When Isaac returned home from work, Charlie was waiting for him by the door. Isaac smiled at him as he changed his shoes. “Hey, kiddo. What’s up?”
Charlie scuffed the toes of his shoes against the carpet. “I need help with my homework.”
Isaac hung his coat up. “Okay. I’m ready now. Lead the way.”
He followed Charlie down the hall to his room. Charlie turned his desk chair around and sat down. Isaac pulled the chair by the bookshelf over and sat facing him.
“I’m supposed to write about what I want to do when I grow up.” Charlie picked up a paper off his desk and turned it to face Isaac. The assignment written on it was just as Charlie reported.
“You mean like a bucket list? Things you want to do before you die?” That sounded like a fun assignment. Someday Isaac wanted to sit down and write a list like that. The challenge would be to narrow it down to the things you really, really wanted to do. There were just so many interesting things in the world, and not enough time to see and try them all. Read More
The dragon flapped its wings a few times. Then it jumped up into the air and flew in wide circles, spiraling higher and higher. Isaac held up a hand to shade his eyes so he could watch the dragon fly.
The dragon paused, just for a moment, and then he tucked his wings into his sides and dove almost straight down. He opened his wings at the bottom of his dive and careened towards Isaac.
His talons locked around Isaac’s shoulders and upper arms, and the dragon beat his wings against the air as they climbed higher and higher. Isaac looked down. The island seemed empty, except for the low wall that was now a thin line, dividing the island in half.
Isaac reached up and clutched the dragon’s ankles. “Please don’t drop me!” He shouted.
“Let go!” the dragon shrieked and tightened its grip on Isaac’s shoulders.
“Only if you put me down somewhere safe.”
“Not on my island!”
“Somewhere else then.” Isaac winced as he looked down. The island looked so far away. If he fell from here, he’d never get back home.
“Fine.” The dragon dove once more, and Isaac held on tight, closing his eyes against the biting wind.
And then his feet were touching something just as the dragon released his shoulders. Isaac let go and opened his eyes. It looked like he was standing in a wooden basket with sky all around him. His knees felt weak and he sat down suddenly.
The dragon was already spiraling higher. “Never come back,” he shouted as he flew away.
Isaac watched him go, and then crawled to the edge of the basket and looked down. He was in the crows nest of a ship. He stepped onto the rope ladder hanging nearby and climbed down to the deck of the ship.
A tall thin man with big bushy eyebrows was waiting on the deck, arms folded. “A stowaway? I’d send you the way of the bat and the owl I found hiding aboard my ship, but I can see that it’s already too late for you.”
“What do you mean?” Isaac asked.
“You can stand on the deck of my ship, and you’re squinting in the sunlight. You don’t see mist or a ghost ship or a skeleton crew, do you?”
Isaac looked around. The sun was shining, and the ship looked solid and deserted. “No, I don’t see any of that.”
“Then you’re one of us, those cursed to play the terrible game. I’d tell you to quit and go home, but it’s too late for you.” He shook his head. “Too late!” He yelled and shook his fist at the sky.
“Do you know the way home?” Isaac asked. “I thought we could go home once we found the party.”
“Not every one can, and few like what they find when they get there. Spending time between worlds like we do changes us. There’s no preventing that.”
The man lifted a busy eyebrow. “Did you see more than a handful of people or animals on any of the islands?
Isaac shook his head.
“Of course not. You could only see the one between worlds like you are. People that didn’t quite belong in one place or another. And they were the only ones who could see you.”
The man held up a little pencil that was missing its eraser. “I found the party, a long, long time ago. They made me the king of wishes. I was so pleased. So foolish. They didn’t say that any of my wishes would come true in the way I expected them to.”
“What happened?” Isaac asked.
“I wrote all my wishes into a little book.” The man pulled a notebook out of his pocket. “And then I watched them all go wrong. I wished for a ship and crew. My crew fought constantly and couldn’t work together to sail the ship anywhere. I wished for my favorite meal. I now have an unlimited supply of roasted chicken that I’ve somehow become allergic to.”
