My first pet

I got my first pet when I was seven. Or, rather, he got me. It was summer and school was out. I’m sure I was driving my mother batty because she sent me outside to play until dinner.

I remember it was hot and thinking about how it was the perfect kind of day to go down to the creek. I wasn’t supposed to swim in the creek, Mom said it was dangerous. I think that’s what made it fun.

I don’t know what kind of childhood you had, but for me, the only way to swim in the creek was to skinny dip. Mom would know what I had been up to if I came back in with wet clothes.

I stripped and made a running start for my classic cannonball.

As I pushed off the bottom of the creekbed, I felt something smooth give way beneath my feet. I surfaced and dove back under. It took a minute, and I was worried I might run out of air, but I found what I kicked open. I carried it up to the muddy bank.

In the bright light there was no mistaking what I’d found. It was an egg, a little bigger than a regulation football.

I ran my fingers over the surface gently. I hadn’t broken all the way through, but whatever was inside was now awake and ready to come out.

I think I must have thought it was a dinosaur egg, but the creature that broke free after it’s great struggle was no ancient lizard.

It was a dragon.

Green scales and a toothy grin of hooked fangs looked up at me. He opened his eyes and gazed up at me, and a name popped into my head.

Percival, like the knight.

As I whispered the name, he squeezed his eyes shut in silent understanding and pushed his head against my knee.

“Are you hungry?” I asked. He bashed against me again, and I scrambled to my feet and tugged on my pants. I reached into the front pocket and pulled out the sandwich my mom made me for lunch.

I took one half for myself and tossed the other to my new baby dragon. Percival snatched it out of the air and swallowed it in one bite.

On my walk home, I tried to rehearse what I would say to my mother. “You said I could have a pet, well, I got one! Mom, meet Percival!”

I was sure my confidence would sway her, but when I came up the walk, she just said. “No.”

“But, Mom, you said I could have a pet.”

“I meant a dog, not a baby dragon.” She turned to go back into the house. “Put him back where you found him and wash up for dinner.”

I walked Percival back down to the creek, but he wouldn’t stay. He followed me back to the house. When my dad came home, he asked why there was a dragon in the yard, and my mom shot me a death glare.

“He’s my new pet!” I piped up with no concern for my own safety.

“Ah, well, as long as he stays in the yard, I suppose,” my father said.

It wasn’t long before autumn came and with it the first cold snap.

“Robin, go and get Percival and bring him inside tonight,” my mom said as I was doing my homework. “It’s too cold out there tonight.”

“Can he sleep in my bed?”

“Sure,” she said as she left the room.

Percival lived with us until I moved away. Something about my leaving triggered the wildness in him. I never saw him again, but I make a point of leaving half a sandwich by the creek bed whenever I visit my mom and dad.

The Princess and the Dragon

The princess watched helplessly as the white knight approached the fire-breathing dragon. The knight was fearless and brave as he hefted his lance and drew his sword. Amabeth didn’t like it.

She knew he would get hurt, but, from high up in her tower, there was nothing she could do to stop it. All she could do was watch from the slit of a window as the battle raged on below.

The dragon reared back and blew a billow of flame. The knight dove behind a rock to safety.

The dragon snarled and bared its terrifying teeth, and the knight leapt forth and dove his lance into the soft underbelly of the dragon. It howled and lurched forward, the lance stuck fast in its flesh.

Another plume of fire gushed from the dragon’s mouth and again the knight dove behind the rock. The dragon snarled and broke the end of the lance off with its mighty front leg.

But, to do this, it had to rear up again, and the clever knight rushed forward and plunged his sword into the fearsome beast. It howled and staggered back.

The knight, seeing his opening, surged forward and stabbed his sword into the soft underbelly again and again until the dragon finally fell backwards, dead.

The knight, triumphant bent and took a knife from his belt and sawed off one of the dragon’s horns. When his work was done, he removed his helmet and raised the bloody horn high above his head.

“Princess,” he called in his deep baritone. “I have slain the dragon. Fear not, I am on my way to you now.”

Amabeth moved from the window. His features were striking and his face handsome. And, from the moment she saw his face, she knew. He was her destiny.

He was the man who would change everything for her. He was now her very reason for being at this moment. She knew where her life would take her from now on.

He was the first man she would ever kill.

While she waited for the knight to climb the stairs to the highest room in the tallest tower, she changed into her best dress and fixed her face. When the knight burst through the door, at last, he crossed the room in three short strides to her, his arms open wide.

Amabeth smiled coyly and cocked her head to the side, pushing her bosom forward. The knight face split with a lecherous smile and took her in his arms.

“Princess, I have saved you,” he said. “I demand a token of your affection.”

“Then hold me tight,” she whispered.

He did and she filched the knife from his belt and plunged it into his back, finding the chink in his armour. She withdrew it and plunged it in again, finding another chink.

The knight crumpled and fell from her arms to the floor.

“You slew my dragon,” the princess spat. “My parents abandoned me to this castle for not being born a man. They left me in exile to die. If it hadn’t been for my dragon, I would be dead.”

The knight tried to speak, but instead only gurgled and blew little bloody spit bubbles. His eyes glazed over and Amabeth continued.

“When I reached my third day in this castle the dragon came, and I admit, at first I was afraid, but when I saw that the dragon brought with him food and water for me, I knew he was my saviour.

“My dragon was my only companion in this hellscape; my only constant. And, now you’ve killed him. I swear on his memory that I will slay every knight whoever harms a dragon in anything other than true self-defence.

“Dragons are not the enemy, man is.”

Amabeth looked down at the lifeless body of the knight with nothing but contempt. He and his ilk would pay for what they did to her dragon.