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By Jacob Tashoff

April 12

     Miss Betsy likes to check over my journal so she can see what I’m thinking, but I’m okay with that because Miss Betsy is nice which you already know so I won’t write anything bad about her. The only thing I don’t like about Miss Betsy reading my journal is that she says I have to make sure I use proper grammar because how am I going to do it in class if I can’t even do it in my own journal? She has a good point, I guess (at least that’s what Mama said the last time she visited when I told her what Miss Betsy said and if Mama says it’s a good idea than it must be) so I’m going to have to start doing that. I don’t want to make Miss Betsy mad.

     Mama visited last week, which means I probably won’t even see her on my birthday because she can’t visit that often, and its super sad because nurse Dorothy said she was going to bake a cake and I bet it’s going to be chocolate because chocolate’s my favorite and it’s Mama’s favorite too. But she’s all the way in New York, which is super far away, and she’s going to

school just like me, except George said she’s learning to kill people. I don’t believe him because Mama’s nice so she wouldn’t want to kill people, but George said he saw her gun and she was wearing camouflage (Miss Betsy helped me spell that) but all the soldiers wear camouflage, even the doctor ones. George is a liar though, but I already told you that two weeks ago at the beginning of the month, and plus I’m sure Mama is actually learning how to help other soldiers with medicine and bandages and things like that.

     Miss Betsy said that I should start talking about how I ended up at Krieger’s Home For Troubled Youths even though youths is just boys because there’s no girls here but youths sounds more welcoming, at least that’s what George always says, because writing it down is a good way to remember it, and I don’t want to forget because, like Miss Betsy said, the story is a part of who I am and if I forget it then that would be like forgetting myself and I absolutely don’t want to forget myself!

     I got here probably like a year ago but I can’t remember the actual date because it was so long ago. Mama told me I was going to come here cause the mean old sergeant (Miss Betsy helped me spell that too) didn’t like when I made lots of noise, especially in the barracks (that’s what Mama calls it). All the other soldier bases we lived had houses for the soldiers that lived there, but Mama said this one was a special training base so everyone had to live in the barracks, even the kids. The sergeant was ultra mean especially to the kids. There was me and two others and the sergeant always yelled at us when we slept in or were too loud at night.

     The first time the dragons showed up at the base the sergeant yelled at me very loudly and Mama got mad at him for getting mad at me but she couldn’t say anything about it cause he’s her boss and you have to respect important people like your boss and Doctor Krieger. I heard the dragons when Mama and the other adults were at training and they were roaring super loudly so I had to go find them so I could protect everyone from them with my spells. I ran as fast as I could to where I heard the dragons and they kept getting louder and it was very scary but I had to protect Mama from them. When I finally got there I shouted for Mama and she looked at me and she looked upset that I was there cause I wasn’t supposed to go to where she was training and then the sergeant saw me and he looked real mad. I shouted to Mama about the dragons and then I looked around for them but I couldn’t see them so I just started shouting the spells at where I thought they were.

     There were big explosions going off so that’s where I looked to shout. But when I started shouting the sergeant ran at me and grabbed me by the shirt and started shouting at me but I couldn’t hear him over the roaring of the dragons and me shouting my spells. The sergeant pushed me and that made Mama mad so she ran over to me and stood in front of and I covered my ears and rolled into a ball as I kept shouting because the dragons were still roaring just as loudly. Mama picked me up and carried me away and I think I got her shirt a little wet with my tears, but I kept saying my spells cause I had to keep Mama safe. I hoped the dragons would eat the sergeant.

     I made it onto the sergeant’s bad list for fighting the dragons and the next time they showed up he got super angry at me. I was shouting my spells and woke everyone up which I was sorry for, but I was just trying to keep them all safe from the dragons. When the sergeant heard me, he made everyone file outside in the pouring rain even though the dragons were flying around outside still, and they were super mad too, and when he yelled at Mama about not being able to keep her brat quiet at night because sometimes people needed a goddamn good night’s sleep, and all the other people in the barracks got mad at me for shouting again just because it was raining, even though I was shouting because of the dragons, not the rain, Mama kneeled down in front of me and grabbed my hands and said that I was going to go stay with a friend of hers named doctor Krieger in Boston which is in a whole different state than where Mama is now, and I was going to still get to go to school and no it wasn’t my fault I had to leave and no she wasn’t coming with me because she still had to stay there, but she would visit, and they wouldn’t get mad if the dragons made me wake everyone up. The dragons left after that, and we all went back inside the barracks, but I didn’t sleep at all that night.

