I read a story this morning that touched me in a way very few do. I’ve shared the story below, as well as my response posted to the author’s blog, and linked to its original location above.
The Freedom Within
by Nillu Nasser Stelter
I dream of dragons every night. I am the strongest of them all as we swoop towards the stars. Sometimes I catch sight of my own tail and I know I am beautiful, with shining emerald scales the colour of the mountains and claws that leave my prey defenceless. My lifeblood surges through me as my wings beat in time with my heart.
When I wake in the morning, the contrast between my mangled human form and my dragon one fills me with momentary bitterness. I wait for my nightly escapades with eagerness and impatience. It wasn’t always this way. After the accident, sleep was a poor companion; shadowy figures danced before me stealing my peace in the midnight hours. Mother would stand vigil at my bedside day and night, placing cool cloths on my brow as I lay limp under the sweaty bedclothes.
My body might still be broken but my mind is stronger. I conjure up my dragon dreams at will. I have been trapped within these decaying walls for nineteen long months but each night I am free. I wish I could show my parents that the mind can soar without its carcass. Last night my senses were heightened. I saw ornate temples, black oceans and magnificent sand-filled bays that would soften even my father’s battle-hardened exterior. But their guilt drowns them until there is no joy left. They suffocate me with the need to make amends. I have become the symbol of all they have lost, and for them daytime ghouls are worse than nightmares.
I am changing in ways my parents cannot as yet perceive. I covet sleep, day or night, yearning for the mist of drowsiness to envelop me so I can assume the form that has become more real to me than my human body. My dragon self is powerful, sacred, vengeful. If they insist on keeping me awake for their own solace, I will have no choice. I will rise up with lungs full of fire and wrath to fight for my freedom. It is all I have left.