It seems like Charlie needs to know what happened next.

He needs to see that he didn’t kill Natalya and although she bled and hurt and cried after he did what he had to do, she was not hurt so badly she could not survive it.

So I get the rolled up blanket and the shampoo-scented hankie together and I put on some songs he likes. Obligingly, Charlie comes out. He holds the blanket.

He remembers the rest of it. He remembers the clean-up in the bathroom and Natashka’s matter-of-fact assessment of the damage and he remembers holding her as she relaxed into him and cried.

It doesn’t really do what I think it will do, but I suppose it does what he needed.

He understands that he failed in the end. He won many, many battles, but he still lost the war.

He understands this is a part of growing up. When we are young, we dream of a lot of things we don’t really have the power to do. There are many little children who would like to be policemen and they might change their minds over the years, but if they don’t then they usually can. It’s a very doable dream. There are other little children who would like to be president, and they usually can’t. There is only one president slot that doesn’t open up all that often and not everyone is smart enough or charismatic or hardworking enough or downright lucky enough to do it.

And then there are the children who would like to be dragons or cats or horses when they grow up, and that is just not even possible.

He is the little boy who wanted to grow up to be a dragon.

He wanted to keep Natashka safe. Always and forever.

He did his best at this, but in the end, he was just as a child, and he was up against professional thieves and murderers. He couldn’t do it.

And so Charlie holds his blanket and cries for a long time and he understands he has grown up now. He cannot be a dragon. He never could.