“Did you wish to go home?” Isaac asked.
“I did, and now I’m half here and half there, on a ghost ship that is only real to those just as cursed as I am, forever between worlds.” The man put the notebook and pencil into his pockets.
“Can’t you wish you hadn’t come here?” Isaac asked.
“I can’t change the past. The words just vanish from the page.” The man looked sad. “The only thing that worked was to erase the wishes. But I lost the eraser somewhere, and I’ve spent so many years trying to retrace my steps.”
“But can’t you wish for the eraser?” Isaac asked.
“And risk destroying my only chance to fix this half-life?” The man glared at Isaac.
Isaac thought for a moment. “Have you met the queen of everything?” he asked.
The egg’s poem about a wasp with a dreadful wig was very long. And it repeated a lot. And the egg spoke in a sing-song voice that made even normal sentences sound like nonsense. So, it was probably not surprising that Isaac dozed off at some point. The egg, however, found it inexcusable.
“You didn’t even clap at the end,” the egg shouted. “You just snored.”
“I’m sorry. It was just such a long poem.” Isaac smiled apologetically.
The egg frowned. “You promised to clap.”
“Would it help if I clapped now?” Isaac asked.
“You already tried that,” the egg said sulkily. “It doesn’t count if it’s not right at the end. If you clap late, you might be clapping about anything after all.”
“But isn’t late better than not at all? And twice better than once?”
“If the first slice of cake isn’t any good, is the second going to be welcome?” the egg’s crayon face looked angry.
Isaac shrugged. “Perhaps I should just leave. I can look around for a bit on my own.”
The egg looked angrier. “This is my island. I say whether or not you can look around. And I say you are too rude to stay here a minute longer. Leave now and don’t touch or look at anything at all.”
Isaac laughed nervously. “But that’s impossible. I have to touch the ground to walk, and I’ll get lost if I can’t look around, and then I’ll stay here even longer.”
“Well, stop touching the ground right this moment. I mean it.” The egg was shaking with anger.
“I can’t,” Isaac said. “I don’t know how. I’m sorry.” The egg shook even harder. Isaac was alarmed. “Please stop shaking like that! You’re going to fall off the wall.”
“You can’t tell me what to do on my island!” The egg was swaying dangerously now.
Isaac, alarmed, tried to speak in a calm, soothing voice. “You’re right. My mistake. It’s just that…”
“Your mistake? I told you everything on thing on this island is mine!” The egg bounced once, twice, and then fell from the wall. It landed with a loud crunching sound that echoed strangely.
Isaac rushed to the egg, which was cracked right through its crayon-drawn face. He wasn’t sure what to do, and his hands fluttered uselessly over the large egg that, up close, was almost as tall as he was.
His mind raced. Was there anyway to fix the egg? If only he’d managed to find the party sooner, then maybe he’d be the king of doctors. But can doctors repair eggs? And there were no guarantees he become a doctor. He might end up as the king of horses, and horses didn’t even have hands. There was no way they could fix broken eggs.
The egg was still making small cracking sounds. Isaac leaned forward, worried that it was about to collapse in on itself. He still had no idea what he could do to help. “Are you okay?” He asked.
There was no answer. The egg continued to make little cracking sounds. The crack across the face grew wider, and suddenly a scaly green face popped through, right in the middle of the egg’s old face.
Isaac jumped back in surprise. “Who are you? What just happened?”
“I’m the same person I always was,” the green thing said. “And you’re still on my island.”
“But I thought that it was the egg’s island… Oh.” Of course. It had hatched.
The green thing snorted and smoke trickled out of its nostrils. It climbed out of the remains of the egg shell, crunching it under its large taloned feet. A long tail whipped back and forth behind it.
It climbed up on the low wall and stretched out its massive wings. It was a dragon.
At first, it all seemed like fun and games. Peter the Great was a magician who made a name for himself making things disappear. Not apples and bunnies and watches, like so many other magicians. He’d disappear things like people’s left thumbs or entire parking lots. His breakthrough was when