Dragons

A flash fiction in dialogue

But I thought you liked ballet.

I do but I don’t like people watching me.

Let me check your hairpins. Stop frowning. It’ll be good for you.

Yes, Mummy.

Competition gives you something to strive for.

Yes, Mummy.

We all need to step out of our comfort zone sometimes.

Our what? Mummy?

Comfort zone. It’s like… Well not just doing things that we find easiest all the time. Erm… Taking risks, being brave, pushing ourselves. Does that make sense?

I’m not sure, Mummy. Do you mean doing things that scare me?

Yes. That’s it. Clever girl!

Why do I want to be scared?

Well, because when it’s over you can say, ‘I’m glad I did that.’

Why would I be glad to be scared?

Because it won’t be as scary as you thought it would after all. You’ll have conquered your fear.

Like slaying a dragon?

Yes!

But I’d rather not.

Why?

I’m not a fighting person. And what if I don’t win?

You’ll have done your best and you’ll be better prepared for next time.

Next time? You want me to be scared again?

No. I want you to face your fears and step out of your comfort zone occasionally.

I think that’s silly.

You do?

Yes. People that want to be scared can watch scary films and do a bungi-jump and be in ballet competitions. The rest of us can carry on not being frightened. And stay in our comfortable zone.

It’s not that kind of comfortable.

Oh?

No. It’s comfort – as in easy, sometimes too easy. Maybe even just doing what’s familiar because you’re scared of the unknown – of taking chances.

I do like the unknown, though, Mummy. I like learning about new things. But I like familiar things too. I don’t have to choose, do I?

What about when you grow up? You’ll have to do all sorts of new and scary things.

Will I have to win competitions?

Well, er, only if you want to.

Well I don’t want to. So can I go home now?

But darling, life is full of risk and fear and I want you to be strong and be prepared. You’ll be okay, I pro –

– Sorry folks. You won’t be performing tonight. The last dancer’s vomited all over the stage. Scared witless. Never seen anyone so white.

She won’t be so scared next time, will she, Mummy? Now she’s slayed her dragon?

No, darling.

– I wouldn’t be so sure of that, love. That’s the third time she’s puked in a competition.

I think she wins, then, doesn’t she? She’s been the most scared. I hope she can go back to being comfortable now.

28 thoughts on “Dragons

  1. Ha! It’s funny; I’d always want to be able to step out of my own ‘comfort zone’ if need be, but the idea of teaching/pushing a child to do it is nauseating. Wonderful, thoughtful piece.

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  2. It’s a problem of parenthood – to push a child out of their comfort zone in the hope that they will appreciate the value of leaving the comfort zone.

    Nicely illustrated. A visceral statement.

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  3. Great work for dialogue only Rachel! Great work in any case. I love how patient the mother is in explaining things to her daughter – not enough parents like that around…

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    • Thanks, Louise. It’s very interesting how everyone has taken something different from it. I’ve had a few comments from parents in a facebook group and it made me realise that my intentions at a satire (really not meant to be particularly sweet) were taken very differently depending on people’s views about parenting and comfort zones (and perhaps humour). People that think like me really got it and others thought how wonderful the mother was – it wasn’t my intention that the mother should seem wonderful or sweet.

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  4. I like it. It’s never easy to know how much to encourage children outside their comfort zones, but I’m pretty sure that vomiting three times has crossed a line somewhere. Nice work.

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  5. Awww what a great story – and reading others comments I can see why everyone’s got different views. My mum wasn’t pushy but as a childminder, I witnessed lots of different parents and their techniques / ways with their children so can totally relate – love the hint of humour too. Great stuff

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  6. The girl has a wonderful voice. Insightful belligerance perhaps? She certainly sees through Mummy’s attempts to make her ‘shine’ on stage. I thought the daughter was going to turn the tables on mum by making her step out of a comfort zone, but your ending makes fools of the parents perfectly.

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