The forest in my town has always been my favorite place to visit. It beats staying inside my bedroom and it’s a far better place to dream. My daily routine would consist of waking up, eating, showering, and riding my bike to start my adventure. And that is exactly what I’m doing today.

I pull my brown hair tightly through my peach-colored hair tie and test the bounce of my fresh pigtails as I shake my head side to side. Feeling satisfied with the results, I hop down from my step stool and place the stool between the sink and the bathroom cabinet. I’m pretty short for a seven-year-old so I tend to have trouble seeing myself in the mirror since it’s so high. I skip to my bedroom and grab my favorite green backpack. I take one look outside my bedroom window and see the world is covered in fluffy white snow. The cold from the window kisses my button nose and sends shivers down my spine. I better put on my winter clothes so mom doesn’t scold me. I dig through my closet and find the perfect winter gear and slide into them. Throwing on my backpack, I grab my beanie and stare at myself through my vanity mirror and smile. I wonder what the forest has planned for me today!

I shut my door and hurry down the hallway into the living room. A burst of freshly made coffee fills the air. Looks like mom is getting ready for her daily routine too. Every day she looks forward to a fresh cup of coffee and her spot in the library of the house. As I walk towards our boot station, I look up and see her pouring herself a cup. She looks up at me and smiles.

“Do you have everything you need, Anna?”

“Yes mama!”, my high pitch voice answers as I slip into my Hello Kitty snow boots. I run up to her and give the biggest hug my arms could give.

“Good girl! “ She coos as she bends down and kisses my head. Her beautiful brown hair that matches mine, falls around her face. “You be careful and don’t talk to any strangers, okay?”

“Ok!”, I beamed. I hurry to the front door and close it behind me as I step into the cold. I grab my mittens from my jacket pockets, pop them on, and drag my bike out onto the driveway. Taking a big leap onto the seat, I allow my legs to do the rest.

____

The ride is smooth against the salted road and the ends of my pigtails dance wildly in the cold air. The roads today are quiet with few people walking around. Mr. Jones walks towards his car and waves at me. Even though I couldn’t see his smile beneath his thick mustache, the crinkles by his eyes say a lot. I returned my wave and focused back on the road. Mom says it’s always important to watch where you’re going or else you’ll wind up turning into a raspberry pancake. As much I enjoy eating pancakes, I didn’t want to become one. Let alone a raspberry one.

I halt my bike to a stop in front of the forest and take in a deep breath of fresh air. I hop off my bike and guide it towards one of the trees. Placing my small hand against the tall tree I smile and look up. “Good morning Mr. Pine!” I wait for his response and watch as his branches sway softly. “I hope you don’t mind guarding my bike? I would like to visit your home today.” The air stood still and I leaned my bike gently against his bark. I grab onto the straps of my backpack and begin to walk towards my journey.

The snow crunches and squeaks underneath my boots as I follow the dents in the ground where my trail lays. When I first discovered this forest, I thought the right thing to do was create a trail for myself so I don’t get lost. I remember my mom giving me the weirdest look when she saw me attach her gardening shovel to my bike. When she learned what I had done with it, she gave me a cookie for being so smart. After that, I tried my best to do good things because those cookies were worth it.

____

Walking further into the forest, I spot the abandoned hut I always use. Before it used to look so ugly but with every visit, I made it looks better than ever. No one really visits the forest so it was safe enough to call it my own. The tall trees did their best to prevent too much snow from sitting on top of the hut and thankfully I had attached a blanket on top of the roof. That was a pain in the butt to do. I duck inside the hut and sit on the cold wooden bench. I wiggle my backpack off and throw it onto the floor. I unzip it and take out my journal that’s covered in stars. I dig a little deeper and found my favorite galaxy pen. I lean back and start to scribble out whatever comes to mind.

