encouraged him to keep drawing as it would be the only visible reminder that we would have.
WATCH THE VIDEO — It’s great!