Girl and Dragon Count the Roses

Submitted into Contest #156 in response to: Write about two characters arguing over how a past event happened.... view prompt

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Fiction Speculative

A girl sits in a garden. A dragon sits beside her.

GIRL: What shall we do today?

DRAGON: Shall we converse?

GIRL: We are conversing and have been since we started to converse.

DRAGON: Shall we continue to converse?

GIRL: Yes, please. And we shall count the roses.

DRAGON: One two three

GIRL: Four five six

DRAGON: Seven

GIRL: Eight. Eight roses.

DRAGON: Same as yesterday.

GIRL: And the day before.

DRAGON: And the day before that. How many do you suppose there will be tomorrow?

GIRL: We shall have to wait and count them tomorrow. I think they look redder than they were yesterday.

DRAGON: They look bluer.

GIRL: Shall we settle on purple?

DRAGON: A good compromise.

GIRL: I think it is a bad compromise.

DRAGON: Why?

GIRL: I said red, you said blue. We settled on purple. A color neither of us saw.

DRAGON: Part of yours, part of mine. Both together. Would you rather we battle? One wins and the other loses?

GIRL: Purple is neither red nor blue. We have both already lost.

DRAGON: Right now we are equally satisfied and dissatisfied. You propose one be happy at the expense of the other.

GIRL: I don’t wish you to be unhappy. I will say blue if it will make you happy.

DRAGON: You don’t see blue. You would just be saying you see blue so I will be happy but I will not be happy because in your head you will still think red and what you think in your mind counts.

GIRL: But you were satisfied to say purple and neither saw purple.

DRAGON: Shall we converse now?

GIRL: We are conversing.

DRAGON: We are arguing.

GIRL: I thought we were discussing.

DRAGON: Shall we discuss the weather? It is pleasant.

GIRL: You should phrase it as “I think it is pleasant.” When you say “it is pleasant” you make it sound like fact but it is, in fact, opinion. Perhaps I do not hold the opinion that the weather is pleasant.

DRAGON: So you do not think it is pleasant?

GIRL: I do. I am not challenging the opinion but challenging that it is an opinion.

DRAGON: Why do you argue with me always?

GIRL: I do not argue with you always.

DRAGON: You are arguing with me right now.

GIRL: Alright, I am arguing with you right now. You are correct.

DRAGON: By conceding, you are no longer arguing with me.

GIRL: But because you changed your mind and said I was no longer arguing with you after I said I was arguing with you means that I am now arguing with you again.

DRAGON: Let us invent something.

GIRL: What shall we invent?

DRAGON: We should begin by inventing the concept of inventions.

GIRL: Is that really necessary?

DRAGON: Nothing exists until we create it.

GIRL: Nothing?

DRAGON: Nothing. We invented the flowers, the pleasant weather.

GIRL: How did we invent them before the concept of inventions?

DRAGON: We already invented the concept of inventions. We must have in order to have invented the flowers and the pleasant weather. We just forgot.

GIRL: Who invented us?

DRAGON: One of us must have invented the other.

GIRL: Which one?

DRAGON: I invented you.

GIRL: I invented you.

DRAGON: Do you have any evidence of that?

GIRL: Do you have any evidence to the contrary?

DRAGON: I can invent some.

GIRL: That’s cheating. You can’t invent information after the investigation has already begun.

DRAGON: Why not? We haven’t invented the rules yet.

GIRL: Alright. Let us invent the rules now. The first rule is we must both agree on a rule before it becomes a law.

DRAGON: No. I don’t want that.

GIRL: Too bad. I want it.

DRAGON: But you said we both had to agree.

GIRL: But you said you didn’t agree to the rule which means I could invent the rule without your approval of the rule. It is now a law.

DRAGON: You must have invented me because I would never invent such a thing as you. 

GIRL: You’re finicky.

DRAGON: You’re persnickety.

GIRL: I hate you.

DRAGON: I hope you die.

GIRL: If I die, then you’ll be all alone.

DRAGON: I’ll invent another companion.

GIRL: What if you can’t? What if every time you think you invent something and it appears, it is actually because I invented it and let you think you invented it, or what if your thoughts are my own invention, or what if you don’t really exist outside of my mind and if my mind ceases then so would you cease?

DRAGON: What if that is true but in reverse?

GIRL: …

DRAGON: …

GIRL: I don’t hate you.

DRAGON: I don’t hope you die.

GIRL: Friends?

DRAGON: Friends.

GIRL: I think it is pleasant today.

DRAGON: I agree.