As I scribble away, something from the corner of my eye moves. Pausing I look up and stare at whatever it is. I watch as the extra purple blanket I had set aside from before, begins to move. My heart starts to beat a little faster against my chest and my curiosity begins to stir. Placing my journal and pen aside, I slowly get up and walk towards the blanket. I stop for a moment at the same time as the blanket, afraid of what would happen. I start to walk closer again and carefully reach out with my shaking fingers and lift the blanket immediately. What I saw startled me so much that I fell on my butt and my mouth drops open. A Dragon! But not just a dragon, a baby one too! I could tell they were a baby because normally in movies and books, dragons are a lot bigger and this one was the size of a dog. The dragon’s scales were round and pointy at the tips. It looked like a pile of shiny rubies. The dragon’s red-webbed wings were tucked to their sides and steam puffed from their bumpy nose as the dragon breathed in and out slowly. Concern pours over me as I saw how much the dragon tossed and turned. Poor baby must be uncomfortable in this cold weather. But how did the dragon get here? I didn’t see any tracks. Taking all of my courage I could summon, I decided to test the waters and crawl closer. I slowly reached out and placed my hand carefully against the dragon’s back. With each breath the dragon took, I traced my hand up and down their spine. The dragon felt cold to the touch. I start to frown. Aren’t dragons supposed to be up in the sky, flying around, happy as their heart allows them? The dragon looks up at me and sneezed. A small spark escapes the dragon’s mouth and I crawl back, worried there would be more. Green slime slowly drips from the dragon’s nose.

“You have a cold, don’t you?” Taking the purple blanket, I wrapped the dragon in hopes to keep them warm. The dragon closed their eyes and sighed. I need to take this dragon someplace warm but where would I take them? I know nothing about dragons! And mom would flip out if she saw the dragon. Guess I’m going to have to sneak the dragon into my room until I figure out what to do. I try to pick up the dragon but they were too heavy. “Can you walk?”

The dragon opens their emerald eyes and studies me. Probably doesn’t understand me. I signal to the dragon with my hands and walk backwards, motioning them to follow me. But that didn’t work either. Well, maybe the dragon is too weak? Maybe the dragon is hungry? I go to my backpack and searched around for food and found an apple. Ah-ha! This should work. I motion the dragon to sniff my apple and the dragon looked away in disinterest. So I bite into the apple and make satisfied noise to see if that works. Sure enough, the dragon sniffs the air and looks towards the apple, wiggling themselves out from the blanket. I bite a piece to share and the dragon took it greedily. Perfect! If I can get the dragon onto my bike, I can take the dragon home!

____

I grab the blanket and my belongings and start cutting the apple with my mouth to make a trail for the dragon to follow. The dragon ate eagerly as we moved towards the entrance of the forest. With one last step, I bump into my bike and Mr. Pine. Looking up, I quickly whispered,” Mr. Pine, I made a new friend! Wish me luck!” I grab my bike and swing it around, my hands sticky with apple juice. The dragon nudges my leg, mouth drooling for the rest of the apple. I smile and say, “You can have more if you sit on the back of my bike.” I patted the basket behind where I would sit. “Here.” I bite another piece of apple and place it carefully on the inside of the basket. The dragon’s eyes light up and a puff of smoke escapes their nose while they struggle head first into the small basket. A giggle bubbles from my mouth as I watched the dragon toss and turn, trying to position themselves so they don’t fall out of the basket. I grab the blanket from my bag and rewrapped the dragon. “If anyone asks, you’re a dog, ok? Dogs are good so that means you must be too!” I said patting the dragon’s head and feeding another piece of apple. The dragon made another quick sneeze with a spark following after. “I think I’m going to name you Sparks, how do you feel about that?” The dragon made a small chirping noise and nestled into the basket. “I’ll take that as a good sign.” I throw my leg over my bike and step on the pedals. With one big push, I shout behind me, “Thanks Mr. Pine for watching my bike!”