     Then I came here and I go to class with Miss Betsy and she teaches us all sorts of cool things. But I’m getting tired now so I’m going to stop here and say goodnight. Goodnight, journal.


April 15

     George stole my pudding today at lunch. Luckily Miss Betsy was there and she made him give it back. It was chocolate pudding, which is my favorite. George said he only stole mine because his pudding cup wasn’t filled up all the way, but Miss Betsy told him that he’s not allowed to take other people’s food, especially not their pudding cups. I gave him a little of my pudding when she had her back to us because he looked sad and I felt bad. Doctor Krieger stopped into the class in the afternoon, which he does sometimes.

     Doctor Krieger is nice, except he doesn’t think that the dragons are real. He likes to ask me how they’re doing when I tell him that they showed up, but I can tell he’s just being nice. He always looks at me over the top of his glasses, smiles, and pats me on the shoulder before asking. He looks over his glasses whenever he’s just being nice to one of us, which is a lot because he’s a nice person. He doesn’t want to hurt our feelings, but it’s his job to make sure we behave appropriately.

     It was mac and cheese for lunch today because it’s Wednesday. Mac and cheese is my favorite. The broccoli isn’t ever good, but that’s probably because I’m a kid and kids don’t like vegetables. Maybe they’ll taste better when I’m an adult. They gave us carrots too, which I like better than broccoli. And I lost my watch! I don’t know what could have happened to it. I hope I find it soon. It’s probably getting late again, even though I can’t really tell without my watch, and the nurses don’t like when we stay up late so I guess now is a good time to say goodnight. Goodnight, journal.


April 19

     Today I had a meeting with Doctor Krieger. He likes to meet with all the boys once a week to talk about how their week went and if they were having any trouble with the other boys. George always complains about me being loud but I’m not ever loud, even when the dragons show up. Well, most of the time. Doctor Krieger always asks me if I’m having problems with George but I always so no because I know he’d get mad if I said yes and he’d find out cause Doctor Krieger would talk to him about it and he’d know it was me who said it because Abraham would never. He’s too scared of George. I told him that my watch was missing and he said he would keep an eye open for it.

     The dragons showed up while I was in my meeting. I was telling Doctor Krieger what I thought they looked like because I’ve never actually seen them. I bet that they’re all different colors and have huge wings. Mama gave me a book about dragons for my birthday two years ago. I don’t think there’s any Chinese dragons because they seem like nice dragons. Western European (I knew this one all by myself!) dragons are the mean ones and I bet they’re the ones that keep attacking.

     As I was describing all the different colors I bet the dragons come in, there was a huge roar outside the room. I jumped out of my seat and ran out the door and Doctor Krieger followed me and the roar sounded like it came from the kitchen and I liked the lunch ladies so I didn’t want a dragon to eat them. Doctor Krieger is taller than me so he made it to the kitchen first and just as I made it to the door he came out and squatted down in front of me and grabbed me by the shoulders and told me that a pot had just fallen and everything was okay but I insisted on checking anyway because I just had to make sure that the lunch ladies were okay.

     He let go of my shoulders and I peeked inside the room. There was a pot laying on the floor. I swore that I had heard a dragon but Doctor Krieger said I was wrong. I think the dragon was just hiding from me though because he was probably a small one like a wyvern or a wurm. I think it’s getting late, but I don’t know how late. I hope I find my watch soon. Goodnight, journal.


April 23

     Today is George’s birthday. He got super mad because nurse Olivia, who’s his favorite nurse, was running late so she couldn’t wish him a happy birthday with everyone else. She did when she finally made it though, and she brought him a birthday cake that they made him share with the rest of us. I got an extra big piece. George broke the frame of the window by his bed because he was so mad. Nobody got mad at him for it, though, because he explained to them why he did it and he said he was sorry so they forgave him.

     I made him a birthday card and he said that he liked it a lot and nurse Olivia helped him hang it on the wall. I drew a birthday cake on it and some balloons and wrote happy birthday, George! in big letters on the front and on the inside I said that I hoped he had a good birthday and thanks for the cake even though he didn’t want to share it.

