The girl never thought it would happen – her forever dream coming true. But it did. She made a friend. And then she was happy just to see him from afar, and speak with him as she’d never done with any human before. She was not ungrateful enough to keep wishing.
But when he touched down on the floor of her tower room, she realised she had been wishing for something more. Someone she could see as clear as day, and hear right beside her. A boy far below on the forest floor was great, but a friend to spend the days in her tower with was a million times better.
Every morning, the boy would return with a picnic basket filled, and the dragon would assess him before lifting him through the air, and dropping him off. The girl would bake a new kind of cookie before he arrived, and a fresh batch would be piled onto a plate to add to the picnic. So far, as she’d predicted, his favourite were her cream cheese cookies.
They would sit and enjoy the picnic, he telling stories about his days in the village, and she telling stories about her life in the tower. As time went on, her stories ran out, but she didn’t mind, because all she wanted to hear was more and more stories about the outside world, and everything she was missing out on.
“Have you ever tried climbing down?” he asked her, one afternoon, belly full of cookies and jam.
“Heavens, no. Have you seen how high it is off the ground? I’m far too terrified,” she replied. She spread a pancake with jam and dropped it to the dragon, watching its descent, imagining it was she, on her way to the dragon’s mouth.
“Too terrified to even try?”
The girl turned from the window to appraise him. He didn’t notice, brushing crumbs off the side of his mouth. When she said nothing, he looked up.
“I only mean,” he said, fearing he’d upset her, “that you speak as though you would do anything to leave this place, yet there are simple things you can try that you haven’t.”
She crossed her arms against her. He recognised it as a defense, and sat up straighter. “It’s so easy for you to come here, from out there where you have everything, and judge me and what I do. If you’d lived in this place half as long as I have, you may not think it so simple.”
“So you are resigned to being stuck here forever?”
The girl sniffed, her shoulders becoming tense. She did not like where this was going. It was true that she dreamed of a life outside, but she knew it was far beyond her reach. The dragon couldn’t take her away, and she was not going to climb or jump out of the window. And, since there was no door, what else could she do but stay there?
Besides, her room was great. She had everything she needed. And, now that the boy was visiting her, she even had a friend. Leaving would make no sense. The boy couldn’t guarantee her a well-lived life outside, nor could he promise a home as comfortable as the one she was accustomed to.
All he could offer were daft schemes dressed up as solutions.
“I can’t eat another morsel,” she said, walking past the boy to her piano. “Perhaps you ought to leave.”
The boy’s mouth fell. “Leave? Why?”
Playing a melancholy tune, she shrugged. “I’m rather tired, and our conversation may suffer for it.”
“Right,” he said, stuffing the remnants of their picnic into his basket. He stood up, more crumbs falling in a circle around him. “I suppose I’ll see you tomorrow.”
The girl turned. “Maybe tomorrow is too soon.” Again, the boy’s mouth fell open. “Let us meet in two days instead.”
Now the boy was angry. “How about we stay apart for a week?” And, not giving her any opportunity to respond in any way, he called down to the dragon that he was ready to go.
Moments later, the girl watched from her window as the boy stumbled through the trees, the basket swinging at his side.
“Good riddance,” she thought, followed rather quickly by, “What have I done?“
TO BE CONTINUED