Getting home was easy without being noticed but it was much harder to ride my bike with the heavyweight of the dragon. I parked my bike to the side of my house so I could sneak a peek through the windows to see where mom is. Just as I suspected, she was cuddled up in the corner of her library, sipping coffee while reading one of her books. Now was my chance to sneak Sparks into my bedroom. I rush over to my bike and nudge Sparks awake. Taking the leftover apple that slowly turned brown, I had Sparks follow me over to my window. “Ok, if you want the rest of this apple, I need you to stay here so I can go inside and open this window.” I quickly ran to the front door and quietly opened it and sneaked inside. Closing it as quietly as I can, I tip-toe my way to my bedroom and opened the window. Waving the apple, Sparks looks up and a long, thick string of drool stretches from the dragon’s mouth, all the way down to the ground. “Ok, come here!” I whisper. I walk backwards holding the apple and watched as Sparks jumps into my room, squeezing themselves through the opening. “Good dragon!” I said as I toss the rest of the apple, core and all. Sparks leaps into the air and snatches it in one bite.

I take a seat on my soft bed and study the baby dragon as they sniff around my room. How could a dragon exist in this world? How was it possible? What’s mom going to say? How long will I be able to keep Sparks a secret? All these questions buzzed around my head, making my stomach do flip-flops. But one thing for sure about all of this how exciting this all felt. Sparks tries to climb one of my wooden dressers and sends my stuff crashing to the floor as they fit themselves among my collection of things. I dive to catch one of my glass unicorn statues but I was a little too late as it hit the hardwood floor and shatters. “Oh no!” I gasped.

____

Anna?!

She’ll be here any minute! I look around and throw a blanket over Sparks and rush to the door, closing it behind me.

“What was that noise, are you okay?”

I turn around, my heart beating fast in my chest. “Uh, what noise?”

Mom crosses her arms. “I could have sworn I heard something break.”

“Oh, that noise! Yeah, I accidentally knocked over one of my unicorn statues because I was so hungry that my arm just spazzed out.” I rub my belly to add strength to my story.

“Aw, baby! Let’s go get you some food, you’re not hurt or anything are you?” She asks as she pulls me in for a hug.

I look up at her and try to give the best puppy look I could give. “No, I’m fine, just reaaaally hungry.”

“Ok, I’ll make some sandwiches for us, I’m pretty hungry myself!” She says as she plants a kiss on my head.

“Hey mom, can you make an extra one?” I ask, batting my eyes.

Her eyebrow raises and gives in without arguing. “Sure baby, whatever you want.”

“Great! I’m going to clean up my mess real quick, I’ll be out in a jiffy once I’m done!”

I break away from her arms and dash back into my bedroom, closing the door so quickly that she didn’t get a chance to peek inside.

“That was a close call Sparks!” I look over and saw the dragon fast asleep in the nest of stuffed animals and blankets on my bed. Some of the pillows were ripped apart, making me groan. I’m going to have a hard time explaining that one to mom. I quickly clean up the mess and toss the unsalvageable broken unicorn statue into my trash can underneath my desk. I tiptoe to the baby dragon and gently pet them, whispering, “I’ll be right back”. As I leave the bedroom, I take one last peek at Sparks before shutting the door. My lips curl into a smile. It felt nice to have a companion all to myself.

____

I tear away at my sandwich, hoping to get to Sparks before they wake up.

“Slow down, Anna! You’re going to choke if you don’t chew your food.”

I gulp down some juice and wipe away at my lips with my arm. “Sorry, mom.” I take another bite and chew a bit slower. “Hey, mom?”

“Yeah, hun?”

“Do you by chance have books about dragons?”

She takes her mug into her hands and sits back. “I think so…You’ll have to dig around though, I’m not sure where. Why?”

Swallowing the last bit of my sandwich, I answer, “Just an interest.”

I stand up and place the extra sandwich on my plate and quickly give mom a peck on the cheek. “Thanks for lunch, I love you!” I dash off to the library.

Mom shouts, “Don’t forget to put the books back where you found them!”

“Ok!”

“And don’t get food on them!”

“I won’t!” I shout.

____

My mom’s library is my favorite part of the house. The room is quite large and the walls are covered in shelves. Recently she reorganized her books by color after seeing a fad on the internet. It’s no wonder she can’t remember where the dragon books are. I place the plate on the floor and begin my search. I run my fingers along the spines of the books as I read each one. The texture of the spines switch back and forth from smooth to rough. It takes me five minutes but I finally find a few. I grab as many as I can and stick some underneath my arms and reach for my plate. I run towards my room and almost crash into mom.