George, Abraham, and I played tag today outside. I was it first, but Abraham is slower than me so I tagged him. He managed to tag George and George chased me all around the field roaring super loud, but not as loud as the dragons. It was fun. I think George had a good birthday, because he said he had fun too after we had to go back inside for dinner. None of the other kids knew it was George’s birthday because we have super small classes and none of them are in the room with George and Abraham and me, anyway. We had a big table all to ourselves.

     Doctor Krieger read us a bedtime story tonight. It was about a king who wouldn’t get out of the bathtub and somehow all the people living in the castle wound up in the bathtub with him until the page pulled the plug. I had to ask what a page was and doctor Krieger said that it was someone who helped out knights when they had to get ready for battle. I think knights are super cool because they fight dragons. I wish I could be a knight because I think it would be way easier to scare off the dragons when they come if I had a big suit of armor and a sword than it is to scare them off with the spells I have to put up all around the building to keep them out.

     Last night I had a dream I was a wizard like in the stories that doctor Krieger sometimes tells us about King Arthur, who’s a hero with a wizard friend named Merlin. Merlin is good at magic. I bet he could easily make dragons go away. I dreamed that I lived in a big castle with a knight as a best friend and together we rescued princesses and fought dragons. But then I woke up when nurse Olivia opened the curtains because it was time for breakfast and then class right after. It’s getting late, and I’m getting pretty tired, so goodnight, journal.


April 24

     Today we learned Greek Mythology in history. Miss Betsy said we would keep talking about the stories tomorrow, and maybe even more after that, which I hope we do, because the stories were really awesome. There were tons of heroes who fought crazy monsters and there were gods with crazy powers who could shoot lightning or speak to fish. Speaking to fish is an awesome power. I would speak to sharks because sharks look really cool and I bet they would have good stories. I liked the story of Bellerophon (thanks Miss Betsy) because he had a flying horse and I think having a flying horse would be a great way to get around.

     My favorite god is Artemis because she’s really good with a bow and arrow and she’s the goddess of nature and I love animals. Plus, I like the moon because when I can see the moon that means there won’t be any dragons because the dragons don’t like it when the sky’s clear. I can see the moon right now too, and it’s big and bright. It’s definitely a full moon because it looks so round. I think it’s time I go to bed, though, because it’s probably late, and I’m upset because I still haven’t found my watch. Goodnight, journal.

April 26

     I counted and it’s been eleven days since I lost my watch. I think maybe someone stole it. I told doctor Krieger that and he said he would look for it but I shouldn’t accuse people of doing bad things like stealing if I don’t know for sure.      But I looked everywhere I’m allowed to go and the only place I’m not is the other boys’ rooms. I couldn’t find my watch in the cafeteria or in me and George and Abraham’s room or in the classroom or in the art room so I think one of the other boys stole it and they have it in their room somewhere. Doctor Krieger did promise to look for it though, so hopefully he finds it. I like being able to tell the time. I think it’s time for me to go to bed now. See you tomorrow, journal.


April 29

     Today is my eleventh birthday! We had a small party just like we did for George, except I got my cake on time. George was mad about it at first but I made sure to give him an extra big piece so he wouldn’t get too upset. That made him happy, which is good because George likes to hit people when he gets really mad and I don’t want to get hit because one of the sergeants I met at one of Mama’s bases told me that if someone hits me I have to hit them back and the last time George and I fought doctor Krieger got very mad. He called Mama and she made a special visit and she got mad at me too and I don’t like making Mama mad so I promised, promised, not to fight George anymore. George and Abraham gave me a cool birthday card that they made together. They drew Pegasus on the front because they remembered how cool I think Pegasus is and they wrote happy birthday inside. George even wrote that he forgave me for when I woke him up last month shouting because of the dragons. I think Miss Betsy made him write that.

     Doctor Krieger and Miss Betsy and all the nurses played tag with us. I tagged doctor Krieger twice! Miss Betsy tagged me and George. Abraham didn’t get tagged once, which was impressive because he’s so small and slower than everyone else. I think everyone was going a little easy on him, but it made him happy. I wouldn’t go easy on George, even if he was slower than everybody else.

