“Once upon a time, there was a boy. He was magical and special. But an evil wizard cursed him from the start, and the boy knew hardship from a young age. Hardship only made the boy stronger in the end; turmoil molded him into a prince of men, yet all through his years…”
“Franklin, what are you doing in there?” a voice called from outside the bathroom.
The unshaven man quickly threw his glass of whiskey in the shower.
“Nothing…I was uh, getting my story together.”
“What just fell in the bathroom?” The voice asked in apprehension,
“Toothbrush wouldn’t stay on this sink, it’s so slippery. “
“Are you going to be okay tonight?”
Franklin quickly put on his smile and swung the bathroom door open to alleviate his friend’s concerns.
The other man, turned away, repeats his question,
“Yea I’ll be okay” Franklin’s expression fades
“Yea, good man, good,” his roommate chuckles, “and enough with the weird bathroom stuff.”
They engaged in regular talk then, but Frank had already started to filter it out. Anthony was going out to dinner tonight, lady friend, friends, and others, Frank didn’t really know why. Anthony was always going out to dinners, it was an easy way to socialize, Franklin guessed.
“It’s going to be the greatest.” Anthony ended focusing mostly on fastening his cuffs.
Franklin peered down at his own cuff which was rolled halfway up his arm. He glanced up to find Anthony also peering. Franklin felt the silent disapproval and tried to steer attention elsewhere.
“So I was getting my story together in there.”
Anthony looked back down to his cuff, “What story?”
“I came up with a new story, it’s really good.”
“It’s not the dragonboy story again is it?”
“No, It’s a dragonboy story,” Franklin spat back at him.
“That’s great then.”
“Dragonboy then had to leave the fire sword with Narsol.”
“But that’s his enemy,”
“Right, but he has to give it to him,” Franklin continued, “Dragonboy is afraid of his own power, so he gives it to Narsol, thus allowing him to be defeated.”
“But why?” asked the frail bathroom attendant,
“The fire sword is too powerful, everything done with it ends up making things worse. Without the struggle for power he had lost his respect for it, and maybe more importantly for everything that it wasn’t.
Dragonboy had been stronger than Narsol the whole time, but the sword had made him sloppy. Narsol was clever, he was a warlock, he didn’t fight dragonboy, he just made trouble for him.”
Louis leaned his head back on the tile to consider the story for a moment. Franklin was sitting next to him on the floor, and watched the attendant intently for feedback.
Louis wrinkled his face as he thought about the repercussions of Dragonboy’s tale.
“So does Dragonboy kill him after?”
“No Liedek, the elf guardian, does.”
“So Liedek finally catches him?”
“Yea Narsol was so caught up with Dragonboy, that by the time he had the fire sword, he didn’t think of Liedek as a threat. He ends up taking an arrow to his face because he was arrogant. Narsol forgot all his cleverness when power started becoming easy to him, which was what had made him different from the tyrants before him.”
Louis let out a mixture of a sigh and a whistle,
“I don’t know man, it sounds good, but it’s really confusing, I don’t think Dragonboy really does enough.”
“Well I can’t spend all my time talking about the main character; no one else would get development!”
Louis scratched his thin mustache, “But man, he does like three things, and the rest is all about Narsol and The elf prince guy.”
“He’s the false hero man, it’s all about how great he is, but in the end he mostly stops things from changing.”
“I don’t know,” Louis said, “I think you need to work on it more.”
Franklin stretched and hobbled up to his feet, “Well you’ve been a gentlemen Louis, but I think our time here has come to an end.”
Louis didn’t get it, because he was trying too hard to get it. Franklin could get it, but he was only good at fantasy, in reality nothing ever made sense. He’d have to get home now, today had been embarrassing enough.
The bistro Rosalie had a very strict reservation policy. Franklin and the others sat in the waiting room. They waited for the wait staff to tell them that the clock said it was okay to fill the mostly empty restaurant.
Franklin sat between Anthony’s girl, P something, and G something, Anthony’s co-worker.
“How are you doing Greg?”
“My name’s Jeff”
Franklin laughed nervously, “Sorry, I’m bad about names”
“Well anyway Jeff, are you familiar with the idea of a Paragon?”
Jeff sighed, “Not really.”
“It’s like a hero, but it’s a specific kind of hero. It’s someone who fulfills and upholds all the values a society is based on, like bravery, strength, kindness, cleverness that sort of thing.”
“But what I find most interesting about these heroes, is how they aren’t really very heroic.”
“Why is that?”
“Because Societies have problems, every single one has dark aspects. It’s poor, its marginalized etc. “
“So they’re not heroic?”
“Yea, because only the well fed become strong, the taught become intelligent.”
“So society gives those things to people who sustain it. It gave them power.”
“So they never act in a real heroic way. All their actions are ultimately to preserve the society, and by proxy their status.”
“If he helps society, he helps.”
“But what about everything else-“Franklin stopped short, Jeff had casually turned away.
Franklin tightened his lips, but didn’t try to continue. He decided to stare at the floor until the dinner started. Eventually a host came and shuffled them towards their seats.
Franklin felt a tiny poke in his back.
“Hold on a second.” A voice whispered.
Franklin turned to see Anthony’s girl in the crowd. She gestured him to the back and lagged behind.
“So tonight seems exciting”,
“I guess,” Franklin sighed, “I’m not very good at dinners.”
“But from what Anthony has told me, tonight is very special.”
Franklin is nodded slowly, until it finally hit him.
“Well he is really taken with you Penelope. A-all he talks about is how super you are.”
He felt hot with embarrassment, and caught up with everyone else. He got the second to last chair and sat down silently.
“It’s all smooth sailing from here.” He whispered to himself.
Franklin walked home smelling of lavender. He kept his head low to avoid suspicion and pushed homewards. He didn’t walk to dinner, but finding himself with no other alternative, it was no question. Many times his own characters became a source of solace. Imagining the wise elf prince Liedek made it much easier to stay brave.
“No one likes me.”
“I’m sure it seems that way,” Liedek would say, “You do simply not understand your friends.”
Franklin wrung his lips, “I don’t understand anything.”
“Sure you do, you just need to have a strong heart while you figure it out.”
Franklin crossed a highway silently pondering his worth. He stopped at the convenience station on the other side. Quietly he fumbled a soda through the line of apathic customers.
He drank deeply and remembered that the past is the past. Life would be better, it could only get better. One day he would be like Anthony, gleaming and smiling with a hundred friends. He just had to stay true to his heart.
After a few more blocks of walking, Franklin finally found his home. He found the handle locked, and that it would not give even with the key. He whimpered and slid to the ground after several minutes of trying.
“Don’t worry,” whispered Liedek,”You have the heart of a dragon.”