It’s that time again. Time for another prompt challenge. Just one more for this month to go. This weeks I had a little more time to prepare it, I didn’t wait until last minute to write it. Plus, it’s not as long as the last prompt challenges have been. I would love some feed back!
I was putting away my tools when I heard the clatter on the table. I jerked around, holding back a curse, knowing exactly what I would see. I took a deep breath and left the garage. It was the fifth time that my dragon had fallen apart. If I couldn’t keep my own dragon together, how was I supposed raise dragons for my father? It was the last test I needed to pass to finally please my father, and I was failing miserably at it.
“Felix?” My mother asked from the kitchen as I walked down the hall.
“Yeah, it’s me.” I answered back, changing course to head into the kitchen. I stopped in the archway and leaned against the frame. My mother kept a clean house and would only fuss if I walked into the kitchen in my work clothes. I was covered in grease, dirt, and possibly a little blood.
“Did you get your robot working?” She asked. Her back was turned to me as she stood over the stove. The aroma of her meatloaf filled the air, and my stomach grumbled. I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast and I felt like my stomach was eating itself.
“Mom, it’s a dragon. Not just a robot.” I said, raking my hands through my hair. “No, it’s not working. I thought I had it but it crumpled to the ground when it tried to take flight.” I balled up my fist. “I don’t know what I am doing wrong.”
“You will get it.” She said. She didn’t turn to look at me, but I could hear her smile.
“I’m going to go clean up.” I told her, pushing off the archway and walking down the hallway. I could hear my mother singing from the kitchen as I made my way to my room. She always seemed happiest when she was cooking dinner for the family.
I closed the door to my room and went straight to my bathroom, stripping off my dirty clothes and letting them drop to the floor. I turned the shower on and gave it a moment to heat up while I stared into the mirror. My green eyes looked bright, but it was because I was covered in so much dirt. I wiped at my face, only spreading around the grease and laughed. I was so dirty I looked as if I had eyeliner on. I pulled my black hair from the rubber band holding it and shook it out.
Steam started filling the bathroom and I watched as the mirror fogged up, blocking the view of my awesome muscles. Just kidding, my muscles are average, but I have had many girlfriends swoon over my rock hard abs.
I wanted to be a body builder, but my father convinced me it was a dead end career. I kept up my physique, but I started studying mechanics so that I could help him build and raise dragons.
I stepped into the warm shower, letting the water dampen my hair and flow down my shoulders. I then began the grueling process of scrubbing away the grease, dirt, and blood, wishing I could scrub away the disappointment as easily. I jumped when I heard a knock on my door and grabbed the shower wall, keeping myself from falling as my feet slipped around the bottom of the tub.
“What?” I shouted at the door.
“Hurry up and come to dinner. Mom said we can’t eat until you are at the table.” My younger brother, Derrick, shouted through the door. I growled at him, knowing he wouldn’t hear.
“I will be out in a minute.”
I rushed the rest of my shower, jumped out and dried off, walking into my room with a towel wrapped around my waist. I shuffled through my drawers and got out my nicest clothes. After all, mom had made a special dinner. Dad had an announcement to make, so mom made it an event.
I walked down the hall, hearing the voices of my parents and siblings talking away. Other than Derrick I had a younger sister, Kali. They were twins and only 15. My parents wanted to give me a sibling when I was 10, they just didn’t expect to have twins. I did everything in my power to set a good example for them. We had to keep up a good appearance and the only way to do that was to be a good person. My dad was the wealthiest man in the U.S. and the only person to successfully raise, or rather, create, dragons.
“Shall we eat?” I asked as I walked into the dining room. I took my seat across the table from the twins, with mom and dad at the ends of the table. They all quieted as mom began to pass around the food.
“Son,” My father said, looking at me. “How is this building going?” I knew this was coming. I knew it was going to be the first question he asked me, but it didn’t make it any easier to answer.
“I’m having some trouble with Prototype.” I told him. It was the first dragon I had built from scratch. As soon as I got him working I was going to insert a chip to give him a personality, the same one that I had built and raised in my last dragon that was destroyed in a fire.
“I can help!” Kali almost shouted. She wanted to work on dragons like my father and I. She was smart enough for it and even wrote the code for several dragons my father had sold. Dad just didn’t want her to work on the dragons other than coding. I didn’t understand it, but I didn’t push it.
“I could use some help.” I said under my breath. I picked at the food on my plate, my appetite no longer present.
“Fine.” Dad said. I jolted in my seat and slowly looked at my father.
“What?” Kali and I asked at the same time.
“You can work with him.” Dad said to Kali, making her smile so wide I thought her face might split in half.
“Are you serious?” Kali asked.
“Yes.” Dad said, he wasn’t a man of many words and he didn’t beat around the bush.
“Dear.” My mother said, looking at my father. “It’s time to tell them the news.” We all looked at my dad and watched him, waiting. He nodded and sat down his fork.
“As you all know,” he started. I was suddenly nervous. “I have been back and forth to the doctor lately, more than usual.” He took a drink of his water and sat his glass down slowly. I noticed the shake in his hand and it caused my heartbeat to speed up. “They found something last month and we have been waiting on the results.”
“We didn’t want to tell you until we knew what was going on.” My mother interjected.
“It seems that I have become ill. I have cancer in my blood and the doctors are not very hopeful.”
Really? That is what he wanted to tell us over dinner. That is what my mom made her award winning meatloaf for? This is not something that you tell someone over dinner. It’s not something you tell anyone over a good meal. What was his problem?
No one spoke for a good five minutes. We just stared at one another and our food. Kali started sniffling and I watched as tears rolled down her cheeks. I heard mom sniffling and caught her wiping away a tear. Derrick got up from his chair and left the room. Seconds later I heard his bedroom door slam shut.