“Woah there!”

“Sorry!” I squeak as I shift the books. They almost fell!

“It’s ok. Enjoy your reading!”

“Thanks mom!” I rush to my bedroom and awkwardly open my door and push it close with my butt. I place the books down on my vanity and take the plate over to Sparks. The dragon had their eyes closed until their nose caught the scent of the food I had. Sparks leaps from their nap and crawls towards me, chirping.

Shhhhh! Here, this is for you.” I pick the sandwich off the plate and toss it in the air. Sparks leaps up and snatches it in one bite. “I don’t know what dragons eat so you’ll just have to eat the same foods I do. Not that you seem to mind” Sparks nuzzles under my chin and coos. “I need to do some reading so I’m going to need you to share the bed and be good, can you do that?” Sparks dives back into the nest they made and cuddles the stuffed animals. I grab the books and shuffle myself onto the bed, careful not to drop them or jab myself. I start with the one that looks more appealing. A Guide Into The Dragon World. The book is large and the cover is red with a texture that was supposed to mimic dragon scales and a giant dragon eye right in the middle. It wasn’t as pretty as Sparks though. I open the book and the spine makes a cracking sound. Looks like mom hasn’t read these yet. Turning the pages, I begin to read the first chapter.

Dragons are sacred beings and should be handled with care and respect 

if you ever come across one. They are beautiful creatures and their minds 

are sharper than you may think. Though they cannot speak, they understand

all languages across the land. 

I pause for a moment and stare in awe at Sparks. “Woah! You are so smart!”

Sparks looks up and licks the inside of their nose. My face scrunches up and the dragon makes a clicking sound at my reaction. Rolling my eyes I cover my face with the book and continue to read.

To tell the difference between a male dragon and a female dragon, you must

pay attention to the shape of their scales. Males have pointier tips whereas

female scales are round at the top.

I take a glance away from my book and study Sparks’s ruby scales. The tips were pointy and not round. Well, that says a lot since he literally picked his nose earlier out of spite.

The book continued about where dragons came from and the history throughout the years. I read so much till the point I fell asleep and dreamt about dragons. I wake up to the sound of mom’s cooking and her shouting from the kitchen, “Anna, dinner!

I wipe the sleep drool from my face and kissed Sparks on the head. “I’m going to go have dinner but I promise to bring something back for you. Stay here and don’t come out.” I push the book off my lap and slide off the bed, following the smell of food.

____

After dinner, I sneaked a slice of vegetable lasagna mom had made and quickly taken it to my bedroom after getting ready for bed and saying goodnight. I opened my bedroom door and saw Sparks was pacing around the bedroom and waddled his way up to me when he saw the food I had brought. I had to place it on the floor immediately because Sparks tried to pounce me. Thankfully I didn’t get scratched from his sharp claws.

“Sorry it took so long but I’m here now,” I said as I watched the little dragon gobble up the lasagna. Sparks didn’t seem to mind and thanked me by licking my arm with his long, pink, snake-like tongue. “Want to come read with me before we sleep?” Sparks hummed in response and took that as a yes.

We crawled into bed and I grabbed the book from earlier while Sparks nuzzles against my cheek. As I flip through the pages to look at the pictures, I noticed a footnote at the bottom.

If you found a dragon in your world and need assistance, follow the tasks

listed below to call upon a Dragon Sage to help guide you and your

dragon friend. Make sure to complete these tasks precisely and in an open area.

“Look Sparks, we can call someone to help us take care of you!” I look over and Sparks is fast asleep, snoring softly. I read over the tasks and the ingredients needed and it looks like everything I’ll need to call a Dragon Sage is all in the forest! I tuck the book away underneath my pillow and turn off my lamp. I squeeze my eyes shut and try to get myself to fall asleep in hopes the morning comes around quicker.

____

The next morning I woke up to Sparks chirping away, more than usual.

