We are going on vacation soon, so why do I feel a slight sorrow when I think of it? I know why. It’s because there are families out there who, instead of preparing to go somewhere fun, are starving, searching for food, hoping for money, wondering why this had to happen to them. While a problem for us is not being able to find a battery charger for our camera, and problem for them is not having food to eat. While an issue for us is having a flat tire on our car, an issue for them is having no shelter from the scorching heat, no water. While me and my siblings bicker over the TV remote, or who gets to ride the little wooden go cart down the dirt pile first, someone almost always says, “Unfair.” This word must often echo in the mind of those watching others eat while they starve. While they watch others gulp down water and splash it on their necks while they would give money for a sip.
I, Shadowfall, wake to the sunlight streaming in from the trees overhead. It is severe weather season, so the warmth is almost unbearable, after the chilly weather yesterday. I rise and stretched, I have to hunt, and in this weather that will not be difficult. I drop into a hunting crouch. The soft grass beneath my claws is a temptation to lure me back to sleep. Then I hear the rustling of prey in the bushes and my senses are focused. I catch several rabbits and a willow warp: a prehistoric like bird. As I sit down to eat my cache, I see a griffon staring hungrily at my catch. “ Come and share with me!” I call, “ I caught to much anyways.”
“Are you sure?” the griffon asks, slinking out of the bushes, “ I hurt my paw, and it’s a bit difficult to hunt.”
“I’m sure.” I confirm, even though the griffon’s limp is an obvious fake, “I would be glad to share.”
“ Thank you.” The griffon says. As I settle down to eat once again, I lift my wings high to show that I am host of this meal. I get half way through my third rabbit when I hear a rustling in the bushes. I swivel my head in that direction. I almost choke on my rabbit. Sitting there, in the bushes, is a female, middle sized, human. She does not have the bulkiness of the Hiltons or the barbaric look of such. Her eyes find mine and she lets out a gasp of terror. The griffon hears, and he turns his head and growls when he sees the producer of the noise. I immediately jump up and rush over to the girl. Apparently she is frozen with fright, for she does not run. I make it to her and lightly place a paw on her chest. I then lift my head to the griffon.
“ This is my meal griffon, I’ve shared with you enough.” The griffon rears, up as if to attack, only to drop back onto all fours when he realizes my size and strength. The griffon slinks into the bushes, glaring at the girl and me the whole time. As soon as I thought the griffon cannot hear me I said, “Do not fear, I will not harm you.”
“But you said you’d eat me.” the girl trembles as she speaks.
“That was a lie to get the griffon away.” I assure her. “The griffon sees you as a rare meal, I on the other hand, do not.”
“Than you won’t eat me?” the girl asks.
“No, of course not.” I say, amused, “ I care more about what you have to say, than what my taste buds do.”
“Oh,” She says, still sounding suspicious. “My name is Hannah.”
“ My name is Shadowfall.” I say, hoping she will trust me now. I see that she is considering something- I hope it is trust- so I soar up into a tree overhead, and grab a cluster of berries witch I know are edible. I drop back down and see Hannah gazing at me with a curious look on her face. “ I didn’t think that you ate rabbits.” I say bluntly not knowing what else to say. She examines the berries, takes a bite, and ends up eating the whole cluster. She then lies down beside me, and falls asleep.
I lie there thinking over the events of today, where did this girl come from anyway? The island had long since been declared impossible to leave. Therefore it should be impossible to come to. I also regret making the griffon unhappy, the griffons and I had been overall friendly with each other since my childhood. It now seemed as if we were mortal enemies. Not good at all. The griffons, for some, unknown reason, are higher ranking than the dragons. Which means that they could easily arrange for me to go and live in the polar wasteland. Prey is near to impossible to find there. I do not want to end up in the polar wastelands. Not ever. Its like freeze weather, permanent.
I should probably apologize to the griffon and let him eat the girl after all. But, I’m afraid that I have already told her that she can trust me. Plus, my better judgment tells me that I’m not the kind of person to hand over an innocent soul to anybody to be eaten. Let alone to be eaten by a griffon! The way they tear their meals apart is completely barbaric! No, I would face the griffon and tell him he could not eat her- or die defending the girl. I hope it would not come to that.
