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."
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