GIRL: And I think the flowers do look purpler today.

DRAGON: I agree.

GIRL: I’m glad I invented you.

DRAGON: I am glad I invented you.

GIRL: Shall we count the roses?

DRAGON: One two three

GIRL: Four five six

DRAGON: Seven

GIRL: Seven. Seven roses. 

DRAGON: Same as yesterday.

GIRL: No.

DRAGON: No?

GIRL: No. Not the same.

DRAGON: Not the same? That’s impossible. It has always been the same.

GIRL: No.

DRAGON: That is impossible.

GIRL: But it must be possible because it is not the same. We counted seven roses, but before we counted eight. Eight roses.

DRAGON: No. You must be mistaken.

GIRL: I remember eight.

DRAGON: You remember wrong. There have always been seven roses.

GIRL: Do you remember seven or are you saying seven because we counted seven now?

DRAGON: I remember seven.

GIRL: Really?

DRAGON: No. But I don’t remember eight.

GIRL: But you don’t not remember eight.

DRAGON: I don’t not remember seven.

GIRL: Let us count again.

DRAGON: One two

GIRL: Three four

DRAGON: Five Six

GIRL: Six. There, see? Six roses.

DRAGON: Same as always.

GIRL: It was just seven.

DRAGON: There are six roses.

GIRL: But there were seven roses.

DRAGON: I don’t remember seven.

GIRL: Shall we count the roses again?

DRAGON: To pass the time.

GIRL: No, we shall not count them to pass the time. We shall count them so you see it is not impossible that they change. Because they are changing.

DRAGON: They can’t change. That’s impossible.

GIRL: It is possible because impossible means that it can’t happen but it is happening therefore it is possible.

DRAGON: I see six roses.

GIRL: Six.

DRAGON: Six.

GIRL: You acknowledge there are six roses?

DRAGON: Six.

GIRL: Let us count the roses.

DRAGON: Yes, let’s.

GIRL: One

DRAGON: Two

GIRL: Three

DRAGON: Four

GIRL: Five. Five roses. Only five.

DRAGON: Five roses.

GIRL: And?

DRAGON: And?

GIRL: How many were counted last time?

DRAGON: Same as always.

GIRL: No! How many last time?

DRAGON: Five.

GIRL: No! There were not five. There were six!

DRAGON: Six?

GIRL: Yes!

DRAGON: I don’t remember six.

GIRL: Even if you don’t remember six, there were six.

DRAGON: If I don’t remember but you say you remember, what makes your remembering more valid than my not remembering?

GIRL: I know because I am in my mind and in my mind I remember.

DRAGON: And I am in my mind and in my mind I don’t remember.

GIRL: Even if you don’t believe that there are fewer roses than before, pretend for a moment that you believe it to be true.

DRAGON: But I don’t believe it because it is impossible.

GIRL: That is why I told you to pretend. You don’t have to believe something to pretend. In fact, to pretend, it is a prerequisite that you don’t believe because if you believed then you wouldn’t be pretending. You would be believing.

DRAGON: It’s impossible.

GIRL: Pretending it is possible, what would it mean that there are roses disappearing?

DRAGON: The roses were invented by us and they came into being but we can’t un-invent things. They can’t just disappear into nothing.

GIRL: You said you wished I would die.

DRAGON: But dying is different than disappearing into nothing. If you died, your body would be on the ground next to me as you broke apart into small pieces, but you would not disappear. Once invented, things cannot be un-invented.

GIRL: The roses are disappearing.

DRAGON: If I were to concede that there are fewer roses from when we counted this time and the time we counted before this time, then I would say the only possible explanation (because the roses disappearing is the impossible explanation) is that the roses are dying. So there are five roses and however many dead roses to complete the number of total roses you claim there were.

GIRL: But there are no dead roses.

DRAGON: Then there are only five roses. And there have only ever been five roses. Same as before.

GIRL: The roses are being un-invented.

DRAGON: They can’t be.

GIRL: Why? Couldn’t we invent the concept of un-invention?

DRAGON: We should never do that.

GIRL: Why?

DRAGON: Because then we could be un-invented.

GIRL: We’ve already been speaking of un-invention while conversing just now. Which means it exists. We’ve invented it.

DRAGON: Then it exists.

GIRL: You said you wished I would die.

DRAGON: You said you hated me.

GIRL: …

DRAGON: …

GIRL: What?

DRAGON: What?

GIRL: Nothing.

DRAGON: The weather is not so pleasant now.

GIRL: You think the weather is not so pleasant now.

DRAGON: Yes. I think.

