Fiction Experiment: French Roast

Continuing with my Creative Writing Prompts, here’s today’s effort. A couple of notes here before you jump in: The prompt for midday was Your pet dragon has been misbehaving. I moved “Bart” and family into the future and kept his parents married past his seventh birthday. Note, again, as this is a work of fiction, my mother is/was not a coffee addict…at least not to the point of getting grouchy in the morning if she didn’t have a cup. Beyond that, enjoy!

French Roast

Mom wouldn’t let me get the Hip Dragon™ until the house fireproofing had been turned on. The nanoparticles secured against scorching or (Heavens forbid!) actual combustion, I was given firm instructions about what Ozzy—short for Ocelot, because I was goofy that way—could and could not do. The Hip Dragons, after all, only spat fire on command by a human.

  • No setting my sister on fire (obviously).
  • No setting the lawn, garden, or neighbors on fire.
  • Come to think of it, Ozzy wasn’t allowed to set anything on fire.

That was just as well because just like the kids running around with functioning Disney/Lucasfilm Ltd. lightsabers, the odds were good that I’d only put the critter to bad use, even without the built-in ThreeLaws® programming.

That didn’t mean Ozzy couldn’t get me into trouble. Having something akin to cat-level Artificial Stupid® in his two-centimeter brain, he could still wander off on his own while I was asleep if I didn’t tell him to stay put.

It was hard to hate the little guy—shimmering purple with blue belly scales, horns, and eyes, he was more like a puppy than any dragon. However, Ozzy started irritating Mom when he developed a taste for coffee. Mom’s coffee maker had been programmed for an 0530 wakeup since before I was born 13 years ago. Ozzy, programmed for a certain amount of curiosity to keep him interesting, caught whiff of the scent, and flapped downstairs to investigate.

For whatever reason, Ozzy developed a taste for Mom’s French Roast. The alkaline nature of it did something for his internal mechanisms, maybe? I never really understood because a) Ozzy didn’t speak so much as squeak and b) I never saw him pee. Where did it go?

Grownups can be fun sometimes. They are not fun if they haven’t had their coffee in the morning.

Mom was not fun that morning. “Who drank my coffee?”

“Not me,” Sis and I chorused. For once we had our stories straight because, honestly, neither of us was guilty. Mom got close to both of us and smelled our breath to see if we were lying. We weren’t. And besides, she knew that neither of us liked coffee. “Daniel!” she roared, storming upstairs to take out her frustration on Dad. Dad got the stinkeye for the rest of the day.

I didn’t pick up on what was going on until later that day, when I called, “C’mere, Ozzy!” and he assumed his regular station on my left shoulder. He did his usual endearing thing of rubbing his head up against the side of my skull, which inevitably messed up my hair on that side, but only Mom ever complained. We went into our usual routine of me asking how well Ozzy slept and Ozzy chattering away in his faux-Dragonish as if I understood what he said. I turned my head in his direction and smelled…French Roast.

“Hey!”

Ozzy stopped his chirping and looked back at me with his wide, cartoon-blue, vertical-irised cat’s eyes.

“You’re the one who drank Mom’s coffee!”

The angular, micro-scaled head and neck drew back from my angry look and the Hip Dragon™ (shouldn’t that have been ShoulderDragon™?) peeped innocently, a bit like R2-D2 after C-3PO asked him what happened to Princess Leia’s hologram.

“Don’t give me that. I don’t drink the stuff, but I know enough to recognize the smell. I won’t tell Mom, but don’t do it again, ‘kay?” I didn’t want to lose Ozzy, after all. I liked the little guy.

Ozzy nodded earnestly, his little purple arms doing a “cross my heart” across his turquoise chest.

“You’d better not. Or you bet I’ll tell on you. Sis and I don’t need the grief.”

So I went to school, where I met Joey, Ahmad, and Zheng He and their various HipDragons™. While we talked, the Dragons floated above our heads and started chattering among themselves in Dragon-speak. What did they find to talk about? Did they gossip about their humans? I always wondered. Anyhow, the day went as usual, aside from acing a chemistry test.

I got home, ready to tell Mom about the test. When the Uber dropped her off, I ran outside, as is my habit, and Ozzy flew along about a foot above and to the right of my left shoulder, happy to join in my happy mood. “Ozzy!” I called out, “Flame on! Celebrate! Hey Mom! Mom! Guess what!? I got an A on my…”

But Mom wasn’t listening. She was smelling Ozzy’s upward-cloud of flame. Normally it smells something like the propane from the backyard grill. Today? Not so much.

“You!”

She ran up and grabbed Ozzy’s tail in midair. He struggled against her pull, flapping furiously until he reperched on my shoulder—his safe/happy place.

Pretending not to smell anything, I said, “But Mom, he was just celebrating my grade on my…”

“Never mind about your grade. I want to know what that flying lizard is doing drinking my coffee!”

“What do you mean…?”

Mom stomped up to me and the artificial dragon on my shoulder. “Don’t cover up for him, Bart. I know what he did. I can smell it.” She turned her anger on Ozzy, who I could feel cringing against my neck. “No more of that, you understand, robo-brain? You touch my coffee again, you’re history. Mom turned in my direction and said, without a smile on her face, “Congratulations on your test,” then stormed into the house.

That’s probably the first—and only—time I felt bad getting an A.

Additional Notes

My dinner-time prompt for today is: The shadows on your wall are speaking. Write about the conversation that follows. I have no idea what I’m going to say about that. My five-minute prompt was the single word: thunder. I seem to use the five-minute prompt as a journal entry of sorts, writing whatever comes to mind for five minutes. “Flash fiction” isn’t a thing for me yet, but then it’s only day two. Maybe I’ll have other ideas going forward. Anyhow, the writing exercises will continue, hopefully.

 

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