My four-year-old and I decided to collaborate on a book. I was surprised when she decided the story should have some scary parts in it. Like a dragon, she said. Or the dark, I said. Like a dark cave, she said.
Here's what I ended up writing.
The snow fell harder and harder. I remembered that polar bears dig dens in the snow. So to escape the biting wind, I begin to dig.
Suddenly the ice and snow collapsed. I slid. I fell.
Where was I? It was very dark. I was in a cave of ice.
I thought I saw two large, pale, gleaming eyes. Trembling, I crept closer. What was it?
It was a dragon. It saw me. I was afraid. Then I saw that the dragon was trapped in the ice, frozen in place.
The dragon's scales over its heart were warm. I could feel the heart beating, very faintly, very slowly. Thump. Thump.
I stayed there a long time.
The storm passed. I came home safely. That was one year ago. Now I am returning to find the cave again. The zoo wants the dragon for their collection.
As we got near the end, I asked her if the heroine should set the dragon free from the ice. Her eyes grew wide and she smiled and said no in an small tense voice.
Later J. read it and said it was pretty good. I wonder if he felt it was scary. The uneasy feeling I get from this story comes from all the questions it leaves open. Is the dragon a person, an animal, or a monster? Is it safe to take it to live in a zoo? Is it humane? To me those are the scary parts.