Molly has a shield. Molly has a sword. Molly has a helmet to protect her from the dragon. Her silver shield is so shiny and bright that it can cut a path of light through any darkness. Her sword is always by her side, sharpened and sheathed, ready to pull out if the dragon turns mean again. Before she puts on her silver helmet, she always rubs her bare scalp three times and makes a wish. Mommy calls it her “bald pate” and says it has magic power.

Molly has seen pictures of other little girls her age in her story books. Some of them have golden ringlets, some have wavy brown hair, some have beautiful kinky black hair. None of them have a magical bald pate. Molly knows she is special.

In the old days, the dragon was fierce and filled her with terror. Now he mostly curls up beside her and seems more of a companion. The doctors seem to think he’s her enemy, but Mommy says no, he just came to help her learn courage and strength. Mommy says don’t be afraid. And she isn’t.

In Molly’s picture books, the other little girls have houses with smoke curling out of the chimney, curtains at the window, and a cat in the front yard.  Molly’s home now is the hospital, with its friendly children’s ward, the doctors and nurses who love her, and her very own little room with drawings of dragons pinned to the walls.

The dragons she used to draw had huge sharp teeth and horrible red eyes and looked like they could eat her alive. The newest ones are gentle, almost purring. She reaches out a hand to pat the little pink and gold dragon she drew yesterday. He’ll make a good pet.

“I have to go now,” she tells him, “but I’ll be back soon.” When she finishes her hours of chemotherapy, she’ll snuggle in and tell him a story about little girls who make friends with dragons, but keep their shields bright and their swords sharp, and never give in to the darkness.

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Voice-Team (@voice-team)
1 year ago

I loved the mix of fantasy and reality here, well suited to celebrate heroism in childhood. Away from home, Molly is becoming aware of the conventional images of home other children her age are beginning to create in their art. But she accepts that home is where you are, where you live, and where you are loved. Molly’s view of home plays an essential part in showing us her true character. 

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
1 year ago

Oh, this story is so poignant. What superb descriptions, and love that Molly has been encouraged to fight her illness by comparing it to fighting dragons. It gives a real sense of hope!

Last edited 1 year ago by Carrie OLeary
Vishaal Pathak
Vishaal Pathak (@vishaal-pathak)
1 year ago

This is a beautiful story! 🙂
Molly’s resolve to not get intimidated by illness, and her imagination have indeed been captured in a very heartwarming way.

Last edited 1 year ago by Vishaal Pathak
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Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe (@eric-radcliffe)
1 year ago

Beautifully written Juma. I think Carrie OLeary has said it all. A hospital too can be a home.

Sandra James
Sandra James (@sandra-james)
1 year ago

A beautiful story, Juma. I especially loved the ‘bald pate’ and its magical powers. A special little girl and a very special story!

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Mary Wallace
Mary Wallace (@mary-wallace)
1 year ago

This was a truly beautiful story Juma. Home is where we are loved and give love. A children’s ward with loving staff, wonderful parents and pictures of dragons is a perfect fit here.

musing mind
musing mind (@musing-mind)
1 year ago

I feel positive that Molly will fight off her disease with the courage. Such a heart warming story.

Katy Bizi
Katy Bizi (@katy-bizi)
1 year ago

This truly is a unique point of view of the word “Home”. The story managed to bring to life the theme of the contest. Well done!

Susan Giles
Susan Giles (@susan-giles)
1 year ago

This story deserves to be placed in every Children’s Hospital in the country. The strength shown needs to be shared with all children.

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Susan Dawson
Susan Dawson (@susan-dawson)
1 year ago

I’m filling up here! So positive yet sad, and I see now where you are coming from with the childlike illustration.

Tejal Doshi
Tejal Doshi (@tejal-doshi)
1 year ago

Wow! I just finished reading this memorable and wonderful story and it’s got to be one of the best works I’ve read this year. Thinking of hardships as opportunities for growth is such a fantastic outlook. I love the part in the second paragraph where Molly says she knows she’s special. Even in that ‘knowing’, we see how unique she is. This story made it straight to my heart.

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