How to kill a dragon

My friend Derek has a six year old grandson who came for a visit. They were exploring the basement together when the boy pointed to the door on the left and asked, "What's in there grandpa?"

"Canned foods and supplies for the kitchen," said Derek.

His grandson pointed to the door ahead of them, "What's in there grandpa?"

"Your grandmother's files," said Derek. "Nothing too exciting."

He pointed to the door on the right, "What's in there grandpa?"

"I don't know," responded Derek, entirely truthfully. "I have no idea. Maybe dragons?"

"Dragons!" he said, eyes lighting up. "Get me a broomstick!"

"What?"

"A broomstick!"

After a quick search, Derek returned with a broomstick and handed it to his grandson.

"What are you going to do?" asked Derek.

"You're going to open the door," said his grandson. "And then I'll run in there and see what happens. Okay, go!"

Derek complied and his grandson rushed headlong into the dark room, smashing everything right and left. After a few seconds of commotion, grandpa hit the light switch, hoping that nothing too valuable or dangerous had been shattered. The light revealed his grandson stomping his foot onto the floor with great enthusiasm.

"What are you doing?" asked Derek.

"I'm killing the dragon, grandpa!" he said.

"But I don't see it," said Derek.

"You're silly, grandpa," he said. "Don't you know how to kill dragons? If you run away they get bigger and bigger and you'll never escape. But if you charge forward and face them down they get smaller and smaller until they disappear. I just squished it."

Complement with What my secret agent grandmother taught me, Why we suspend disbelief, and Simple and difficult.

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Eliot Peper is the author of nine novels, including Cumulus, Bandwidth, and, most recently, Veil. He sends a reading recommendation newsletter and lives in Oakland, CA.

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