It’s Better When She’s Calm

It happened when they were on vacation. They traveled to a warm and sandy place. The sunsets were beautiful and they all wore sandals everyday.

Dad insisted on early morning walks. They left before the sun was up. Dad carried Charlotte in a baby carrier on his back, pointing out things he found interesting. Everyone else trailed behind him, walking around hills of sand and spiky plants. Once, a snake crossed the path, drawing s-shapes in the sand.

On the last morning, a horde of tiny flying lizards burst out of a little sand cave and crossed the path right in front of them. The lizards were a glittery metallic purple color. They’d never seen anything like it.

“What are they?” Dad asked. He’d spoken quietly, but one of the lizards turned. It flew in slow circles around him while he held as still as possible.   Then it darted in behind him.

Dad tried to turn, but the lizard managed to perch briefly on the back of the baby carrier. Charlotte screamed. Dad quickly turned and crouched, putting himself between Charlotte and all of the lizards. The little lizard flew away to join the others, disappearing behind a hill of sand.

Mom rushed behind Dad to check on Charlotte. “She’s bleeding,” Mom said. “I think it bit her.” Charlotte was wailing loudly.

The other children, Angie and Brian, scooted closer. They clung to Mom, one on each side. Dad tried to turn his head to look behind him. “Is she going to be okay?” He asked.

“It looks okay, like she was pricked by little pins. I don’t know if it was venomous though. We should find a doctor,” Mom said.

So, they spent the last day of vacation at the hospital. The doctor hadn’t heard of flying lizards in the area.   He couldn’t find any information about them when he looked them up either. “Maybe you saw bats and the light was just strange,” the doctor said.

Charlotte was covered in crumbs from vending machine cookies. She was happy and calm and cooed at the doctor.   The doctor smiled and gave them lists of things to look for.   He suggested they check in with their doctor when they arrived home.

The area with the bite was a little red and swollen the next day, but Charlotte seemed fine. They traveled home and went back to work and school and regular life. It seemed like the incident would just be another odd vacation story to tell.

Then, a month later, Brian rescued the remote from Charlotte. Charlotte wasn’t done chewing on it. She roared at him. “What are you watching?” Mom asked from the kitchen.

“That was Charlotte,” Brian said.

“What was Charlotte watching, then?” Mom asked.

“No, it was Charlotte that roared,” Brian said.

“Very funny,” Mom said.

Later that evening, they all were in the living room watching a movie.   Charlotte was toddling around, carrying her dolls and toys into the room and hiding them in between the side of the couch and the wall.

She tripped over Angie. She squawked and fire poured out of her mouth. The couch looked singed. “What just happened?” Angie asked.

“I think Charlotte is a were-dragon,” Brian said.

“Don’t be silly, there’s no such thing,” Dad said.

Charlotte pulled the popcorn bowl off the couch. She had somehow grown claws and sharp little teeth and was making grumbly sounds as she ate. “Is the moon full?” Mom asked.

Angie ran to the window. “It is,” she said.

They all looked at Charlotte. She was gnawing on her sippy cup and shredding her favorite blanket. “Well, this could be interesting,” Dad said.