When I was a kid, I loved reading and immersing myself in the epic novels we had at home. In every single page, I could feel the bravery of the heroes, the courage of the knights, the fear of people waiting to be saved and the joy of victory. I longed to be a hero myself someday. I remember telling that to my father once, and he replied that we don’t have swords, dragons or magic in our world, so I wouldn’t be able to fight the same battles of my books. Nevertheless, if I really wanted to be a hero, there were other ways. Every day different heroes fight different kinds of modern battles, he said. I was somewhat disappointed by his answer. What kind of battle can you fight without a sword or magic? This modern world sucks.
“I think I know what your dad is talking about.” I turned toward my friend Dan, even if I knew he wouldn’t be really looking back at me. He would never look at me when he was busy doing something else, but this time his voice sounded sort of amused, and I wondered what kind of expression was on his face. With his big eyes, of a rare shade of blue, almost closed thin lips, and wavy black hair falling on his forehead, he was concentrated on his drawing.
“So, what do you mean?” I asked. I didn’t like the idea of him understanding something I couldn’t, even though, to be honest, it happened all the time.
“I mean that to me a doctor like your dad is a better hero than an idiot who can only swing a sword and kill dragons.”
“ONLY kill dragons?” I raised my voice. I must have had the dumbest face in the world, and I have no idea how, but he noticed even without looking at me.
“Yes, but close your mouth or you’ll catch flies,” he said, and this time he had something really similar to a smile on his face.
“But dragons are like THIS size and breathe fire!” I opened my arms as wide as I could.
“Still doesn’t seem very threatening to me.” Alright, now he really was smiling. “Also, if by killing a dragon you could save, let’s say two hundred villagers, that would be good. But then you wouldn’t be needed anymore. You’d be useless in other cases of emergency, like when a very bad disease spreads. However, if you were a doctor like your dad, you could heal the people hurt by the dragon until it went away on its own. Then, when the epidemic came, you would be able to save people again without killing any of that world’s creatures.” He had stopped drawing now and was looking straight at me. I really wanted to say something back, but nothing came to my mind. As always, his arguments sounded perfectly logical to me.
“I hate you when you’re smart,” I admitted. He turned his face back to his sketchbook without saying anything, and I moved closer to him and took a look at the page. I had been sure he was drawing the landscape in front of us; I thought we came to the park because he wanted to draw that. But then, on the paper, the most beautiful dragon I had ever seen had come alive. “You… ” I was speechless.
“I don’t want to think of dragons as evil creatures. In books, all they do is destroy villages, but if you think about it, people never tried to befriend them in those tales. Maybe dragons have too many ‘heroes’ to protect themselves from.”
“I don’t know, I never thought about that.”
“Well, they don’t exist anyway, so I guess you can think what you want,” he said. I needed to be reassured like that. I somehow felt guilty for wanting to kill dragons all that time. I looked again at the dragon. As if I could ever kill you, I thought.
“Annie, Dan!” screamed my twin sister, Ange, from the road next to the park entrance, stealing our attention. She rushed toward us, a very angry look on her face, the long, light brown hair waving in the air, red cheeks under the green beady eyes. She was wearing her favorite pair of jeans and a sleeveless blouse all creased from sleeping in it in the afternoon. When she was close enough to have us boys listen to her without hurting her throat she said, “How could you leave without me?! Annie, that’s horrible!”
“Shut up An, you’re the one who fell asleep on the sofa and wouldn’t wake up no matter what,” I frowned, “and don’t call me Annie, it’s a girl’s name!”
“Shutting people up is rude, Annie,” said Dan, mocking me. I said nothing, but glared at him. Now ignoring me, he told her, “I was wondering when you’d catch up with us, An.”
“So, what were you doing here without me?” asked Ange.
“Dan was drawing and I—”
“Yes, alright, I really don’t care. Today I had just the best idea and I can’t wait to tell you,” she said, interrupting me.
“What? Don’t ask then,” I muttered. Her acid attitude never failed to upset me. Ange touched her watchpad and displayed in the air, over her arm, the hologram of a logo. This attracted my attention and I crawled closer to them.
“Guys, from now on we’re gonna be a team,” said Ange. The hologram was showing a symbol, which I later recognized as three hands one on top of the others, and in the center, a heart. So girly, I thought. In the middle of the heart, in her favorite font, she had written, “3AN.”
“An, it’s really cute,” said Dan. We immediately understood that a “but” was following, and I couldn’t agree more.
“Dan’s right. Are these hands? Looks more like a diaper to me,” I said. Ange flushed bright red, and even Dan was about to laugh hearing that. “Also, the heart. Just, please, no,” I added.
“So, what do you suggest?” said Ange, displeased but also clearly embarrassed by our reaction.
“I think we could delete the hands and the heart, and try to make the text more original instead,” said Dan. He began to edit the image by touching the hologram; he deleted the hands and the heart and made the text bigger. Then he moved the letters diagonally with the three at the top, and slightly overlapped them. Finally, he manually edited the font, drawing on it with his finger, creating a completely new style. “Something is still missing, but this could be the sketch,” he said when he had finished.
“Well, I’ll probably leave the artwork to Dan from now on,” commented Ange.
“I see,” I said, “3AN. Because ‘An’ is inside our names, ‘Andrew,’ ‘Ange’ and ‘Dan,’ and there’s three of us. Not so cool but it’s easy to remember. Anyway, now that we’re a team, what do we have to do?”
“I thought of an oath we can make. Let’s promise we will always help each other, no matter what happens. This means to never give up on the others, and be together for the rest of our lives. Also, if you agree to be part of the team, it will be forever. Got it? No retirements allowed here.”
We looked into each other’s eyes. Suddenly we were all dead serious about it, at least for how serious some ten year old kids could be.
“I’m sure we’re gonna have a lot of fun!” added Ange in the end.
“I like it,” said Dan.
“I guess it’s not so bad,” I said.
We put our hands on the hologram, one on top of the others, and she whispered, “Forever!”
“Forever,” we said again together.