I wake up before Hannah, the bright sunlight reflecting off the snow outside. I wonder if Hannah will mention last night? If she doesn’t then I won’t. I think to myself. To be honest I myself had not been able to sleep without Hannah laying under my wing. I had even tried the old method my parents had taught me when I was young: counting bones. Oh well, all had worked out in the end. Hannah stirs and sits up, we exchange the usual “good morning”, but there is something odd in the air. It could be the fact that yesterday we had defeated the greatest villain of all time, flown him over one hundred miles and put him in prison. Now that is just a guess but…..
Hannah once again asks me of thing unknown, I answer her as best I can. Then she asks to go check if Bookem is awake, apparently she is as hungry as me.
I go and walk up the long hallway, following the scent of last nights stew, and see that Bookem is awake. Awake and cooking. Funny that I did not smell it.
“Oh, good morning Shadowfall.” Bookem said in his quiet feeble manner. “Why don’t you go wake up Hannah?”
“Sure.” I mumble, yesterday I had really very rude to the old elf and I hope to somehow make up for it. I pad slowly to my room and stand in front of the door, dumbfounded. Um…. I finally bang my head against the door, hoping Hannah opens it on the first knock.
She does, and I am shocked to see a long silky garment draped around her. She looks absolutely beautiful. I tell her so as she shuts the door. I am about to tell her that breakfast is nearly ready, when there is a knock on the door. Hannah opens it up and there is Bookem himself. He gasps when he sees Hannah in what, apparently, was his late wife’s ‘dress’. Hannah blushes and goes into the closet. Odd.
Bookem ushers me out of the room and into the hallway, on the way to the kitchen I scent another dragon. I bound ahead of Bookem and rush into the kitchen, growling. There I see an ice dragon, a species I had only heard of. It’s scales seem almost see through, a silver blue that would rival ice’s beauty. It’s eyes look almost evil, gleaming a red orange. And there are icicle like spikes protruding from the pointed head.
“Do not worry Shadowfall,” Bookem says, “This is my delivery dragon, Iceclaw. He is the only one who can survive the cold out there for long.” he turns to Iceclaw, “Iceclaw, I am going to need you to deliver some meat, whatever kind you dragons like, and some vegetables fit for your dear queen who is, in fact, who I am going to serve it to.”
“What? The queen is here? The legend of the boy is true?” Iceclaw demands in a thickly accented voice. He must be from the Walson mountains.
“Yes, to answer all of your questions is yes.” Bookem replies.
Iceclaw looks dumbfounded.
“Yeah, she’s been in my care for about the past moon or so.” I say, wanting to impress this dragon. “I found her stranded and alone and took her in.”
“Wow, you are going to be one important dragon you know that?”
Iceclaw says, giving me satisfaction.
“Yes he is,” Bookem breaks in, “Especially since he was the one who brought in the Dark Lord.”
“You caught the Dark Lord?” Iceclaw sounds disbelieving.
“Well, me and Hannah.” Then realizing that he did not know Hannah, I added, “The queen.”
“Our leader is going to be queen.” Iceclaw sounds disgusted, “A female.”
“Hey have you got something against Hannah?” I demand, wondering how, before he had even met her, he could not like the sweet soul that is now my best friend.
“Well, nothing personal…” Iceclaw begins.
“But she is a tad young.” Bookem finishes.
“Young!” Iceclaw exclaims, hushing his voice, “How young?”
“I don’t know, around ten or eleven I guess.” Bookem replies.”
“She is young but intelligent!” I say indignantly.
“Obviously not intelligent enough, because this conversation in no longer private.” Either I am imagining things or that is a threat.
As I, Hannah Lee, walk into my deserted home, I do not notice the absence of my working mother. I am way too excited. For months I had saved, and now I have it, the beautiful glass dragon. Now that it is finally mine, I have no idea what to do with it. I am not normally interested in dragons. This unique figurine has, for some unexplainable reason, caught my eye.
I run into my bedroom, wondering where to put this crystal-like figure. I look up and down my book filled shelves, hmm, not there. Then I see it, the perfect place: right there on my nightstand. I sit down on my bed and place the dragon into position. As I do so a ray of sunshine falls upon it and there is a dazzling light. Then all goes dark.
