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art by Shothot Designs

Dragon Dreams on Cardboard Wings and Tiny Scraps of Yellow

Much like the protagonist of this story, Christopher Kastensmidt recently made his own plunge and left his job as Creative Director of Ubisoft Brazil. He is now working as a freelance writer and developer of intellectual properties, and lecturing at three different universities. Chris lives in Porto Alegre, Brazil with his wife and young boy, Lynx.
Susan sighed as she peeled a sticky note from the yellow paper patchwork pasted on her cubicle wall. Scrawled in thick black lines, the words "Compile CountString class header--2 hours" dictated the next indisputable edict in an endless cycle of programming tasks that filled a full fifty hours of her every week.
But instead of attaching the note to her monitor and starting the job--as she had done a thousand times before--Susan paused to rub it between her fingers: to feel its texture, to look beyond the dark, dooming words and admire the cheerful yellowness underneath. In an unprecedented gesture of spontaneity, she nabbed her company-standard black-handled scissors and cut a sloppy star from the tiny yellow note, which she tacked upon the beige-polyester lining of the cubicle.
Susan stared at the one-inch star for several minutes. Hundreds of its unaltered, rectangular yellow brethren surrounded it, each glaring at her in condemnation of her inaction; but she ignored them all. With a single, circular sweep of her arm she dislodged the lot of them, leaving her ragged star supreme in a spacious beige heaven. Then she began to populate the vacant sky with a montage of stars, clouds and other celestial objects created from paper clips and scraps of paper.
Her own daring shocked her, and for a moment she worried someone might notice. But when she stood to check, she saw everyone around her mired in their own daily routine: typing and sighing and checking the clocks in the corner of their monitors every five minutes, longing for the moment they could happily prance outside to wait in an interminable line of cars.
When Susan glanced back at her newly-formed firmament, she discovered that griffins and pegasi and other fanciful, cardboard beasts had come to dance among her celestial assemblage. She spotted a slit in the fabric with a clear blue streak behind it, and she ripped it open to discover a spectacular sky beyond--filled with painted white clouds and a lemon-crayon sun.
Emboldened by a joy she had never known, Susan leapt into the paper realm, roped a dragon, and flew away on cardboard wings and faith--leaving those with sadder lives and smaller dreams to tend the world she left behind.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, November 4th, 2010


One interesting note is that this story was inspired by a painting done by a friend of mine, Leonardo Amora Leite. The painting is entitled "Meu Drag„o I" (My Dragon I) and can be found on page nine of his portfolio at: www.amoraleite.com. I've also written a poem inspired by another one of his paintings, which puts him two-to-zero ahead of anyone else in that respect! This story kind of took on a life of its own as I wrote it. My only goal was to create a short flash, but it ended up with a poetic quality. I believe that sprouted from the brevity, which allowed me to work on a word by word basis and give it an overall cadence. I think it could be called a prose poem without raising too many eyebrows, but it is first and foremost a story.

- Christopher Kastensmidt

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