It doesn't really have a title yet...but enjoy!
“Mom? Can I hatch my own dragon?”
Now, in any other family, this would have been the question of a naïve 5-year-old child. In any other family, the mother would’ve just smiled at their child. But my family is slightly different than most.
My family owned a dragon farm, and the title says it all. We bred and raised dragons, slowly reintroducing them back into the world. It started with my mother, finding dragons from all over the world and bringing them into a sheltered home. From there, she got the idea of helping to raise dragon chicks.
I was born and raised around dragons. In my earliest memories, I was surrounded by dragons. Chinese dragons, Mexican dragons, serpent-dragons, plant-dragons, and maybe a few American dragons. Almost every country had their own dragon, and almost all of them didn’t know it.
My mother turned around, a serpent-dragon draped around her neck. Its snake-like head rose lazily at her and chirruped.
“Morning to you too,” I replied, tapping it on its nose. The serpent-dragon gave her another trill before placing its head back to around my mother’s neck. The only difference between it and a snake was two sets of wings and a frill that unfurled in anger by its neck. I lifted my eyes to her.
“So…can I?” I repeated. She pursed her lips, thinking. Her auburn hair was pulled tight into a bun where the serpent-dragon couldn’t (and wouldn’t, the lazy thing) reach. Storm grey eyes bored into my soft hazel ones.
“You still have school going on,” she pointed out. I rolled my eyes, not being fooled for a minute.
“Mom,” I sighed, “dragons hatch in two to three months. It’s May. School ends next month.”
“Alright, you got me. You’d have to go up to the farm and check with your dad, though,” she turned back to the stove. A small dragon that my mother loved and adored perched by it, ready to kindle a fire at a moment’s notice.
Domino was my mother’s first dragon hatched here on the farm. The poor white-and-black pygmy dragon was no bigger than Mara’s own hand. Her mother stroked his pale spines, cooing in a soft undertone for him to boil the milk on low so that it was just the right temperature for a baby dragon. Domino shifted his wings, opened his fanged jaws, and released a jet of flame into the stove top.
I sat at the counter, and instantly there was a squeal. Out of nowhere, a Chinese dragon coiled herself around my leg, music flowing from her open mouth. I smiled.
“Hey, Honey,” I whispered, stroking her head, which was four times the size of my hand. Honey hit two notes resembling a gong being hit. “Is that a new word for you?” I asked, thinking of how Chinese dragons preferred to communicate through music. Honey nodded, crawling her way into my lap.
“Well, you do have a way with young dragons, I can tell you that,” my mother commented as Honey stringed a chord of contentment into the air around us. I grinned.
“But I was the first thing Honey saw, so it doesn’t really count,” I blushed modestly.
“Still, all the same. What dragon did you want to hatch?” my mother picked up a dish and began to wash it out of habit. I thought for a bit.
I really like Chinese dragons, but they were hard to communicate with. Pygmy dragons would be hard for me to find. Serpent-dragons and Mexican dragons (basically feathery serpent-dragons) are way too aggressive. Sea dragons…well, required sea water.
“What about an American dragon?” I suggested. Despite an overwhelming pride and a fierce nature, I loved the classic four-legged, bat-winged, fire-breathing dragons the most.
But my mother frowned. “I don’t know if your father would like that.”
Sparing you the boring details of the trip to the actual farm, I’ll explain a few things. First things first, I lived down in the house with my mom (and no, my parents are no divorced, but you’ll see why they live separate) and farther past meadows and forests to other meadows and forests was the Dragon Farm. We lined our territory with ferns, which drives any dragon insane to be around it. That way, no dragon escaped before we were ready to introduce dragons back into the world. In the house where my mom and I are we house the orphan baby dragons while my dad takes care of the adult dragon, and the mother dragons take care of the chick-raising part.
Second, even though my father loves all dragons, he’s wary of the American dragon the most. Now, give me a minute and…
We reached a small house, perched in the middle of a field. All sorts of grown dragons were strewn across the clearing, and some even were trekking to the barns where they rest and eat.
“Loraine?” my father called from within the small house. “Oh, how good it is to see you both again. And how’s my lovely daughter, Mara?” I grinned and watched calmly as my father rolled into view.
Doomed to a wheelchair for the remainder of his life, my father lived with the memory of a certain blue American dragon tearing into his flesh. Ever since the day he saved the lives of my mother and the unborn me from an out-of-control dragon, my dad has been limp.
