“If you could be a mythological creature, what would you be?” Lisa asked Desmond. They looked at him, expectant. It was a game they played often, Lisa, Desmond, Cora and Jackson.
“A dragon,” replied Desmond, “I’d be a dragon.”
“You don’t act like a dragon,” said Cora, “I think you’d be a Centaur.”
Desmond shrugged; the recess bell rang. They gathered their things and went to class.
High school, college, work. Life flew by in a daze of ever mutating variables; Lisa, Desmond, Cora and Jackson the only constants.
“I knew you were a Centaur,” Cora whispered as Desmond pulled her out of the wrecked car.
Desmond should know what to do. He was the first responder, he had trained for this, but realizing this was Jackson’s car, with Cora and Lisa inside too, he doubted. This accident was different, the stakes higher than ever. Mistakes would cost Desmond, but his mind was addled, stymied by the fear of losing the people he loved most.
Cora’s words brought back a thousand school days, a thousand games, a thousand conversations. He had never understood what Cora had meant that day. A dragon would pull the shattered roof apart, and his friends would be free. What is being a centaur?
“You know what to do,” Cora squeezed his hand, “centaurs are brains and brawn. You know what to do.”
He looked into her eyes. She smiled. That faint smile brought back the years of training and experience. The knowledge flowed through him, like light floods an empty room and fills it.
Lisa, Desmond, Cora and Jackson; constant still.