When she stretches out her scaly wings to yawn, they could cover the side of a barn. She increases, while I shrink. She is proudly crimson, a color I have always feared.
Every morning, she reaches into her spleen-pocket and places a tiny, steaming coal on my tongue. It reeks of frankincense. Then she teaches me to speak aloud. I am shy, but she is no shrinking violet. No, Ma'am.
We were not always such great friends. When we reunited, she burned me with a howling rage for epochs, until I became nearly transparent. I dreamed I had no flesh on my right wrist, only white bones, and on my left--a prosthetic metal arm with a flesh hand dangling. See, the skin has grown back now. Where the shackles had been. In order to avoid a charred odor in the kitchen, she does refer the cookie baking to me.
I ask her what she did all that time, while I was gone.
"I was the one who was being burned, before," she says. "You were the one who was not there for me, when I needed you. You are not going to be allowed to let them hurt me again. Or to be with someone who does not know you. That is how I became a dragon."
And then, suddenly, she is aloft, heading for the horizon, tugging at me strangely, like a kite on an invisible string.
What is this peculiar sensation, I wonder. A warmth. A different sort of flame. My dragon darts back to my shoulder and whispers hoarsely, "That. Is love."
Above the 61st parallel, the colors of Autumn mark our parting with the bees, and the last days of real warmth. I had begun to transl...
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