GIRL: I also think the weather is not so pleasant now.

DRAGON: Chilly.

GIRL: Cloudy.

DRAGON: Drizzling.

GIRL: Not pleasant.

DRAGON: Un-pleasant.

GIRL: Un-

DRAGON: Not.

GIRL: Not. Not pleasant.

DRAGON: …

GIRL: …

DRAGON: Shall we count the roses?

GIRL: No.

DRAGON: No need. There are-

GIRL: The same as yesterday.

DRAGON: And the day before. 

GIRL: And the day before that.

DRAGON: Same.

GIRL: As before.

GIRL: …

DRAGON: …

GIRL: Wait!

DRAGON: What?

GIRL: They are not un-

DRAGON: Not.

GIRL: They are not not-invented. But we needn’t fear un-invention.

DRAGON: I’m afraid I don’t follow.

GIRL: We are supposing the missing flowers were un-invented because they disappeared into nothing, correct?

DRAGON: Correct.

GIRL: But they did not disappear into nothing.

DRAGON: But nothing is left of them after having disappeared.

GIRL: You are wrong.

DRAGON: You are wrong.

GIRL: If nothing was left of them, then we would not have noticed they were gone.

DRAGON: I did not notice.

GIRL: Because your mind was closed to the possibility that they could be gone-

DRAGON: Because it was impossible before the invention of un-invention.

GIRL: -so you instead chose to believe that they were never there in the first place. But I noticed they were gone. I retain a memory of them having existed and a memory is not nothing. They did not disappear into nothing- they merely disappeared, and merely disappearing is a less frightening concept than being truly un-invented.

DRAGON: Merely disappearing is no worse than dying like I wished on you because even if you are dead, you are not un-invented. I would still remember you.

GIRL: The flowers have not been un-invented. So too are we safe from un-invention.

DRAGON: The weather is pleasant today.

GIRL: I think the weather is pleasant today.

DRAGON: Sunny.

GIRL: Warm.

DRAGON: Breezy.

GIRL: Shall we count the roses?

DRAGON: We need not count them. We have the memory of them. Five flowers.

GIRL: Eight. 

DRAGON: I remember five.

GIRL: I remember eight.

DRAGON: I remember five.

GIRL: It doesn’t matter.

DRAGON: It does.

GIRL: You think it does. I think it does not.

DRAGON: May I explain?

GIRL: You can’t invent facts to support your opinion. 

DRAGON: May I invent opinions to support my opinion?

GIRL: You may.

DRAGON: I think it matters because if you say that the memories are evidence that the supposed missing roses were not un-invented, then the fact, ehm, the opinion, that I remember five roses and you remember eight means the memories are not concrete. And if they are not concrete then they are not the same as the roses. The memories of the roses and the roses are separate things.

GIRL: But I remember all eight roses, so they may have been un-invented for you, but not so for me.

DRAGON: The law says that we must both agree on rules and un-invention was made a law, so it exists equally for both of us.

GIRL: I thought we did not agree on that rule.

DRAGON: I did in my head and that counts.

GIRL: But I remember all eight.

DRAGON: There may have been more roses invented than eight.

GIRL: I don’t remember them.

DRAGON: I don’t remember the eight. 

GIRL: I am afraid.

DRAGON: I am as well.

GIRL: WAIT! The flowers disappeared into nothing before we unintentionally invented un-invention.

DRAGON: But when we were talking about inventing the concept of invention, did you think about un-invention in your head, even a little bit?

GIRL: Yes.

DRAGON: That counts. Thoughts invent as well as words do. 

GIRL: …

DRAGON: I do not want to count the roses anymore.

GIRL: I do not want to count the memory of the roses anymore.

DRAGON: The weather is… an opinion.

GIRL: The weather is a fact. I think the weather is an opinion.

DRAGON: …

GIRL: Can we un-invent un-invention?

DRAGON: We would need un-invention to un-invent it.

GIRL: So there would still be un-invention.

DRAGON: Not the same un-invention, but a new un-invention. Perhaps stronger than the first.

GIRL: Could we invent un-un-invention?

DRAGON: No.

GIRL: Why not?

DRAGON: Because that would be the same as invention and that would be redundant.

GIRL: You’re redundant.

DRAGON: You’re a dunce.

GIRL: Fool.

DRAGON: Clown.

GIRL: Wait!

DRAGON: Dullard. Sloth.

GIRL: Wait!

DRAGON: Slug.

GIRL: Who is un-inventing?

DRAGON: What?

GIRL: We invented. We invented the roses and the weather I think is pleasant.

