...mummyMummyMUMMYMUMMY!!!" yelled the little boy as he tore along the driveway and through the back gate into the garden.
"In here, love." There was weariness in Jane Connors' voice. She was sure Davey knew instinctively when she was washing up, and he always picked that time to come looking for attention. She would often find herself looking forward to September when he would be starting school, and then find herself feeling guilty for doing so.
"Look at the state of you," she began, noticing his muddy, grass-stained clothing.
"Mummy!" he interrupted, "There's a dinosaur in the Orchard and he jumped out on us and he's eaten Eddie and..." he paused to suck in a breath and wipe sweaty hair from his forehead, "...and he caught me and he tried to eat me too, but I ran away!"
The Orchard was a small copse beside the country walk that led to the station a mile away. Jane's husband, Gareth, walked that way every day, catching the train to work, and in the lighter evenings Davey would often run down to meet him as he arrived.
"Really dear?" she asked absently. "Poor Eddie. You don't seem very upset."
"But it was a real dinosaur! It was exciting!"
Eddie was a beautiful brindled-gold Labrador that belonged to the old man in the house along the lane. The dog was his only companion, but his arthritis meant that he was no longer up to exercising him, and so he was only too pleased to send him off to play with Davey. Davey, no fool, tolerated rather than enjoyed the dog's company, but Jane was happy with the arrangement, thinking that Eddie might look after him if he got into any trouble.
"I expect Eddie's gone back to Mr Johnson's, don't you?"
"No, I told you," he whined impatiently, "the dinosaur ate him up. Come and see."
"David, I'm busy..."
"But it's true," he insisted. He looked back through the door. "What if he comes up here?"
"I'm sure he won't dear," she said, feeling sorry for him as she saw how disappointed he looked. "I know! Why don't you get out those crayons Nanny gave you and draw me a nice picture of it?"
He thought for a moment as his mother turned back to the sink, and before she could look up again, tiny feet were clattering up the stairs as he headed towards his bedroom.
Jane shook her head and smiled. They should never have let him watch "Jurassic Park".
"And take your jacket off...!"
Jane had put away the clean crockery and cutlery and boiled the kettle by the time that she heard the door slam upstairs. Davey appeared in the kitchen doorway, waving a sheet of paper and still wearing his jacket.
"Finished!" he announced.
"All right dear. You go and sit in the lounge while Mummy makes her coffee, and I'll bring you in some milk and a biscuit. You can show me your picture then." So off he went.
A minute or two later she carried the refreshments through, setting the tray down on the heavy coffee table which Davey had dragged in front of the settee. He sat grinning, with his drawing hidden behind his back. She settled beside him and went to pour her tea, but he slammed his masterpiece down impatiently and jabbed a finger at it. "There!"
Jane leant over and looked at the sheet of artists paper from the pad that Gareth had bought to encourage the artist in their son. She smiled. It looked like Davey's future would probably lie outside the field of art, but said "Very good, darling!"
The drawing was a typical product of an imaginative boy-of-four's mind: at the bottom of the page the grass was depicted by one horizontal green squiggle; at the top was a yellow sun radiating ten-or-so sunbeams, accompanied by six rounded 'M' shapes representing the birds that are compulsory in all children's drawings of "outdoors", and below these was a line of evenly spaced brown and green lollipop trees. There were two main subjects: on the left was Davey's image of himself, drawn entirely in blue, presumably as he was wearing his favourite little denim jacket. One leg was slightly longer than the other and his head was not centrally placed on his shoulders, but at least he had graduated from round-headed, round-bodied figures with sticks for arms and legs.
She reached over for her coffee. "Aren't you a good drawer then..." she said.
"Loo-ook!" he urged.
The dinosaur was not very good. At least, it did not look like a dinosaur. It was more like a man with a huge head, no neck and a thick tail, standing hunched forward. It was drawn in more detail than the rest of the picture though, with a black crayon outline filled in with a mixture of green and brown. Pictured side on, it had an impossibly gaping mouth filled with long curving red lines for teeth. Its 'arms', unlike Davey's usual pictures of his favourite dinosaur, Tyrannosaurus Rex, were thick, long and raised, each ending in four long red fingers or claws. There were goat-like horns standing out from the head, and a line of jagged spines ran down its back. Davey had not yet mastered perspective and relative sizes; the monster appeared to be over three times the size of the figure of the boy
"That's very good, Davey," Jane said. Then she pointed to a long yellow zig-zag line of crayon coming from the thing's mouth, saying "It's a dragon, isn't it? Look at all that scary fire!"
Davey sighed. "Mummy, dragons arenít real. And dinosaurs don't breathe fire. That's his voice." He drew his hands into a pose like that of the thing in his drawing. "He went 'KKHHAAAAAAHHH!!!"
"Oh, that must have been very scary." She ruffled his hair. "Why haven't you drawn Eddie? You drew a lovely picture of him last week..."
"I told you. The dinosaur ate Eddie all up, and I had to run away really fast!"
She finished her coffee and looked at her watch. "What a brave boy!" she said, standing up. "Why don't you stick the picture up on your wall? You can show it to Daddy then. He'll be home soon."
Davey stuck out his lower lip and nodded, miffed that she still didn't believe him, and stood and turned to the door. Jane gasped.
"Davey...?" What on Earth have you done to your jacket? Come here! Give it to mummy..."
He slipped the little jacket off, mumbling apologies, and handed it to his mother. She had already noticed the grass stains on the arms and shoulders, but as he turned to leave she had seen that the back had been torn ragged. Holding the garment up, she saw four long, clean slashes from neck to waist. The slashes were edged with blood.
"Davey, show me your back!" He looked near to tears, expecting a telling off, and turned around slowly. Jane sighed with relief, seeing only smears of red on an otherwise intact tee-shirt. She examined the slashes again. Their bloodied edges were matted with beautiful brindled-gold hair.
"Mummy, what if the dinosaur catches Daddy tonight...?"
Jane Connors bit her lip, stood up, and moved towards the window.
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