When and Where They Live and Breathe

Vivian McInerny
8 min readJul 22, 2022

The dragon sighting was a sign of what was to come

Robert Lukeman on Unsplash

I’ve been dying to tell someone, literally dying. It is one of the previously unknown and sadly common consequences of any real-world encounter with a dragon. But I wouldn’t trade one mystical moment of it for all the world or, more accurately, for all the worlds.

But let me begin at the beginning.

It was a Wednesday. I needed caffeine to get through my mid-morning-mid-week slump so headed to the crib. That’s what all the creatives at the agency called the break room because, you know, we’re creative.

The agency office was the kind of chic open loft I imagined I’d live in when I first thought of moving to New York. Turned out the entry-level salary, even at a top agency, barely covered the rent for a dingy studio apartment in a not cute part of Brooklyn. I survived, like most newbies, on the free snacks and endless coffee in the crib.

“Hey Sasha,” I said. My only friend at the agency sat in a swinging chair that hung from the ceiling, scrolling through her phone. “You still working on that deodorant account?”

“Room freshener,” Sasha said, not looking up from her screen. “Yeah, it stinks.”

“Ha,” I pushed the double shot espresso button. The machine hissed and huffed.

Sasha’s clients were dull but at least her director let her do stuff. Sasha assisted on photo shoots, sat in on pitches, and contributed to post-op critiques. My team was perpetually frazzled but refused to delegate. During my first few weeks at the agency, I regularly asked if there was anything I could do. She always said she’d let me know. Eventually, I stopped asking.

But my boss was working from home that Wednesday, her kid was sick, so I had even less than nothing to do.

“Hashtag HudsonValleyDragon is trending,” said Sasha sounding only mildly interested. “Two kids claim they saw a dragon near the river.”

“Silly kids,” I said sipping my coffee. “Don’t they know a lost Loch Ness monster when they see one?”

I took a seat on one of the chartreuse sofas. Sasha gently swayed in her chair.

Vivian McInerny

Career journalist, essayist, fiction writer, and life-long spirit-quester.