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The baby dragon perched on the rim of his nest, green skin blending to gray where it touched the jumbled stones. His mother, the most beautiful and deadly of dragons, crouched behind him. Her long neck reached out. She nodded toward the precipice.
Her voice in his head lacked the humor he'd come to expect when she spoke of his leaving. He squinted against the light reflecting off her gold scales and tried to decipher her expression.
Joke? he asked hopefully.
Her tawny eyes grew red with irritation.
Fleecy clouds drifted between him and the jagged rocks below. He dug his claws deeper into the stones around his nest.
A rush of air and-smack-his mother's tail swept him off the ledge. He flailed his legs, desperate for something solid to cling to.
The command reached him the instant before his reflexive belch. He clamped his lips to contain the explosion of buoyant gas.
The approval in his mother's thoughts calmed his panic. Extending his wings, he felt the air buffet them. He pushed down and shot upward. The stroke lifted him high above the deadly rocks. His wings were the key, he realized, heart soaring. Tilt them to turn. Fold them to fall. Extend them to rise again.
Good. The voice in his head grew fainter as he rose. Fly well. She launched herself from the nest and vanished into the mountain mists.
He paid no attention. Flight was a wonderful game. He banked and dove, playing with the air currents. When his wings grew tired, he dropped back into the nest. When rested, he took to the air again. Hepracticed his new skill for days, ranging farther and farther, but always returning home.
Days passed. He finished the carcasses his mother had left him and grew hungry. He circled the nest, searching the sky for a glimpse of her. He wasn't worried, not really. His mother had disappeared before, once for more than seven sunsets, and had always come back with something tasty dangling between her claws.
The sun set and rose and set again. She didn't come.
His loneliness grew with his hunger. He wanted food, but he wanted his mother more. He sat on the edge of his nest and trumpeted the distress signal she'd taught him.
She still didn't come.
When his hunger grew unbearable, he abandoned the rocky heights. His mother hunted the woodlands below, maybe she waited for him there. With a single farewell look, he launched from his nest and started the long, circling descent.
He swept over a pasture full of grazing sheep. They panicked, and three stampeded over the edge of a cliff.
Copyright © 2005 Carrie S. Masek & William B. Masek
Posted January 10, 2010
No text was provided for this review.