I am the Father of Dragons. I am a descendant from the bloodline of the noble Targaryens from the island of Dragonstone in the vast empire of Valyria. Once proud lords of Westeros, our blood is thick with fire and ash. At least this is what the AncestryDNA test I took a while ago told me.
I now have two of my very own dragons, which are the result of dragon eggs purchased on eBay: a son, who is roughly a teenager in dragon years, and a newly hatched daughter who is the equivalent of a toddler. I sit and watch my eldest dragon, Jakarnum the Destroyer, play in the town’s youth baseball league.
After the game I wait for my dragon son near the backstop. He always waits until everyone is gone before he approaches. I think he’s embarrassed by me. I try to rub his head and tell him it was a good game, even if he did sulk most of the time in right field.
He yanks his head away from my hand and demands that I stop treating him like a little child.
I say, “You have to listen to me because I am the Father of Dragons.” I say this very loud and regal so the last of the parents loading their children into their station wagons can hear.
“Well,” he says, “sometimes I wish you weren’t.”
Then I say, “Maybe I wish I wasn’t either.” There is a pregnant moment, where the words and their meaning hang in the air between us. I can sense the station wagon folk staring. Then he flies away.
I mutter, “No.”
But he is off.
I look down at my shirt, which reads, FATHER OF DRAGONS. I look at my short cut-off jean shorts with fire streaks down each side. Maybe I do embarrass him. The way I stand up every time he’s at bat and scream, “Here comes the dragon power! The Father of Dragons commands you my son to hit a grand slam.” Yes, maybe.
During the week he is gone I save a tremendous amount on raw meat. Though the house feels empty with just his little sister and me.
When he arrives back home a few days later we are cordial to one another. We try not to get in each other’s way. It’s a cooling down period.
After things settle back to normal, I ask him if he can fly me to the grocery store to pick up some milk and eggs. He used to do this all the time. Before, whenever he would say he didn’t want to, I would say, okay, I’ll fly myself. And I’d stand outside his bedroom window flapping my arms. He would laugh and eventually come out and fly me where I needed to go. This time though, he ignores me. I’m out there for over an hour flapping my arms with no notice from him. I bang on his window and begin to yell, and he puts his earphones on and sticks napkins into the surrounding area so the tiny speakers don’t fall out of his giant dragon ear holes. I slam the car door and leave. He’s won. I’m acting like the teenager now.
The next day I receive a call from the principal to come in and see him. My dragon son’s grades have been slipping. I don’t believe this. He just brought home his report card with straight As. The teachers have no choice, the principal tells me. He has been threatening to burn their houses down if they do not give him the highest of marks. I cannot believe this.
As I leave the office, my son Jakarnum the Destroyer, or Jake, as he likes to be called now, sees me. He screams out, “You are the worst Father of Dragons ever,” before unleashing a shriek that shakes the halls and dashes off. The principal’s car is set afire later that afternoon.
I am worried he is on drugs. I check his room when he’s at school. Under his bed, I find a horde of shiny objects. Just as I feared: this is a definite warning sign. When he gets home I confront him. I show him I found his stash. He is quiet for a long time, but when I ask him who showed him how to do this, he at last shouts, “You did. I learned it by watching you.” This is true; I do have a large amount of shiny objects under my bed.
I speak with the school guidance counselor and tell her my concerns. She says that it is part of a dragon’s nature to horde shiny, precious objects. But she does not understand why I do it and recommends I seek counseling. I ask if maybe this recent change in my son’s nature has something to do with sexuality. Maybe he is confused. She shrugs her shoulders and asks that I leave through her window so that my son does not see me in her office. She just purchased a new Volvo and would like for it not to be charred.
One of his friends passes by when school lets out, a skinny kid who wears baggy clothes and a porkpie hat. I ask him if he knows what’s going on with my son. What is causing him to act out? The boy stares at me for a moment and says, “If you don’t know, old man, you are even more out of it than Jake says.”
I don’t like the way he mouths off at me. I instinctively make the motion for my dragon son to breathe fire all over him like we used to do when he was younger and creditors would knock on my door. But my son is not by my side. I am just a sad father, out of place, and alone.
I’m a single dad with one dragon going through mood swings and another at home going through the typical terrible two behavior, crawling around the house, scraping the walls, sneaking out to maul cows in the pasture.
I arrive home and find my son packing up his belongings into a tiny sack. Mostly shiny things. “Those are mine,” I say. He gets in my face; hot steam from his nostrils envelops me. “Why don’t you talk to me?” I say.
“You want to talk? Now you want to talk?” he says.
“Yes,” I say. “I do.”
“Ever since Elestorer the Gorger hatched, you haven’t paid any attention to me. You’re always busy fishing for her meals or hiding her from warlocks.”
I realize he’s right. But, I say, I try to spend time with him as well.
“We don’t even wrestle together any longer,” he says.
“Last time we wrestled you threatened to claw my intestines out if I ever touched you again.”
“That’s because you were grabbing and twisting my wings. I told you I didn’t like that.”
“Okay. Okay. I won’t grab your wings,” I say.
I have an idea. I tell him to get his little sister.
That night we go, all three of us, and set the school guidance counselor’s Volvo on fire. Under the light of the gas-fueled fire, we dance, and embrace one another the way that real families do.