I wake to a bright sunlight, not white like our sun, but red… blood red. Even more astonishing are my surroundings. On one side a blue-violet ocean roars with waves, and, to my other side, are what seem to be endless trees. I stand, the softness of my bed instantly vanishing.
What should I do? What can I do? I am only twelve years old!
Then I hear a distant roar. Not hostile, but an inviting sort of roar. Surprised at myself for knowing the difference, I walk toward the sound. Curiosity overwhelming fear, I push my way through the trees noticing every sound I make as I go along. As I make my way to a clearing I see something that makes my heart skip a beat; in the clearing stands an enormous, ebony black dragon. Sitting beside it, biting into a plentiful pile of half eaten rabbit carcasses is a griffon.
A silver pick-up turns off the highway and onto a side-road, gravel crunching beneath the wheels. The driver opens the door, a wave of sage-tinted air rolls into the vehicle. Stepping out, he surveys his surroundings; A cluster of tall trees on either side of the road, wild plum bushes growing in the shade of the larger plants, wildflowers dot the road side. He walks over to the old rusty gate blocking his path to more wilderness, trees, and creatures. After a button has been pushed the gate slowly creaks open. The driver hops into his truck and pulls through, just before the gate shuts behind him. The truck crawls down the road, now wagon tracks, partially so slow to look in awe at the nature surrounding him, and partially to look out for cows.
The drive is uneventful, and soon he reaches the second gate, which he opens in the same manner as the first. Now he enters The Ranch. The wagon tracks turn to gravel again as he passes the old barn. Inside the old barn sits a tractor, a four-wheeler, and a golf-cart.
Then the cabin comes into view.
Cream-colored tin for the walls, and a red tin roof. Two story, with a small porch that housed two comfortable chairs. A curving stone path cuts through the big green lawn to the porch. The lawn is shaded by ancient trees, and is also home to elaborate benches, and slabs of red orange rock. The yard is surrounded by a wood rail fence, old, yet sturdy. A life-size statue of a heron stands in an open spot among the trees, wings open as if it were about to take off. It almost looks as if he is guarding the tomato garden, and the horseshoe setup nearby.
The first time you drive up it is like waking into a dream.
He enters the house, glancing at the sign on the door that says, “Mi casa es su casa.” My house is your house. He opens the big wooden door into a small entry way will a rustic bench and a staircase to the side. The walls are wood planked and have Native American dream-catchers hanging on them.
He walks into the living room. On a tall table sits a lamp. The base is made of rock, and the shade is metal with shapes punched out of the rim. The ceiling opens up to the second story, the balcony overlooking the room. There is a tan leather couch backed up to the table, and a glass coffee table is in the center of the room. A black chair is to the right of the coffee table, with a footrest and a small table beside it. Across the room from the chair is another, with common material but intricate designs. Pillows top the couch and a rustic rug covers the floor beneath all of the above. A fireplace is across from the couch, and you can just picture a crackling, popping fire roaring there in the winter.
Then he enters the dining room and kitchen, where an old, old wooden table centers the room, a fridge on one side, a stove on the other. He opens the back door, and steps onto a roomy deck, where an outdoor table and several matching chairs sit. Looking over the railing you survey the huge yard, trees on either side, and open in the middle so you can see the creek. He can hear the waterfall, birds, and locust. Crickets chirp. Two swings hang high in the branches of an old mulberry tree. Flower pots crowd one corner of the deck, bright colors bursting from each.
Wooden table-and-benches are placed side by side in the shade of the cabin.
Oh, if heaven were on earth, this would be it.
(This description is based on a real place, a family get away, paid for by my great grandmother. It contains a cabin as described, and 400 acres of woodland, the creek, and hills. It is really a wonderful place and I would like to publicly thank my great grandmother for letting us all use it.)
Hey, I’m not all that great a singer but I thought it might be fun to put some audio files on here. Amazing grace is a pretty song, better if I don’t slaughter it with my voice of course, but still.
Fireworks, sparks, laughter, bang,
Fireworks, heat, cokes, clang,
Fireworks, whistle, popping,
Fireworks, music, rocking!