Apple Dragon

By Gabriel Ertsgaard

“How about a snack now?” My toddler nephews abandon their plastic shovels on the back patio next to a five-inch mound of flower bed dirt. I help my sister-in-law strip them out of puffy seafoam jackets, blue Paw Patrol galoshes, and the stocking caps they didn’t want to wear. It’s still too cold to go bare-headed on this faux spring day, a brief reprieve before napping winter reasserts itself.

The normalcy feels strange. My nephews don’t understand that they missed starting preschool, nor find it odd to don face masks while choosing a Christmas tree. Valentines for classmates must wait until next year. The twins’ entire world is this home, their backyard swing set, visits to grandparents (our COVID bubble), and petitions for stories about faraway, magical realms.

three apple slices

young boy’s dragon hoard

eats one, guards two


Gabriel Ertsgaard (he/him) is the interviews editor for Peace Chronicle and copy editor for the literary journal Drifting Sands. A former English lecturer, he earned his Doctor of Letters from Drew University with a dissertation on environmental themes in a medieval legend. His criticism, poetry, and fairy tales have appeared in various print and digital publications.