The boy wanted nothing more than to return to the tower.
He missed the girl and her dragon terribly, and nothing in his dull village ever compared to the magic of his new favourite place.
But he couldn’t return. Not right away. The girl had gone too far. All he did was try to suggest ways she could leave the tower. Something she never stopped talking about. Why was he suddenly the villain for trying to help her?
He wasn’t. He knew that. She just didn’t know what she wanted. And so, he’d give her time to think about it. And then return in a week’s time, sure to get an apology.
In the meantime, there was nothing for him to do, except focus on his schoolwork, which his mother continually told him he was failing. But he could no longer concentrate.
His mother stood at his shoulder one evening, as he tapped his pencil on his page, thinking about days spent with the girl, and the magic that surrounded them all the time.
“You’ve barely begun!” she snapped, leading him to jump and drop his pencil to the ground. He turned to meet her eyes. “What’s gotten into you?”
“Nothing,” he mumbled. “I’m only tired.”
His mother shook her head. “It’s all those strolls in the forest. You’re gone for hours at a time. That’s it.”
The boy stood up in shock. “What? What’s it?”
“No more forest strolls,” she commanded.
“But mama!” he cried, eyes growing wide, and his heart stuttering in his chest, so fast he felt it in his toes.
She held up a hand. “I want no arguments. Do you want the village to believe you strange again?” she asked. “Do you not remember the trouble you caused with all your ramblings?”
“But mama, it’s real! I found it!” he burst, forgetting that he wanted the magic all to himself.
His mother narrowed her eyes. Inside the house was warm, and a kettle was whistling on the stove. The boy wiped at his brow, stepping back until his lefs hit the table.
“What did you say?” she asked, too quiet to be anything but menacing.
“Nothing,” he said, the word flying out of his mouth, desparate to repair his error.
“That’s right,” she nodded. “Nothing. You make sure it stays that way.” She approached the stove, the kettle screaming for attention, then turned back to him. “And remember. No more forest strolls.”
The boy gulped, eyes filling with despair, but he looked down at his shoes, and whispered, “Yes, mama.”
TO BE CONTINUED