A Father’s Day Tribute
It was a beautiful summer Wednesday afternoon, and Drake Kendrick (who would later become known as Drigondii Sheii’Cronell) was working outside with his father, Jake. It had been several years since his mother had left, though at the time Drake did not know where or why, and it was just the two of them, father and son. To commemorate the fact that was such a wonderful summer day, unfettered by such toils as school, rain, or any other dreadful thing which boys Drake’s own age all hated, they were digging up the yard and installing a sprinkler system.
While Drake had had all sorts of suggestions for enjoyable activities to include going to the movies, getting an ice cream, watching TV, and playing with water balloons but certainly not to include working, the older and more wizened of the Kendricks had decided upon the wondrous activity of putting in a pop-up sprinkler system through which Drake could later run and which would be much more fun than any of those silly things Drake wanted to do. Well, hours into the day, with quite a bit of pipe laid and quite a bit of dirt moved, Drake was now convinced that this had been a trick to get him to help out with the yardwork. But there were only a couple of hours of work left before the small yard would be completely dug out for piping, so Drake pushed onward, relishing the smiles he was earning from his dad for restraining so long from complaint.
After another hour or so, it was time for a break. Drake was sent into the house to get a bag of tortilla chips and a jar of salsa. This was a bit of a tradition for the two of them. While they always had bottles upon bottles of water to stay hydrated, Drake and his father always had some chips and salsa when they were almost done for the day with work outside. Drake was often told that it had been his mother’s favorite part of such days, and he didn’t disagree. He grabbed a bowl and cup for easier handling of the chips and salsa and headed back outside, beaming with his doe brown eyes at the thought of his mother.
“Hey there, superguy! You all ready for our break?” Jake Kendrick’s eyes held wrinkles from smiling so widely, and they were filled with pride at the little man jogging back to him, eager to get back to his dad. “Be careful going over those trenches, Drake,” he said as the boy got closer. Then Drake tripped on a trench.
He fell, hitting his head on the corner of one of the shovels. Blood sprayed as his face was torn open by the cruel, cold steel. “Drake!” Jake Kendrick ran as fast as he could to his son’s aid. Tossing aside his shovel and letting all else lie in its disheveled place on the ground, Jake ran and picked up his son, immediately applying pressure on the wound and carrying him quickly to the house, where his First Aid kit awaited. Quickly, he threw open the door and carried his son to the sink, where he washed the wound carefully, pulling out the First Aid kit below. Not bothering to turn off the faucet, he lay Drake on the table, urgent to treat the wound before–
A small hand reached out from a teary, bloodstained young body and gripped Jake’s throat with the strength of three grown men. Blood red liquid seemed to fill young Drake’s irises as they changed color and began to shine. The dragon tattoo winding down Drake’s small arm began to glow a bright green and remove its claws from the boy’s skin. It then moved, turning back to the boy’s head and beginning to walk toward his wound. Jake’s eyes began to well up with tears as his son looked at him, emotionless and task-driven but clearly in pain.
Blood was still pumping from the wound as the dragon reached it and glowed even brighter. It then began to encircle the wound like it was prey on which to be fed. Its jaws gnashed at the edges of the wound, which pulled away like a frightened animal. The dragon drew its circle tighter and tighter as the wound closed, eventually dwindling to nothing.
The glowing stopped and the dragon moved back to its place, wrapped around Drake’s young arm. It dug its claws back in, and the red in Drake’s eyes seemed to be washed away by the brown that was returning. When the last of it was gone, Drake lost consciousness and released his father, who had pulled his son into a tight embrace before he was finished with his first gasp of air. Setting him down, Jake bandaged the spot where the wound had been and cleaned Drake up. Drake would know neither how severe the wound had been nor how he had healed so quickly.
Drake awoke two hours later on the couch with a blanket over him. He went outside to see how his dad was doing. “Hey, superguy! Hope you don’t mind I finished up without you.” Jake stepped toward his son and gestured that he sit in one of the lawn chairs. Drake sat, and his dad sat in the other chair, picking up the full bowl of chips and handing it to his son. “Let’s get started on these chips, huh?” His large hand grabbed a chip, dipped it into the cup of salsa, and brought it to his bearded mouth, which smiled at his son as he chewed on his own chip and smiled back.
“Hey, Dad?” Drake spoke, and his father looked at him, smile unfading.
“Is my head going to be ok?” Drake looked at his father, who began to chuckle.
“Yes, Drake, you’re
going to be fine. It wasn’t even that bad. You probably hurt the shovel more than it hurt you. You should be good to take that bandage off in a day or two, right as rain. Just be careful not to take it off before then. You know why?”
“Because we don’t want it to get infected, right?” Drake smiled at his dad, who smiled right back, careful not to answer the question. He reached out and ruffled his son’s hair after a few more chips.
“Now, let’s get this stuff put up. Don’t want it to be left outside overnight.” They sprayed the dirt off the tools and put them away underneath the porch. The last things to be put away outside were the chairs. Once all the tools, pipes, glues, and primers had been put away, Drake and his father went and sat back in the chairs, going back to their chips and salsa to watch the sunset.
As the sun went down, Drake looked at his dad again. He could have sworn for a moment that he saw red marks around his dad’s neck. But it must just have been sunburn. His dad noticed him looking. “What’s up, kiddo?” Jake’s brow furrowed slightly, but his smile remained.
“Nothing, Dad. Happy birthday, Dad.” Drake smiled at his dad, who patted his back and squeezed his shoulder gently.
“Thanks, buddy. I appreciate it.” The tear that hadn’t dropped at the sight of Drigondii Sheii’Cronell in his son’s eyes dropped to his cheek now, at the sight of a truly good son.
Jake Kendrick would have seven more birthdays. Shortly after that, Drake Kendrick would cease to be, and Drigondii Sheii’Cronell would leave Earth. But that day was not today, and only the older of the Kendricks even knew that the day would come. In the meantime, Jake Kendrick intended to enjoy every moment he could with his son. Seven years could be such a long time, and days like this one seemed to do the best job of making a good day long.
“I love you, Dad.”
“I love you, too, superguy. Let’s go to bed. We have to work on the garden tomorrow.” Drake groaned while his father smiled as they went inside the small house. Jake looked at his watch, as he did every time the day was coming to an end. It read: 63670 hours remaining. He looked away and went to bed.