“I’m great, how are you faring with all these dragons? Is Claw still helping?” I glanced around, catching sight of my dad’s dragon, Claw. The two-legged wyvern yawned a row of sharp fangs at me, each the size of my forearm, amusement glinting in his deep blue eyes. A moss-green tail twitched.
“Of course I would, young chick,” Claw growled playfully. My dad smiled.
“Every now and then he goes and chases the lady wyverns, but he’s pretty helpful,” he laughed. My mother giggled, and I inclined my head at Claw.
“Any eggs?” I implored hopefully. A mirthful laugh rumbled like thunder in the great dragon’s chest, shaking his faded green breast-plates.
“I should hope not. Why, do you want an egg of your own, chickling?” Claw cocked his head. I nodded shyly. My father beamed.
“Brilliant! We have two Chinese dragon eggs, a rare Italian, and –”
“Dad,” I took a deep breath, “I would like an American dragon.”
He stiffened. “An….an American…”
“Yes,” I glanced anxiously at him. I couldn’t help but see his useless legs strapped to the wheelchair. My mother looked away, hoping not to get involved. My dad battled within himself, face contorting and eyes slightly bulging.
“Amer…..American….” his breath came in angry gasps. Claw stiffened his tail, instinctively raising his wings in concern.
“Yes, Dad. I want to hatch a dragon. I don’t want anything besides an American dragon.”
That night I curled on my bed. Tears streamed from my eyes, glistening in the moonlight. Honey whistled a sad tune, coiled next to my stomach. My dad had yelled at me in fury, unable to grasp the fact on how on earth I would get the desire to raise a healthy American dragon.
“Just i-imagine, Honey,” I drew a shuddering breath, trying to calm myself, “a young dragon t-that I r-raised myself. I would warm my tummy like a mother d-dragon, feed it the dragon milk solution my mom feeds to the dragons around h-here, play w-with it, raise it to be like a dragon and yet c-comfortable around humans…”
Honey was indeed listening to me talk about how I would take care of what would’ve been my dragon. Her song had faded, and her golden head was tilted forward in the way that Chinese dragons do when they think. When I stuttered to a stop, too exhausted to continue, Honey breathed a quiet song of flutes to soothe me. Soon I was fast asleep.
A great red mother dragon lovingly encircled her eggs with her tail. Then, with a quick blast of fire on her stomach so it warmed, she lay down on top of them. The night slowed her mind to a crawl, as it replayed the events of today.
The Dragon-helper’s mate and chick visited. There had been much commotion, and the chick emitted water, something that confused the mother dragon. How could water come out of her light eyes like that?
A noise rustled in the corner of the barn. It was small, so the mother dragon assumed it was a rodent or possibly a stray cat. She was just closing her eyes as a high pitch voice stumbled into her large, bat-like ears.
“Excuse me, miss!”
The mother dragon snorted sparks, and opened her eyes. What could possibly be small and speak dragon language at the same time?
“Um, I want to talk to you…down here.”
The smallest dragon she had ever seen perched on one of her paws, which dwarfed the dragon even more.
“What do you want,” she growled, not thrilled at being woken. The dragon flicked its tail.
“I…I…um, let me start like this: there is a human worthy,” there was a small gulp, “worthy of hatching an egg, particularly one from your brood would suffice.” It cowered, awaiting a punishment for something so absurd. The mother dragon merely growled thunderously, but did not wound the dragon.
“An egg from my brood? A worthy human? What is this? Some form of mockery?”
“No! No, miss. Let me explain,” the dragon chirped, placing a clawed paw on her foreleg. A flow of images and emotions seeped into the mother dragon’s mind. In that moment, the mother knew that the small dragon knew exactly what it was talking about.
“You are a smart one, aren’t you?” she murmured when the images subsided. The dragon withdrew its paw, looking embarrassed.
“So, the egg?” it inquired. The mother dragon reached with the paw that it wasn’t sitting on underneath her and presented her best egg. The small dragon looked at it in awe.
“Here, young wise dragon, this should go to the greatest cause of dragonkind,” she whispered, though her voice was still like the clap of thunder.
“Thank you, great mother,” the dragon clutched the egg tightly. “I assure you, that I will do what I can to assist her.”
“A Hatcher…” the mother dragon muttered, narrowing her eyes. “The first in history.” The small dragon nodded gravely.
“The very first.”
It turned and raced out of the barn, holding the egg. Claw stirred faintly, and thought he saw a flash of gold disappear into the trees.