August Itch: An Extensive Guide On What To Do With Boys Who Turn Into Dragons

*Based on a true story

 

There once was a boy named August. He was an ordinary child, well, mostly.

He had a quirk.

Maybe ‘quirk’ isn’t the correct term here, but ‘problem’ doesn’t fit and ‘disease’ certainly doesn’t apply, so I’ve chosen ‘quirk’. Deal with it.

Back to the story.

The truth is, August had an itch. Constantly. And no matter how much he scratched and rubbed, it refused to leave him. This was a big problem for August and his family too. The poor boy’s mother had spoken with doctors and oracles, fortune tellers and witch doctors; she had tried oils and lotions, snake poison and lemon juice. There was nothing on the planet that had not been applied to little August’s itch-spot. Eventually, all resources had been exhausted, and the sad family gave up hope of curing their little boy. August Itch, as he became known as, was doomed to live an abnormal life. He couldn’t go to school, couldn’t make friends, couldn’t go in public, definitely couldn’t get a job when he grew up; this was the sad reality in which our protagonist lived his life.

August spent most of his time in the woods next to his house playing, listening to the birds, and scratching himself up and down, down and up, on the rough bark of the pine trees. Although he had been told again and again to, no matter what you do, do NOT scratch your itch, it provided temporary relief for his very permanent condition. Scratching became his favorite past time.

I’d love to be able to say that August’s habitual scratching bore him no consequences, but as I am sure you know, all actions carry with them certain repercussions, whether good or bad. August’s habit was no exception, and as time passed, his skin grew tougher and scalier until one day, August and his family awoke to the astonishing realization that little August Itch had turned into a dragon!

That was the worst day ever. August’s parents had had enough, and with a shove and a screech, they tossed him out the door never to return to the small house on the edge of the woods.

August was dismayed. With nowhere to call his home, nobody to call his friend, nothing in the world to comfort him, he entered the forest with head hung low.

What do dragons do? he wondered.

He tried to breathe fire, but of course he was not a real dragon.

He tried to fly, but he had no wings!

August was a lost boy-dragon in a lonely world, betrayed by his parents to live in a hostile forest. Every day he witnessed a poor forest animal being killed and eaten by a different predator. He was next, to be sure!

And he certainly would have been somebody’s dinner if it weren’t for Gloria.

A few days after August’s excommunication from his household and the only life he’d ever known, he was following a small path through the woods when he happened upon an inspiring scene: an enormous indigo dragon, brilliantly perched over a dead fox, nose bloodied from her feast. In a rare moment of vulnerability, the beast had been caught unawares.

“Hello,” said August.

Gloria started and instinctively poised for attack.

“I won’t hurt you, I’m just a boy.”

“Why, aren’t you a curious thing. You’re a boy-dragon!” Gloria said.

“Yes, and I don’t know what dragons do. Will you teach me how to be a dragon?”

“Well where is your mother, young one?”

“She didn’t like that I turned into a dragon so she sent me off on my own,” August said sadly.

Suddenly, in a moment of intensity, August’s itch grew to unbearable proportions and he flung himself to the nearest tree to relieve himself with scratching. It was quite a scene.

“Dear me! Whatever is wrong with you, boy-dragon?” Gloria shouted.

“I have an itch that never goes away,” August said with face contorted in pain as he rubbed his back violently against the tree.

“Why that sounds awful!”

August finished scratching and sighed.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

“Gloria. What’s yours?”

“August.”

“August, are you hungry, dear? Help yourself to this fox; it’s very tasty!”

August approached the dead fox timidly, smelling it with his very human nose.

“Do dragons eat foxes?” he asked.

“Oh yes, and many other forest animals too!”

August lowered his face to the mangled fox and struggled to tear a piece of bloodied flesh with his very human teeth. He spat it out instantly. Gloria laughed.

“Why don’t you come back to my mountain and we’ll make a fire and cook the meat for you. You can meet my family too, if you wish!” Gloria said.

“Oh, yes please!” August said emphatically.

So little August Itch boarded Gloria’s back and she clutched the limp fox in her strong jaw and together they flew to Gloria’s mountain.

August met all of Gloria’s friends and family that day and they accepted him as their own, and August spent much of his childhood from that day forward in the woods and on the mountain, learning how to be a good boy-dragon.

A Grim Account

Well, dear reader, the story that I am about to relate to you takes place in the summer; the time of year when I, death, claim the majority of suicide victims as my own. According to reliable sources, summer and the months leading up to it are when depressed human beings, weary of their very existence, choose against the will of all who love them to steal from themselves what is held most dear. Is it even possible to steal something that you yourself own, you ask? Well, do you really own life? I’m sure my counterpart would say otherwise. Let me introduce you to my coworker, Life himself.

Life is much happier than I. He (or she, who am I to assume the gender of a state of being? However, for the sake of this narrative, I shall refer to Life as ‘he’.) is full of, erm, well, life! It is indeed rather hard to describe something which the human mind cannot fully comprehend, but can’t you see I’m trying here? No matter!

Life works much harder than I, bringing roughly double the amount of existence into the world as I take out of it . However, my role on the universe does appear to have a greater affect on the lives of these human beings who so cherish the spotlight of creation. It seems to me that anguish is a stronger emotion than joy. Engrain these two images in your mind: the face of a mother who has just conceived and the face of the man whose brother has just died. Which image is clear in your conscience? I trust I have made my point.

Nonetheless, I give Life much credit for this simple reason: without Life, I would be without a job. In fact, I would be nonexistent. So for that reason, I am grateful for the work of Life, though we butt heads on many matters. One such matter is suicide. And it is on this topic that I narrate this story to you.

I will admit, I do not understand, nor will I ever comprehend the emotions and thoughts that exist inside a human mind. I know not what drives a man or woman to such insanity whereupon they would hoist themselves high upon a bridge with weights tied to their ankles, and with a shout (or cry, the difference is indistinguishable) shove themselves into the air, allowing gravity to send them into the water below and ultimately, into my arms. However, when such a moment presents itself, when one of the humans does contemplate suicide, I try to make the most of it.

Undoubtedly, Life will beat me to The Boss’s door. He always does (Life is the sort of fellow who is very passionate about his work and quick to respond to the happenings of existence). But The Boss will usually listen to both sides of the case, first to Life’s emotional cries of desperation, and then to my own monotone. But no matter how much we beg and plea and scratch and scuff, the decision is left up to The Boss. Every time. And so, after our measly presentations, we exit His office and proceed to the observatory, where we wait and watch for the fate of the human in question.

It was exactly 12:00 A.M. on this particular summer night, which I thought seemed particularly foreboding, when Anna, the teenaged daughter of a wealthy businessman, stood atop a tall bridge, primed to take the leap. Life and I watched in anticipation from the observatory, oblivious to her fate. I could see her sweating even from so great a distance away; I could tell she was about to make her move, when Life gasped and pointed.

“Angels!” he exclaimed, “Angels are encircling her! She will be saved!” and he jumped from his place in the observatory and rushed down to Earth to greet Anna with open arms. I watched it all from above as, indeed, she stepped away from the bridge and removed the weights from her ankles. The Boss had chosen Life for Anna, and there were tears of joy on her face as she realized what she was almost persuaded to do. Life hugged Anna with all his might while the angels stood by, watching cheerfully, and after the embrace they all danced in the street and rejoiced.

If I’m to be honest, a small tear escaped my eye that night as I watched so intently the scene unfold beneath me from my window seat in the observatory. I believe it was the first tear to ever abscond my tear ducts, and I trust it will be the last as well.

Something changed for me that night. Never again did I view my job in the same light. After that moment, I became more and more aware of the pain that I caused in the world and contrarily, I better appreciated Life’s honorable profession. No longer did I scratch and scuff when I entered The boss’s office to present my side of a case; no longer was I so eager to enter the scene of a crime. I suppose one could say I became soft that night.

After all these years of stealing souls, I’ve learned many things. One is that suicide, above all else, makes me weary. Life and I have had many a conversation about suicide, and we both believe that it is the most hopeless of all crimes.

So, dear reader, let me simply say this: do not worry about removing my career, for that will never happen, but if I can teach you anything at all through this grim account, let it be to choose life.

Grizzly

The children listened intently to the storyteller in front of them, eyes bulging, ears thirsty for more adrenaline-packed words. Their breath was still, like a humid day; they were both in awe and terrified.

Mr. Patterson continued his tale.

“I looked up, over the hedge which I hid behind, into the small clearing where the tracks that I had been following led, and there I saw her – the biggest, most ferocious, wild-looking Grizzly Bear I had ever seen. There she stood tall on her two massive back paws, watching me with eyes the size of baseballs, breathing silently at me. She made no noise, not even the softest growl, and for a moment she seemed peaceful. But when our eyes locked, my neck hairs raised and every muscle in my body went tense with fear.

We just looked at each other for a while – she was magnificent, the most beautiful animal I had ever laid eyes on. I knew I was defenseless against such a monster and she could tear me to brisket if she chose to do so, but I didn’t move; I just stared, refusing to flinch or blink. Until she did. And that’s when I knew I had to act.

I knew what I had to do. In my head, I jumped to my feet, raised my arms high above my head, and yelled so loud my deaf grandfather heard me. But that was in my head. In reality, I made a mistake. I froze.

And that’s when she chose to attack. She raised up higher on her haunches than I knew she could, growled with the force of a hurricane wind, and like that she was off. Straight for me.

The rest of that encounter is fuzzy in my head. All I remember is running, feeling the bear close behind me, and slamming into the ground unexpectedly. She had overtaken me, as you would expect, and when I woke from unconsciousness, I was weak from blood loss. But somehow I made it back home safely and slowly recovered back to health. But the bear not only left behind a distinct memory in my head, she left this.”

Mr. Patterson turned around and lifted the back of his shirt, revealing four massive streaks of darkened scars running diagonally across his spine. The crowd of children gasped in unison.

“I learned a valuable lesson: never underestimate a six hundred pound hunk of muscle and fur in its natural habitat. You will lose. I’m just thankful that Grizzly chose to spare my life.”

The children returned to their homes, imaginations soaring with their newfound input of fear mixed with knowledge.

That night, Timothy, an especially curious ten year-old who had listened to Mr. Patterson’s story, lay in bed, eyelids refusing to close around his eyeballs, mind humming and buzzing. The topic of his imagination: Grizzly Bears.

It was especially late, the latest Timothy had ever stayed up, when he sneaked out of the house and wandered through the misty blackness with only his flashlight to make a path for his feet. When he came to the edge of the woods he did not hesitate but ran between the trees. There was not a stroke of fear in his body, only excitement and wonder, with his only goal to see the big Grizzly for himself.

Abby & Abby

Abbott married Abigail.

They were a happy couple.

Until people started calling them both ‘Abby’.

They wanted the name calling to stop.

They posted on Facebook.

“Stop calling us ‘Abby & Abby’, please and thank you!”

But it only continued.

It got worse.

It became unbearable.

Abigail refused to leave the house.

Abbott was forced to do the grocery shopping.

Their marriage began to crumble.

Meditation didn’t work.

Marriage counseling didn’t work.

Divorce was inevitable.

And then, a brilliant idea!

Abbott changed his name.

Now they were ‘Gary & Abby’.

But nothing changed.

Oh, cruel world!

They divorced.

All because of a silly name.