It was a familiar feeling. When Deothora opened her eyes, however, it was almost as if they remained closed! The air rushing by her face somehow felt different too, like before, yet even colder! Though she felt the same security as she had before, there was something different, like it was................heightened, somehow. The familiar greeting rumbled down to her, 'Oh good, you're awake!' That goofy, almost cartoonish face she had grown to love now loomed into view as she craned her gaze upwards, but as she did, her attention focused, not on the green furry thing that was transporting her, but on WHERE he was transporting her! 'Where ARE we?' she wondered. Before she could voice her concerns, however, as if reading her thoughts, Elothar answered with his powerful, yet gentle voice, 'Where do you THINK we are?' Deothora didn't answer for the longest time, as she took in the dark beauty around her. Somehow she knew the answer, of course, but the glory of it all literally took her breath away!
Deothora had gone to her bed several hours previously, but had spent that time tossing & turning, drifting here & there, finally falling into a troubled sleep just a little before finding herself transported to these dark reaches. Well, 'dark reaches' was actually not quite correct; there was light all around, the light of what seemed countless stars, like pinholes of light shining through a piece of black construction paper. Finding her voice once more, Deothora tremblingly answered the question ( which she had all but forgotten ), with yet another question, 'are we in outer space?' With an almost startling roar, which sounded strangely like a laugh, Elothar responded with another question; 'outer space', what's that?' 'If you mean the heavens beyond, then yes; we ARE in Space & Time, yet outside of both, in a manner of speaking.' Satisfied, yet somehow dissatisfied with this answer, Deothora was content to let her gaze wander, as she rested secure in those mighty, but gentle paws.
Soaring slowly by, it seemed, were blazing jewels of all shapes & sizes. Some of the shapes, she noticed, were more or less recognizable as the planets she had grown up studying in her astronomy books. Astronomy, for some reason, had always held the greatest fascination for Deothara! Ever since she was a little girl, she had always dreamed of soaring through the heavens, viewing these jewels from a safe, yet wonderful distance. up close & personal, you might say! Surrounded as she was by the beauty of the heavens, Deothora had almost forgotten the cold darkness that surrounded her, though she shouldn't have been surprised, safe & secure as she was, in the folds of those giant paws!
As they soared through the heavens, something occurred to Deothora that had previously not even been a concern; 'How is it that I'm not having any trouble breathing, as high as we are?' Feeling the almost imperceptible laughter in his gentle voice, she felt as well as heard the dragon's short reply, 'you're with me!' 'When you fly with me, Time & Space are not a concern; the life that you experience in the 'everyday' is constrained by Time & Space!' 'No one could bear these heights, not to mention the cold darkness, on their own, but in my presence, these constraints are no more!' Silently pondering these things in her heart, Deothora returned her gaze to the heavens that surrounded her. She looked down for the first time since she had awoken in that familiar grasp & noticed that, far below her, she could just make out a brilliant jewel, not as bright as the lights that surrounded her, but somehow more glittering!
Elothar, without waiting for her to ask ( it's like he knew what she was thinking! ), suddenly swooped toward the glittering jewel she had just taken note of. Gently swooping toward the brilliant object below, Deothora began to recognize different colors & patterns; there were noticeably blue areas, smaller green areas & even differing tans & browns. As they gracefully descended toward the glittering jewel, Deothora realized, with as light tinge of sadness, that their time together was drawing to a close. Drawing ever closer, Deothora noticed, with a new fascination, the vivid contrast that this particular jewel held, over all the others she had seen! The colors stood out in such a way that she wondered at the way the different colors stood out like different paints on an artist's pallette, yet the way they melded together brought to her mind the notion that beneath it all was a living, breathing being.
It seemed like they had been soaring for hours, even beyond the limits of Time & Space, yet when Deothora woke in her own bed the next morning, she felt rested; more than she had for quite some time! As she thought back on her flight of fancy with her favorite dragon, Deothora knew that she had found 'Heaven'; soaring through the heavens, beyond the reach of Time & Space, so to speak, she had experienced what so many of us long for, what we only dream of, what we hope for. 'Heaven', as Deothora glimpsed that night ( 'was it 'night'? ) is within; all we need to do is grab hold of our 'dragon' & soar to new heights!
Charles Haddon Shank