Almost Summer

by Allison Mansfield © 2003

Thunder crackled in the distance, and a brief flash of lighting caused the children to giggle nervously as they peered out of the classroom windows. The sky had taken on an eerie, greenish cast. A towheaded boy clambered out of his seat and walked to the window, pressing his nose against the glass.

“Billy,” the teacher said sharply. “Get away from the windows.”

He eyed her reluctantly. “I’m waiting for my ride.”

“Billy, there is still an hour of school left,” she sighed and glanced up at the clock. It was the last day of school before summer vacation, and her class of fourth graders was already trying her patience. Usually, the chaos didn’t start in until about fifteen minutes before school ended, but with the storm distracting them… Well, there really was no point in trying to teach in this kind of atmosphere.

“I didn’t even want to come to school today,” Billy told her, still standing near the window. “My parents made me.”

“You have very smart parents.”

She did not have the patience for Billy, or any of the children really, today. She just wanted to go home, out of the humid school and into the cool breeze of her air conditioned apartment.

“I’m leaving for my vacation right after school.”

“That’s wonderful. Go sit down.”

Billy lingered for a moment longer, his face briefly illuminated in a burst of lightning. Then he walked slowly back to his seat.

“Why don’t you tell the class your vacations plans, Billy?” the teacher said after a moment. Anything to pass the time…

“I’m going back to Rufesia.”

“I’m sorry?” She blinked and looked up. “Where is that? In Europe?”

“No, it’s in another dimension. I’m the prince of Rufesia, but I’ve been sent here to receive a modern education. I’m allowed to go home for my summers. When I turn eighteen, I’ll be permitted to return home for good and claim my throne.”

The other children giggled as he spoke, shifting in their seats restlessly and looking at each other with amusement.

“Billy,” the teacher said sharply. “We do not allow fibbing in this classroom.”

“I’m not fibbing!” His blue eyes were wide. “I always leave on the twentieth of June, the day after school ends. But school ends a day late this year, so I’m leaving directly from here. I can’t wait to go home and see my unicorns again!”

“I think we’ve all heard enough about your vacation, Billy.”

“We use dragons instead of cars there, isn’t that cool? They’re really good for making long trips—“

“BILLY!” A loud burst of thunder drowned out her voice. The air went oddly still outside. She could hear a vague rumbling rising in the distance.

“My parents are even teaching me how to use a sword! And there’s a magician in the castle who knows all these really neat tricks.”

Ignore him, she told herself. “Does anyone else wish to share their vacation plans?”

A young girl with long dark hair raised her hands. “I’ll be visiting Billy in the insane asylum!” She was met with a chorus of cruel giggles from her classmates.

Billy ignored them, still gazing out the window.

The clouds in the sky began to swirl rapidly.

Tornado? The teacher wondered, terror mounting as she stared out at the strange vision. “Children…everyone get under your desks! Now!”

This time, thunder and lighting crashed simultaneously, and the children shrieked as the lights abruptly blew out, leaving them in half-darkness. As the classroom windows rippled and then exploded inward, the children and the teacher all huddled under their desks. All except Billy…

A darkness filled the side of the room, bursting in from where the windows had shattered. Moisture glistened on onyx skin. Ruby eyes were illuminated in the otherwise dark room. Fire flickered from flared nostrils. The children screamed and began to flee the room. The teacher stared, her mouth open in shock, unable to move. She was looking at a dragon.

“It’s about time!” Billy said to the creature, advancing towards it. “I was getting anxious! Let’s get out of here.”

The dragon obediently lowered itself to its knees so he could climb aboard its back. His small hands gripped the scaly neck.

“Have a nice summer, Mrs. Green,” Billy said to the teacher as the dragon beat its blood-red wings and once more launched itself into the swirling sky.

x x x

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