DRAGON: I invented you.

GIRL: I invented you.

DRAGON: Well, now you are un-inventing.

GIRL: I am not.

DRAGON: Well, you must be.

GIRL: Why?

DRAGON: Because I am not.

GIRL: But I know that I am not so you must be.

DRAGON: Well, I know that I am not so you must be.

GIRL: But I am not.

DRAGON: Well, I am not.

GIRL: But I know that I am not and I do not know that you are not, so therefore you must be.

DRAGON: It is the same but in reverse for me.

GIRL: I don’t see how that is possible.

DRAGON: Why?

GIRL: Because I know that I am not.

DRAGON: …

 GIRL: …

DRAGON: …

GIRL: I hate you.

DRAGON: I hope you die.

GIRL: …

DRAGON: …

GIRL: We must come to a truce.

DRAGON: Lay down our arms.

GIRL: We must both agree to refrain from using our own powers of un-invention on each other.

DRAGON: A détente.

GIRL: Shall we agree?

DRAGON: I agree that we shall agree.

GIRL: I agree with that.

DRAGON: Pleasant weather.

GIRL: I think so.

DRAGON: Shall we count the roses to pass the time amicably?

GIRL: That sounds like an agreeable plan.

DRAGON: One

GIRL: Two

DRAGON: Three

GIRL: Four

DRAGON: Four

GIRL: Four

DRAGON: Not the same as last time.

GIRL: You un-invented it!

DRAGON: I did not! You un-invented it!

GIRL: I did not!

DRAGON: You must have!

GIRL: Why?

DRAGON: Because I did not!

GIRL: You used your power of un-invention. I ought to un-invent you.

DRAGON: I ought to un-invent you!

GIRL: Wait! You did-

DRAGON: I did not!

GIRL: Wait. The un-inventor, whomever that may be-

DRAGON: You.

GIRL: -un-invented a rose. Our agreement was that we would refrain from un-inventing each other. We did not extend that same protection to the roses.

DRAGON: I propose that henceforth we ban the un-invention of all things.

GIRL: I agree. 

DRAGON: No more un-invention from you?

GIRL: And the reverse?

DRAGON: Agreed.

GIRL: Agreed.

DRAGON: Shall we count the roses?

GIRL: It is crucial to do so.

DRAGON: One

GIRL: Two 

DRAGON: Three

GIRL: You un-invented!

DRAGON: You un-invented!

GIRL: How can I trust that you will not un-invent me when you are un-inventing the roses despite our ban on un-invention?

DRAGON: That but the reverse!

GIRL: I should un-invent you or you will un-invent me!

DRAGON: That but the reverse!

GIRL: The threat of you uninventing me is great, but the reverse is true for you.

DRAGON: Yes.

GIRL: So the threat is equal for both.

DRAGON: Yes.

GIRL: So we could battle and one would be happy and the other would be unhappy.

DRAGON: Not unhappy. Un-invented.

GIRL: Yes. Or we could compromise and both be equally happy and unhappy.

DRAGON: Yes.

GIRL: A compromise.

DRAGON: Yes.

GIRL: A good compromise.

DRAGON: Yes.

GIRL: We should forgive the previous trespasses and start again. A fresh truce.

DRAGON: Made stronger after the failure of the first.

GIRL: Because we bore witness to the consequences of its collapse.

DRAGON: Very well. I forgive you.

GIRL: And I you.

DRAGON: No more un-inventing.

GIRL: From either party.

DRAGON: Shall we count the roses?

GIRL: Let’s.

DRAGON: One

GIRL: Two

DRAGON: You lied!

GIRL: You lied!

DRAGON: You un-invented!

GIRL: No, you!

DRAGON: Shall we count the roses?

GIRL: We shall count the roses!

DRAGON: One

GIRL: Not the same as before!

DRAGON: Not the same! The un-same!

GIRL: Shall we count the roses?

DRAGON: We must!

GIRL: One

DRAGON: One

GIRL: Only one!

DRAGON: Not the same!

GIRL: Shall we count the roses?

DRAGON: Count them! Count them!

GIRL: Zero. Zero roses.

DRAGON: No roses! Not-roses!

GIRL: Un-roses!

DRAGON: …

GIRL: …

DRAGON: …

GIRL: …

DRAGON/GIRL: I UN-INVENT YOU!

Both disappear into nothing.

July 27, 2022 16:43

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1 comment

L. E. Scott
10:51 Aug 12, 2022

I loved this story, the banter, the concept. In some ways it reminded me of "the little prince"

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