art by Steven R. Stewart
by L.L. Phelps
Mei Ling sat beside the living room window and listened as the firecrackers echoed across the city. They had been going off for days, and she was sure by now that the dragon was getting as cranky as she was from being woken up so often by the loud pops and bangs. She was sure it was only a matter of time before it took flight and she was not going to miss it this year like every year before.
Mei looked down at her red dress and matching shoes and smiled. She wondered if the dragon could see how well she had dressed today and every day in the month long celebration. She was sure that if the dragon was awake, it would not miss her bright red clothing, the braids that her mother carefully plaited into her hair, and the bright oranges and festive candies that she gave to her friends in the streets.
But Mei was not concerned about the festivities. Not even the red envelopes full of money she had received from family interested her. Mei was only concerned about the dragon. Every year she heard about the dragon and she would sit by the window and watch and wait. She wanted to see the graceful creature when it glided across the sky, bringing spring rains to the land. Every year she somehow missed it, but she was sure the flight had happened as the rains soon followed. Then the crops were plentiful and no doubt undisturbed by the evil spirits.
Her grandfather had seen the dragon when he was a child and her grandfather was the wisest and most truthful man she had ever met. Mei looked over to where he sat and smiled as the old man dozed in his seat, his eyes beautifully wrinkled with old age, his beard long and pointed like the old, wise Confucians she had seen in her school history book pictures.