“Dad.” I said, still trying to figure out what to say. What were you supposed to say in a situation like this? “How long do you have?”
“Six months at the most.” I felt as if a knife had been slammed into my chest. Kali got up and left the table as well, quickly followed by my mother. “Everything is going into your mother’s name.”
“Okay.” I said, trying to stay calm. I had to be the strong one in this situation. I had to show my family how to be strong and take the issue head on. I was crashing and burning on the inside, but I was keeping a cool front. My dad would need someone strong by his side.
“The business is going in your name.” He said, shocking me again. I was young, but my heart couldn’t take much more surprise.
“What?” I asked him, my eyes wide and my mouth dropped open.
“Your mother was never the one to run a business. She is a home maker and she likes it that way. She doesn’t want the business. You are the only one old enough to take it over. Your brother and sister are too young.”
“What if I don’t want it?” I covered my mouth with my hand and stared at my father, trying to see the illness. He didn’t look sick. “I can’t even build Prototype.” I told him quickly. “Maybe the doctors are wrong. Have you gotten a second opinion? Are there treatment options? Are you giving up so quickly? Why?” My mouth was like a broken dam, I couldn’t stop the flow of questions. “There has to be something we can do. Find a new doctor? Change your diet? Blood transfusion?” My father held up his hand and I stopped.
“We have covered every option. There is nothing I can do. The treatment would only make me sick. I want to be accountable for my last days with my family. I want to remember and to be there.”
“This isn’t right.” I said, raking my hand through my hair, which was still wet.
“Will you take it?”
“Take what?” My mind was racing. I was trying to think of solutions, it’s what I do. I always find a solution, but this time it wasn’t something I could solve. I wasn’t a doctor. I was a mechanic. I built dragons, coded their chips, and raised them while their AI adapted to the world around them.
“The business, Felix. Will you take the business?” My father stared at me, hope and desperation colored his honey brown eyes. My sister had his eyes. My brother and I had mom’s eyes. Kali reminded me of my dad more than anything. She had the drive and determination he had. She was smart and ruthless like him. And she could build a dragon as well and as quick as he could too. If I didn’t take the business, it would be sold and Kali would hate me.
“Yes.” I told my father. “I will take it, but as soon as Kali is old enough she will become my partner.” I told him. The corner of his lips lifted into a smile.
“I was hoping you would say that.” Dad said. Derrick had no desire to build dragons. He wanted to be a writer, and he was a good one already. “She wants to be a part of the business so bad. We will make her an intern for now.”
“As long as her grades are good.” I added. Dad’s smile grew wider.
“I know our family will be good in your hands.” He said to me, reaching over and grabbing my hand. “I am not asking you to replace me, do not put that much pressure on yourself. Just be the rock that they need. The twins are almost old enough to make their own path, and I know you will help guide them down the right road.”
“You talk like you are already dead.” I told him.
“No, I just don’t want to have to say this again. I want to go on like things are okay.” He sat back in his chair and rested his hands on his stomach. “But I want everyone to be ready when it is time for me to go.”
That night I couldn’t sleep, thinking about all the things my father would miss. He wouldn’t see his grandkids, or walk Kali down the aisle at her wedding, nor would he see Derrick make it in the world of authors. It wasn’t myself I was feeling sorry for, but my father. He still had so much to do in life.
I gave up trying to sleep and ended up in my work clothes in the garage. I threw all thoughts of my father’s impending death to the back of my mind and focused on Prototype. I had music playing over the tinkering of metal as I began putting the pieces back together again. I made sure all the bolts were tight and the clockwork mechanisms were in place. I tightened all the cables and cut away the extra pieces.
A few hours passed and all I had thought about was Prototype, I had never been so focused in my life. I stepped back from my work, placed my hands on my hips and waited. Nothing happened, which was a good sign. I picked up the chip that would become it’s AI and slipped it into the slot, turning it on and waited again.
Slowly, the eyes light up red then dimmed, turning green. A smile spread across my fast, but I tucked it away for later. It was working now, but would it fly?
“Fly.” I commanded it. It sat still, staring at me, cocking its head to the side. At least that was an improvement.
“I do not wish to fly at this hour.” Prototype said in a snooty tone. “Felix, why are you awake?”
I clapped my hands and shouted. I couldn’t believe it, I had made it work. I had just built my first robot dragon from scratch and it worked. “Fly.” I said again, hoping it would heed my request. “Please.” I added, remembering what Prototype used to be. My dragon before, one my father had built for me, was snarky and hated commands. He was my best friend, until he broke. My father wouldn’t fix it for me and told me it needed a whole new body. It was my test.
The dragon flapped his wings and lifted from the table, taking a spin around the room. I whooped again and jumped. It really worked.
“May I land now?” Prototype asked.
“Yes.” I told him, unable to contain my excitement.
“What took you so long?” The dragon asked me as he landed on the table.
“I just needed a push to get you back.” I pat him on the head and he purred. Okay, it wasn’t a purr. It was close to a growl but it wasn’t anger. It was a happy growl.
“It’s good to be back.” The dragon said. “What did I miss?”
I had passed my father’s test. I was ready to take over the business. I could do this, I could make him proud. And now that I had Prototype it wouldn’t be so hard.
“You didn’t need my help after all.” Kali said from the doorway, causing me to jump.
“Nope, but it’s time you started building your own.” I told her.
“Now?” She asked. I nodded. It was what her and I both needed. Mom and Derrick would throw themselves into their work. Kali and I would work alongside each other and my father, learning his tricks and secrets. We only had a little time left with my father, but we would enjoy every minute of it.
Thanks for reading!!