Note: To read The Wishing Map from the beginning, click here.
The Wishing Map
Chapter Five: Rhema (Continued)
Previously: Gina realized the creature in the egg she’d sat on wasn’t just trying to get out, it was trying to get to her!
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Zack—got to find Zack! Gina reminded herself.
All her life she’d wanted a pet, but could never have one because of her stupid allergies! Every time she touched a kitten or a puppy her eyes turned to water balloons. To be fair, she’d been told she could have a small bird or “a very docile reptile,” but what was the point of having a pet you couldn’t pet? But here was an adorable creature—with no fur! And it was practically begging her to…
“No! Focus, Gina! You have to find Zack!”
Ignoring her own orders, she began ripping away the thick leathery shell. In a few minutes, she was able to stick her whole hand inside. She cautiously stroked the creature between two nubs where she guessed horns would eventually form. The dragonlet’s gold flecked skin was neither rough like an alligator’s nor slick like a snake’s; its baby scales felt like the down on a duckling. As she scratched between its drooping ears, it closed its eyes in ecstasy. “This is the first time anyone’s ever touched you, isn’t it?”
The creature answered with a strangely musical purr.
“You can sing!” Gina labored even harder. With creature and human working together, the top of the shell was dismantled in a quarter of an hour. At some point the dragon began trying to climb out through the opening, but its newborn clumsiness, combined with the height of the hole, made this impossible. “Wait, wait, wait! I have an idea.” Gina tipped the egg over, but it was heavier than she’d expected and listed to the right, causing the little dragon to scutter around inside. It rolled against the stone temple, taking out another three arches.
Groans of dismay rose from the underbrush, along with the now familiar voice of Jenblevó: “You will eat the death I deliver!”
Gina unconsciously sat on a remaining section of column and watched as the creature stepped out onto the forest floor. As its elbows came into view, she was half delighted/half alarmed to see two delicate wings. They were folded back like the wings on the little jewelflies that populated the Dore’s backyard pond each summer. The creature struggled to get its lanky hind legs free. It had gawkishly large feet. “Like a puppy!” Gina exclaimed. She watched, mesmerized, as it pulled its lacey tail out of the egg. It was finally free.
A stream of “Ahs!” broke out from the undergrowth.
Seeing the creature en toto was jarring. It was the size of a full grown Irish setter and had only just been born! It turned its face toward Gina, its big emerald eyes filled with devotion. Its golden-brown muzzle was lined with teeth, not the killing blades of a shark but the soft-pointed canines of a puppy. With its lace-trimmed tail and swan-curve neck, it was astonishingly beautiful. No, not beautiful—artistic! Only this masterpiece was alive.
It gave a plaintive cry, half rumble, half mew, and began to shake. Gina had been so overwhelmed with everything that was happening she’d failed to notice the chill until now; it might be summer in Middleton, but it was more like late winter or early spring here. She was glad she’d worn her big terrycloth robe.
The little dragon let out a rumbly bleat. It was struggling to get to her, but was having difficulty moving around the remains of the toppled egg. Breaking from her stupor, she reached out and pushed the egg away. The creature, now shaking violently, dragged itself forward. Its skin had lost its golden glow, and was starting to blue.
Gina reached out and clasped its forelegs. Sliding her back against a parchment-barked lespin tree, she pulled the dragon onto her lap and covered it with her robe. She stroked its soft baby-scaled neck. It relaxed a bit, and then, to her astonishment, licked her; its tongue was wet and, against all expectations, warm.
Gina began to unconsciously “la-la.” Once she realized what she was doing, it was too late to change—the melody was lodged in her brain. It was the Oh-So-Soft Toilet Paper song, the one that featured a chorus of adults pretending to be children, singing, “They’re like heaven for your bottom, so make sure your grocer’s got ‘em!” But something absurd and wonderful had happened: somewhere along the line while she’d been la-la-ing the Oh-So-Soft song…
The little dragon had begun to copy her, so faintly that she hadn’t even noticed at first. She did now. Its “singing” was impossibly sweet, the way a saxophone might sound if it were a living thing. And the melody, as transposed by the little dragon, was impossibly beautiful!
An audible mix of fear and awe arose from the undergrowth. One elderly male pixie captured what the others were thinking:
“Oh, Uol! Now she’s done it!”
Gina’s eyes slowly closed as the dragon’s song—for it had indeed become the dragon’s song—lulled them both to sleep. She’d lost all sense of time: it had been a late afternoon in August when she’d left Middleton, but here it was the middle of the night in something like March. She shouldn’t have been tired, but after falling into another world, she was suffering from the mother of all jetlags. “Have to find brother…first thing in…morning.” What remained of her consciousness…
blew away with the night breeze.
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Thoughts: Have you ever rearranged your life to care for a pet? Good choice. The love of animals is a gift from God.
To read The Wishing Map 21, click here!