Shhhhh! We don’t want mom to find out about you! I don’t even know if people are supposed to know about real dragons.” Sparks bows his head in apology and runs up to me, licking my face and making me giggle. “You must be feeling much better, huh?”

I look towards my window and noticed my room was much brighter today. I quickly jump out of bed and move the curtain over to take a peek outside. I almost gasped! There’s no more snow! All the snow has melted as though it never existed in the first place. The birds are singing loudly and the neighbor’s calico named Felix was chasing a gopher. I move away from the window and get myself dressed for the day. A part of me feels like today is going to be long so I better head out early.

I take care of my normal routines, a little faster than usual, and packed some lunch for Sparks and I. I stuff my backpack which was a little heavier with the thick pack of lunch and the dragon guide book. I grab my coat and throw on my shoes. “Ok Sparks, I’m going to open my window so you can crawl out. Once you’re out, I’m going to throw a blanket on you and you need to hide while I come around outside, ok?” Sparks blew a puff of smoke in agreement and we did exactly as planned.

I grab my things and head to the front door. Not seeing mom anywhere, I shout, “I’m leaving!” And scribbled a note, taping it to the door so she’ll see it. Closing the door behind me, I dash to where I left my bike and whispered, “Sparks! I’m ready!”

I wait and see Sparks running towards me, the blanket dances over him looking like a floating ghost. He leaps onto the back of my bike and into the basket. I swing my leg over and steady myself before pushing off. “Let’s do this!”

____

The air feels amazing as I ride my bike quickly through town. We ride so fast, the blanket flies off of Sparks just as we pass Mr. Jones. He stares with his mouth hanging open, his fresh sip of coffee gushes onto his white shirt and drips from his chin. His black mug slips from his hands and shatters onto the pavement, steaming liquid splashes over his slippers and plaid pajama pants. I smile and wave like nothing happened and he just rubs his bushy eyes. As I focus on the road, I could hear him shout for his wife as he runs inside his house. A laugh bursts through my chest as we fly through town.

We reach the forest and park the bike with Mr. Pine. “Good morning! We’re here to use your forest today.” The branches sway in the wind as usual and we proceed to enter the forest. Sparks tries to test his wings as we walk along the path I made. He runs and stretches his beautiful webbed-wings but there isn’t enough wind power. “It’s probably not the best place to try here, Sparks. Too many trees.” He grunts and decides to chase bugs instead for a snack. I pull out the guide book from my backpack and flip through the pages and land on the page with the tasks.

For ingredients you will need:

 Water from a stream

 Dragon’s Breath

 An offering

 Three flowers

Once you have gathered these ingredients, you must draw a star on the earth 

and draw a circle in the middle of that star. Place the ingredients inside the 

circle and say these two lines:

Hear me now, oh Dragon Sage

Accept these offerings I present to you.

That doesn’t sound too hard! I place my backpack onto the ground with the book on top and grab a bucket from the hut. “Sparks!” I call. Looking around I spot the baby dragon as he runs full speed towards me and knocks me over, the bucket flies from my hands. “Are you sure you’re a dragon?” I ask as I push him off and pull myself up. He nibbles at my fingers, chirping away. I pick my bucket up and dust myself off. “Ready to help me find ingredients? I need water from a stream and three flowers. Which do you want to find?” He takes the bucket from my hand with his mouth and runs off. Well that answers my question. Luckily for me, I knew where some flowers would be.

____

I walk down further into the forest until I saw some blue flowers growing beside some trees. I carefully pick them and made sure not to crush them in my hand as I walk back to the hut. Sparks was waiting there for me already, lying on the ground watching bugs crawl around.

The next step was to draw a star and a circle in the middle. I placed the flowers inside the hut while looking for something to draw with and spotted a tall stick. Grabbing the long stick, I walk outside and clear the ground with my sneakers. I begin to draw the star, as large as I can, and then added the circle. I take a step back and admire my work of art. “Ok, now we can begin the process of the summoning” Sparks stretched his wings in response. I pick up the bucket of water and place it inside the circle and toss the flowers from the hut into the water. The next step was adding an offering, but what can I give? I ran back into the hut and dig inside my backpack. My galaxy pen! I grab it and go back to the bucket and toss it in. “Sparks, one over here, please. Be careful of the drawing.” Sparks walks slowly over to me, watching his footing. “I need you to breathe into this bucket, can you do that?”

