"Aw come on, don't look at me like that..." Dammit. Those enormous eyes were staring at me like I'd just ordered its execution. How could I just leave t there? I had no idea how to explain this to my wife. In my days of adventuring and travel, I'd brought home all kinds of strange things. It was my job, after all; people paid good gold for retrieving artifacts or rare ingredients, heirlooms, whatever they needed. I was their man. Enchanted swords, disembodied eyes that still blinked, satyr hair, even a haunted mirror had all come home with me at some point. My dear Evelina had made peace with it long ago, provided I got rid of my findings in a reasonable amount of time. But the dog-sized baby dragon currently trying to follow me home? I may have finally pushed my luck too far. It made a little warbly noise in its throat, almost like a muted cry. It peered up at me, seemingly seeing right into my soul with its massive green eyes. Its white body shimmered in the light, scattering beams of sun into the mouth of the cave I'd found it in. As far as I could tell, it had been abandoned. Remnants of two other shells, long dried out and disintegrating into the sandy floor, indicated its red and yellow siblings had hatched long ago. The white shell, however, had been still damp from its occupant. The poor thing was mewling pathetically, probably from loneliness, when I found it. Dragons were social creatures, after all. Oh, hell. I let out a long sigh. How could I leave it here, knowing its parents weren't coming back for it? I looked at it. It looked at me. I tried to shut out my traitorous compassion and be logical. It purred and gently pawed at my leg. I lost the battle. "Alright, fine," I growled, not truly angry at it but frustrated by my weakness. The little dragon gave a happy chirp and fluttered its winglets excitedly. A little puff of smoke shot out of its nose. I shouldered my bag and set off down the road. The dragon puttered ain't beside me, green eyes practically glowing with happiness. Tiny claws made a small clattering noise on the uneven cobblestones of the road. I reached down and stroked its wings, eliciting a delighted purr. Maybe Evelina would be swayed by this thing's cuteness. I hoped. Otherwise, I wouldn't be sleeping on the couch, I'd be single.
“How did you get that scar?” a curious child asks. She is referring to the “V” shaped scar on the right side of my stomach, just above my hips. While others have commented that the scar is “weird”, I have never found shame in it. “Are you talking about this one?” I ask, just to be sure. She nods. I'm at the pool with kids i'm babysitting, and in my bathing suit, revealing my stomach and scar. The child's question is one that I have been asked my whole life. “I had surgery,” I say. “Because I was born early.” I think about all the babies who are born early, all the anxious parents who spend sleepless months in a hospital, and the hundreds of doctors and nurses who spend countless hours working to ensure that the premature babies continue to breathe. My twin and I were one of those babies. We were born at 24 weeks. When you are just 24 weeks pregnant, your baby is about the size of an ear of corn. Doctors gave her the news that no parent would ever want to hear; “Your twins have only about a 10% chance of survival, and if they do survive, a plethora of severe health problems are likely”. My twin, Kara and I came into this world 4 months early on September 14,1998. Kara weighing 1.06lbs and Me weighing 1.04lbs. Each baby could fit in the palm of their dads hand. Their parents were only allowed to put their fingers into the incubator box to touch Kaylee and Kara. At one point i dropped down to 12oz, the weight of a can of soda. Within two days, sadly and heartbreakingly, the doctors informed my parents that Kara had level four brain bleed leaving her with almost no brain activity. Kara died and my family we able to hold her, love her and say their final goodbyes. Then she became my Guardian Angel. I gave my parents plenty of scares when I would often stop breathing, making my skin turn purplish as well as my heart rate would drop. The sound of alarms going off sent fear through my parents.Several days after my sister passed away, my parents got an early morning phone call and another big scare… Kaylee had ruptured her bowel and needed emergency surgery. The surgeon informed them that I had a 5% chance of making it and that they should prepare for the worst. Family and friends had said their final goodbyes before I went in for surgery and everyone thought that was it, I wasn't going to make it. The doctors also informed my family that if I were to make it, I would be unresponsive, in a wheelchair and have allot of problems my whole life. But, as I always did, I fought through it and survived with no complications . 100 days later, on Christmas Eve, I got released to go home after I had beat insurmountable odds. I do not remember my months in the hospital. I do not remember all the needle pricks that gave me permanent scars along my wrists, ankles, and stomach. I was a baby. Still, today I am grateful for my scars. I am so grateful that I am alive and forever grateful to all of the nurses and doctors who saved my life. My dad has always told everyone “Kaylee is a promise to our friends and family that life does go on…She is our miracle” Being a micro preemie I do still have complications because of the surgeries. I still have scars from the surgeries and IV lines. Being a preemie is the best thing that God could have given me. It gives me a spirit to fight and never stop. It gives me compassion for those going through painful situations. It gives me passion for babies that never get to see the light of day.I want to be a occupational therapist for little kids and babies or a NICU nurse. I know that I can give hope to families of premature babies with my story and working to make miracles happen for them as well. Occupational and physical therapy made me into who i am today. Physical therapy was tough for me but it helped me drastically. If it wasn't for therapy i would be in a wheelchair and unresponsive. I am thankful my parents put me through therapy.