In that same far away land, long ago, there lived a boy with his mother. His father had died many moons before but left his mother and him a sum of money large enough to keep them comfortable. And, with the money his mother made from her art pieces beloved all over the village, the boy never wanted for anything. He had all he needed right at his doorstep.
But it was never enough.
He wanted something more. Something else. Something that would make life more meaningful. All his life, he’d felt something on the fringes of his reality. Something blurred in his periphery, that always called to him. He could never quite make out what it was, and whenever he’d mention it to a neighbour or school teacher, they’d say he needed to stop paying such attention to his imagination. Even his artist mother didn’t indulge him.
Speaking of fanciful things is not becoming of a young boy, she’d say, as she painted cotton candy clouds, and giants tall as castle towers. It seemed to be fine to pretend, but if one were to suggest these imaginings could be real, people would begin to turn their eyes, ever so subtly, to the asylum. But he knew he wasn’t crazy. Something shimmered in the air, wanting him to search it out, and discover its hiding place.
And so he learned to keep quiet, adhere to the standards of the village and all its people. All the while, he continued his search. He’d walk far, following the feeling in his belly. He couldn’t explain it. He just knew he was being led somewhere.
The search proved somewhat fruitless. Mostly, he’d wander through the trees for hours, and return home, scratched and exhausted. But his resolve never wavered. If anything, it became stronger. The longer it took to find something tangible, the harder he tried. There were times he felt he was getting close, times where the feeling in his belly grew powerful enough to almost weigh him down. But still he didn’t find exactly what he was looking for.
One night, becoming desperate, he sat on his bed, closed his eyes, and wished with all his might. Wished to any power there was in the universe, wished to that feeling he’d always known, and the presence lingering in the air. Wished to find what he was searching for. He went to bed with hope tingling all through his body. Tomorrow would be the day. He could sense it.
He awoke, bright and early, packed a light lunch of bread and jam, and set off before the sun crested over the hills. Taking a deep breath, he headed straight into the trees, and kept walking as long as his legs could go. He felt the heat, hours later, even through the thick canopy, sweat beading on his forehead, and he stopped to hurriedly eat his lunch. He was up and walking soon after, because the sense of something had never been stronger.
And, sure enough, only mere minutes after filling his belly, he stepped out into a clearing and his mouth dropped at the sight.
The sun was shining off the tip of a tall tower, and a dragon was curled around its base. He exclaimed and began jumping up and down. He’d done it. He’d found what he was looking for. And now, looking it right in its eye, he realised what it was he’d been after.
He shouted to the dragon, asked for its name. It made no movement, except to grumble a little louder. Smoke curled up into the sky and, as the boy’s eyes followed it, his mouth dropped even more at what he saw in the tower window.
It was a girl.
A real, live, human girl.
TO BE CONTINUED