     I got a present from Mama in the mail. It was a brand-new watch, which is great because I still haven’t found the one I lost, and doctor Krieger didn’t find it anywhere, but one of the other boys who I think was named Nicholas left two days ago and I know he liked to steal things because I heard the nurses talking about it one night when I was supposed to be asleep. I think it’s good he’s gone so he doesn’t steal my new watch too. The new watch has an alarm on it but I probably won’t use that because nurse Olivia always wakes us up in the morning in time for breakfast. It also has a stopwatch which I can use when George, Abraham, and I race so we can see who’s the fastest.

     The dragons haven’t come at all this month which I thought was crazy because of the expression April showers bring May flowers, and the dragons always shows up when it rains. Only show up when it rains. They only come at night, and especially only when it’s supposed to storm, when they’re really hard to see because the nurses turn all the lights off at nine o’clock for bed time and there’s clouds all through the sky. The dragons are clever, but I’m thankful for it because I think they would be really scary to look at so I’m okay not seeing them.

     Abraham is scared of the dragons too, I think, because whenever they show up he huddles under his blankets and plugs his ears. He says he’s scared of the thunder, not dragons, but the thunder is really just the dragons roaring. I hope they don’t come this month. That would make this the best month ever, especially if Mama visits like she promised. I’m yawning a lot now, so it’s probably a good time to go to sleep. Goodnight, journal.


April 30

     The nurses were watching the news when we went to go get breakfast this morning. The weather was on and the weatherman was talking about how a cold front was going to be passing over Boston soon and that thunderstorms would follow. That meant dragons. I don’t think that the dragons will show up tonight, which means that there won’t be any dragons at all this month which like I said before would make this the best month ever.

     Mama called and said she wouldn’t be able to visit, which made me a little sad because she hasn’t visited in a couple weeks, but she promised she would visit next week and even said she had gotten permission from her supervisor to come visit me so that made me feel better. I told Abraham and George at breakfast that there would probably be dragons showing up soon and George told me that I had better not wake him up or else. I remember the last time I woke George up.

     He was mad because he had only just fallen asleep and he had had to talk to mean old Mrs. Jenkins that day who visits sometimes to see how all the boys here are doing and who nobody likes, and he told me to shut up, only with some bad words thrown in that I can’t write down because Abraham likes to read my notebook when he thinks I don’t know and doctor Krieger always gets mad when people use bad language around Abraham.

     I promised George I would try my best to not wake him up, but I told myself that it wouldn’t be my fault if he woke up. It would be his fault for not being a heavy sleeper and the dragons’ fault for being too loud. George gets really mad when he gets woken up too early though, so when the dragons show up again I’ll have to make sure I stay as quiet as possible.

     The rest of the day was boring, except we talked about some more Greek Myths. Miss Betsy told us about the Odyssey, and how the hero Odysseus was stuck wandering all over the place for ten years before he managed to get home. Being away from home for ten years would be terrible. I’d miss all my friends and especially Mama. I’m getting super tired now, journal, and I have to get lots of good night sleeps so that I’m prepared for when the dragons finally come again. Goodnight, journal.


May 3

     This morning, the weatherman said it was going to rain tomorrow night. That means that there’s going to be dragons soon. I have to make sure I remember all the spells I have to cast to keep the dragons out. Sorry for the short entry today, journal, but I have to spend lots of time preparing. And nothing really happened today, anyway. Goodnight, sleep tight, journal. Mama always used to say that to me. And always sweet dreams too. Sweet dreams, journal.


May 4

     I’m sorry I didn’t write in you last night, journal, but was just way too crazy and I didn’t have time to. You’ll understand once I tell you the whole story. And I’m going to put it under the date for yesterday because that’s when it happened and I still want to write about what happens today later so I have to keep today’s space open.

     The dragons did come last night. They were super angry, and I could tell because the window frame that George had cracked on his birthday rattled when they roared. I didn’t try to sleep till late, because no one else knows the right spells to keep the dragons out. It takes a while to say them all, and I have to make sure I’m quiet so I don’t wake anyone else up. The nurses say that I don’t have to worry about that because they’re heavy sleepers, but I still remember the last time George woke up and it wasn’t fun.

