I used to think I would die. Today I am not so sure. It has been a thousand years and not a scale has fallen from my skin. My eyes are sharp enough to spot my prey amd read in the dark. My breath still turns them to ashes and lights the cinders of my hearth. Imagine me with glasses and an oxygen tank! In the dark I ponder, wrapped around my treasures.
Yet why am I so tired? This pitchfork in my breast is a mere flesh wound. The villagers certainly hate me.
In the still of this summer night, as the crickets chirp somewhere outside my lair, my distant thoughts come flooding in. What is the good of living forever if nothing else lives with me? In my youth I destroyed now I guard. Many men have sought my treasures but only one-a child-I deemed worthy of knowledge.
I try to stir as you arrive. You rush to me and throw your cloak on me as if it could help. You deserve to know so I will tell you one last story.
I tried to sleep that freezing night deep within the forest. Though a fire warmed my blood, my screaming existentialism gave me shivers.
That was one night of many when the men attacked. A mercy, for they saved me from my thoughts. Men never returned to their homes unless I was bored or intrigued. Once I allowed a very old man with a cane to run his fingers over my muzzle. He exclaimed, “Now I can die in piece, having seen for the very first time, the beginning of all knowledge!”
I burnt him to a crisp. I was a horrible dragon in those days. He tasted delicious.
Eventuallly I wanted to share my treasures. I flew over villages and cities and dropped books from my talons. Most of them hit people on the head and fell through rooftops.
As my memories fade, I cannot remember which came first. Angry villagers with pitchforks or ruthless me with fire. The memory is lost to history or else written in a book I have never read. Highly unlikely.
I begin to cough. Fire, fire, fire. But you are not afraid. You simply lean against my scales and breath in and out. Then you walk to a pile of books at least six feet tall. You pull out the one at eye length. You keep me warm like gloves as you read aloud my favorite passage.
Surely I am not dying. But then I see you, three years old. Crawling into my cave as the snow fell. You cried for your mother. That was the first time I felt alone. For it was I who had killed her.
She tasted like burnt books. I realized her story would never be told. I began to cry. Neither would mine. But you, little one, your story had just begun. It is still barely beginning.
I sheltered you. Taught you to read and mostly to write. I gasp for my last few breaths.
Surely I am not dying. For what would become of my books? You cradle my head in your lap as your salty tears drip drip. “You taught me all that I know. So I will shout from the rooftops until my throat too is full of fire.
I close my eyes. Sleepy.
“Perhaps you will open a library.”
I will never finish reading every book in the world…because as long as children exist, there will be books. And as long as books exist, there will be dragons to guard them both.
About the author
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Original narrative & well developed characters
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions