Fire Breather

by Porter Goodman

by Porter Goodman

“Jake. Jake. Jake. Jake. Jake.”  Jake wasn’t responding even though Odi was increasing in volume at a constant rate. Maybe Jake was just pretending to still be asleep because he already knew it wasn’t important. Odi could never tell what Jake would think was important, and he couldn’t remember if dragons were a good thing or a bad thing. This dragon seemed to be playing a game with him though, so maybe it wasn’t important.

Odi kept his eyes locked on the dragon. It was part of the game. The morning sun was shining on the dark red scales on it’s back, which were visible over the top of the grass that it was trying to hide in. Odi turned away for just a second before whipping back to see that the dragon had moved considerably closer and was now holding still partially behind a tree. It made Odi laugh and smile every time. He had first spotted the dragon when it was very far away, and it took a little while before he realized that it was playing a game with him. He was amazed that the dragon could hold so perfectly still as long as he was watching, and then move so far in the brief moments that he looked away. Odi was slightly troubled though. He had seen a painting of a dragon before, so he knew what it was when he saw it. He always remembered things that he saw, but he had a hard time remembering all of the other stuff. And now he was having trouble imagining how this game would end.

“Jake. Jake. Jake. Jake…”

“What!?” Jake groaned, now half awake and grumpy.

Maybe it was a mistake, Odi thought. Maybe he shouldn’t bring it up directly. Jake was usually only annoyed by questions, but when Odi made wrong assumptions Jake would make him feel like an idiot, and Odi didn’t like feeling embarrassed and stupid. Questions were safer. The problem was, Odi wasn’t exactly sure what to ask.

“Jake, are dragons important?” Odi tested.

Jake, eyes still shut, wrinkled his forehead, “Is this question important?” Jake already seemed irritated.

“It might be. I don’t know.” Odi was already regretting bringing it up.

“Well, if you figure it out, let me know.” Jake rolled onto his side to fall back asleep, then added, “Unless you figure out that it isn’t important. Then let me keep sleeping.”

Odi had been looking at Jake while they talked, but then he remembered the game. The surprise of seeing the dragon so close almost made him fall backward. It was crouched low to the ground only twenty feet away and it’s wings were half spread as if it had been preparing to pounce when it had frozen still again under Odi’s gaze. Odi laughed again, delighted at the creature’s skill, and marveled at it’s beauty and elegance. Now that it was closer, though, he noticed that the dragon’s expression didn’t appear playful. It stared straight into Odi’s eyes with a perfect stillness that seemed to require too much focus for a game. Of course, how would he know if a dragon’s facial expression looked playful or not? Still, it made him uneasy.

He thought of asking Jake again. Odi really didn’t want to feel like an idiot again, but ignoring the dragon didn’t seem like something normal people would do. On second thought, maybe it was normal. Odi could imagine people ignoring a dragon just as easily as he could imagine them reacting any other way to a dragon. How was he supposed to predict whether or not Jake would think it was important?

For now, Odi enjoyed seeing the dragon in greater detail and, for the first time, he saw the dragon move. It flashed it’s tongue, like a snake tasting the air. Odi thought about looking away again, so that it would come closer, and he could get an even better look at it. But first he really needed to ask one last question, just to be sure. He decided to risk it. “Jake. Would you want to know if a dragon was in our camp?”

Jake’s eyes popped wide open.


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