He takes a deep breath and exhales into the bucket. We take a step back and watch as the bucket begins to glow. Now to say the words.

“Hear me now, oh Dragon Sage, accept these offerings I present to you.”

At first nothing happened but then the ground starts to shake and the drawing in the earth lights up. I hug Sparks and close my eyes. I could hear my heart drumming loudly in my ears.

____

“My, my, what do we have here?”

I open my eyes to the sound of the elderly voice and gasp. The Dragon Sage was small! Slightly smaller than me! He also wore a long teal robe and had a big grey beard.

Yes, we come in all shapes and sizes! 

The voice in my head made my eyes widen. “You can hear my thoughts?!”

The Dragon Sage chuckles. “Yes, I can understand your thoughts. It’s one of the ways that helps us understand dragons.

Woah.

“Now, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Iar Snareheart and I will be your guide. How may I be at your assistance, Anna?”

He knows my name! But of course, he does, he can read minds. “Well..uh…I found Sparks here in this forest inside that hut over there yesterday.”

Iar nods while stroking his bushy beard. “I see, I thought I felt a dragon leave the world. And I see you even gave him a name!”

“What do you mean you ‘felt’ the dragon leave?”

“Well, whenever a dragon falls out of our world, us Sages feel almost like there is a shift in the air.” Iar steps out of the circle and walks towards Sparks. “There are random portals that will open up in our world which is how dragons, or other beings, can get caught into them and thus arrive in another world.”

“Iar, are we supposed to have dragons in this world?”

Iar feeds something to Sparks and pats him. “In your world, no. It’s difficult for dragons when they switch worlds and it affects their health and the climate.”

Sparks did have a cold when I first met him but thankfully he seems better now.

“I know of this one’s family now that I got a good look at his face. His mother has been very moody lately since his disappearance.”

My chest begins to feel heavy. His poor mom misses him! “Iar, is it possible for you to take him home where he belongs?”

“I can, yes. Is that what you wish to do?”

I didn’t want to but it feels like the right thing to do. “Yes.” I walk over to Sparks and took his face into my small hands. “You’ve been a great friend, Sparks. I’m going to miss you a lot but you need to get home where you belong.” I give him a big hug and a tear falls down my face and onto one of his ruby scales. I release him and step back so that Iar could do his thing.

____

I watch as Iar whispers something to Sparks and Sparks chirps in response. Iar then takes one of Sparks’s scales and places it on his palm. He waves his hand and a flash of red light glows in his palm.

“Anna, would you come here please?”

I walk to him and he places something warm in my hand. I open my hand and its a necklace!

“Because you gave Sparks a name, you both now have an unbreakable bond. This necklace is a part of him that keeps that bond close no matter how far apart you both are.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! More tears fall down my cheeks as I slide on the red necklace and hold it in my hand. There was a warm pulse coming from it and it felt comforting.

“Thank you, Iar.”

He nods his head and his eyes crinkle like Mr. Jones. He waves his hands over Sparks and mumbles some words I couldn’t understand and whatever it was, it made Sparks so tiny! He was the same size as my unicorn statues.

“This is so that Sparks can fit into the portal with me,” Iar explains. “Dragon Sages have the ability to call a portal if they need one. Saves us old ones from having to travel on foot.” Iar says with a wink. He picks up Sparks and holds him steady on his palms and pulls out a staff from his robes. He then takes the staff and pounds it on the ground and a portal appears. It was so pretty and looks as though someone took an eraser and erased a part of the earth.

“Goodbye Anna.”

“Goodbye Iar, thank you for all your help!” I rub the tears away and shout “Goodbye Sparks!” And they slowly slip away back to their own world. The portal disappears and the earth is whole again.

 

 
 
 
Written by: Jamie Board