     The dragons sometimes get angry at me for putting up spells so they can’t get inside, even though there’s no way they could know it’s me doing it, unless they can hear me which would be crazy, because I stay quiet. I always start with a spell to make the building fireproof. The dragons don’t breathe fire a lot here, because I think they realize that they can’t get into the building that way, but in the beginning they used to do it a lot, and I could see their white flames shoot past the window.

     One thing people don’t realize about casting a spell is it only works if you can hear yourself saying it, which is why I worry about waking up George, because when the dragons get really loud I have to shout. I was right about probably having to shout tonight, but George forgave me for the last time he woke up and the birthday card I made him is still hanging on the wall, so maybe he won’t get too mad when he comes back. I got through the spell on the building fast as I can, because it’s the longest and really hard to remember and I don’t know how to spell the words so I can’t write it down and read it, and it’s the most important one so I can’t let the dragons distract me. Then I cast a spell on the window with the cracked frame, because it’s the easiest way for the dragons to get in.

     I made sure I stayed quiet, but I could already hear the dragons and I knew they were going to be loud tonight. I finished the window spell, and that’s when I saw the first white flame rush past the window. I quickly got ready to cast extra shield spells when the roaring really got going. I started to speak louder so I could keep hearing myself and the roars get louder with me. If they got any louder I would be shouting and George would wake up and Abraham would probably get really upset and when Abraham gets upset the nurses have to come in and calm everyone down, and sometimes when George gets upset too.

     I thought the dragons were taking turns roaring so that it was always loud because there weren’t any breaks in the roars. I think they really wanted to get in tonight, but I don’t know why. That’s one thing I haven’t been able to figure out yet, and no one seems to know the answer. I make sure to ask doctor Krieger each week, but I don’t ask Mrs. Jenkins because she got mad at me the first time I asked, and ranted about how dragons aren’t real and then sent me off to lunch in a huff. Lunch was mac and cheese that day, so that made it better

     The dragons kept rising in volume and by then I didn’t care if I woke George up with my spells because I absolutely had to shout because I absolutely needed to be able to hear myself and keep the extra shields up so the dragons couldn’t get in for whatever their reason is.

     I started shouting over the dragons, louder than I’ve ever shouted before, and George woke up, and threw his pillow at me and told me to shut up with the same bad words as the last time, but this time he’s shouting it over and over, and I think he might even try to come over to my bed to make me shut up, but then Abraham woke up, and he hears me shouting out my spells and he hears George yelling at me and I bet he can still hear the dragons roaring outside because I know I could, and he started to scream and wrapped his pillow around his head to cover his ears and the room was absolutely full of noise and I could barely hear myself over the crazy noise and I could barely even remember the words to the spell I was casting and then all of a sudden the nurses are coming into our room and the light from the hallway was spilling in and casting big shadows on the wall, and then I saw nurse Olivia and she went over to comfort George and she walked him out of the room as he shouted about how I need to shut up because he wants to sleep and he can’t even understand what I’m saying and it makes him mad, but he let nurse Olivia lead him out of the room and another nurse went over to check if Abraham was ok and all of a sudden there was a break in the noise when the dragons stop roaring. My shouts echoed after but I made myself stop. Abraham was still screaming and two of the nurses carried him out of the room. The roaring started up again, only quieter this time, and there were breaks in between the roars.

     Nurse Becca, one of the nurses that’s extra nice to me, walked over to me with a glass of water and one of those pills that make me feel sleepy, but I didn’t take it yet because I had to make sure the dragons were gone. Nurse Becca said that they were, and I listened for the roars and I could hear them getting quieter which means the dragons were definitely leaving. I said I’m sorry for waking up George and Abraham, but I just had to, I had to, because otherwise the dragons would get in and then we’d all be screwed, but I didn’t say screwed, I used one of those bad words that doctor Krieger doesn’t like, and then I apologized for my language and I took the pill. Nurse Becca said she wasn’t upset that I had woken up the other two, and that she would make sure they fell back asleep and that they knew I wanted to apologize to them. I wanted to say that no I didn’t want to apologize because I was keeping them safe from the dragons, but I could feel my tongue getting heavy in my mouth and my eyelids didn’t want to stay open so I just nodded and then lay back on my bed and close my eyes as nurse Becca left. Well, that’s what happened. See you tonight, journal.

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