I forgot to send in a prompt to More Odds than Ends this week. But, one of the nice things is that there are always spare prompts. The one I picked was: Dragons are real, and there’s now one curled up at your front door like a stray cat demanding a home.
I give you the following: Stray Dragons
Sinead pulled into the driveway with a sigh of relief. It had been a hell of a rush hour and she was very happy to be home. Thinking about sitting on the couch devouring a delivered pizza while binge-watching her favorite TV show was almost intoxicating. Her husband was out of town until tomorrow and the kids were visiting their grandparents so she had the house to herself for this one night.
She climbed out of the car, grabbed her bag, slammed the door and headed for the front porch. Putting the key in the front door she caught a small movement out of the corner of her eye. She turned the key and then shifted to focus on the source of the movement. What the hell?
A young dragon was curled up on the dirty towels that the kids had dropped on the porch a couple of days ago. Sinead slowly put down her bag and moved toward the bedraggled creature. Scales that should have been a shiny green-blue were dull and mud-splattered and the crest on the top of its head was drooping and had leaves caught in it. She felt a stab of pity. It was so young and obviously lost and homeless. What happened to its clan? This little guy’s been alone for a while. That’s really unusual. Dragons usually take good care of each other.
“Hey, little one. Whatcha doing?” she cooed at it.
The small dragon shifted a bit away from Sinead but didn’t move otherwise. “Oh, you poor baby. You look filthy, and you must be exhausted.” She kept her voice low and soothing while moving toward the dragon. Slowly she reached out a hand, hoping the little one didn’t flame her. No flames appeared as she moved her hand to scratch behind the drooping crest. A small, almost purring sound came from the young dragon and the eyes closed halfway as he (she?) reveled in the scratching.
“Kieran’s gonna kill me, but you’re coming inside until we figure out what to do with you.” She smiled down at it making sure to keep her voice soft and soothing.
Sinead stood up slowly and moved back toward the door. She opened the door and tossed her bag inside. Turning back to get the dragon, she jumped when she found it standing right behind her. Even though it was a young dragon, when standing its head came to her elbow.
“Oh! No, no. It’s OK. You’re fine,” she quickly returned to the soothing tone when the dragon flinched at her exclamation.
Sinead moved into the doorway and held the door open. With her other hand she made a “come-in” gesture to the dragon and reached to scratch behind the crest again. The dragon hesitantly moved into the front entryway.
“Go on. It’s OK,” Sinead encouraged it.
The dragon moved cautiously into the living room area. Its head swaying back and forth as it took in everything around it. Sinead moved around the creature and grabbed several of the big pillows she kept for those times when she felt like sitting on the floor.
“You can curl up here. But first, let’s see about getting you cleaned up.” All thoughts of collapsing on the sofa with a pizza had been driven out of her head with the need to take care of the tired, filthy little dragon who had washed up on her front porch.
She went down the hallway toward the bathroom. “Come on. Come with me,” she said encouragingly, gesturing to the dragon.
“Let’s get you cleaned up and fed. Then you’ll feel better. I’m guessing a steak will work for dinner tonight? I’ll call the vet in the morning and figure out what I need to pick up for you tomorrow. Oh, and I guess I better call Kieran. You’ll like him. He’s a good guy.” She kept up a soothing stream of comments while coaxing the dragon toward the bathroom and the bathtub.
The dragon’s head tilted quizzically as it looked at her. She continued down the hall toward the bathroom and the dragon followed curiously.
“Here you go. I’m really glad I talked Kieran into installing that jacuzzi tub in here last summer. You should just about fit. Let me get the water warm and then you can just climb in.” She ran the water and started filling the big tub. The dragon’s eyes lit up and it butted its head into her arm almost knocking her over. Once the tub was about half full, she estimated that was enough as the dragon was large enough to displace about half the water. She stopped the water and stepped back to let the dragon climb into the tub. Its eyes became mere slits as it sank into the warm water. It started making the purring sound again.
“OK. You soak and I’m going to go find something to scrub your scales with. I don’t think that caked on mud is going to come off with just water.”
Sinead left the dragon soaking and went back to the kitchen to hunt for something that could be used to clean a dragon. She grabbed a scrub brush and her phone. I really do need to call Kieran before I forget, and he gets a huge surprise when he comes home tomorrow. The kids are going to freak out too.
She returned to the bathroom to find the dragon had rolled over to soak its back. The exposed belly was crisscrossed with scars, some of which looked older while a couple looked more recent.
“Oh, you poor baby! What happened? How did you get those scars? We’re definitely visiting the vet tomorrow.” Sinead grabbed a washcloth and started gently wiping the dirt off the belly scales. The young dragon flinched once when she went across one of the newer scars, but otherwise seemed to enjoy the attention.
“Come on, now. Roll back over so I can get your back,” Sinead said as she put a little pressure on the dragon’s shoulder to persuade it to roll back onto its belly. One golden eye cracked open and Sinead made a rolling gesture with her hands.
She held up the brush. “I need to get the mud off of your scales and then we have to rinse you off.”
Whether it was her hand gesture or whether the dragon actually understood her, Sinead was not sure. She’d never lived with a dragon before. But it rolled over. The water was already cloudy with dirt but there was still a good deal of mud on the dragon’s back.
As she brushed at the caked-on mud, Sinead kept up a steady flow of talk.
“Look at you. Once we get the dirt off you’ll be a beautiful emerald green. Wow. Do you have a name? What’s a good dragon name anyway? We’ll have to come up with something that fits you. How big are you going to get? That could cause some problems. But don’t worry. We’ll figure it all out. You’re home and you don’t have to worry about anything anymore. OK. I’m done. Let me drain the tub and I’ll turn on the shower so we can clean your wings and you can rinse off. Ready? OK, here’s the shower.”
The dragon gave a slight start when the shower came on, but then lifted its head into the rush of water. He spread his wings as far as possible and keep them under the falling water. Sinead used the flexible shower head to make sure the wings were cleaned and the dragon was completely rinsed off. She grabbed a couple of beach towels and did her best to dry him (her?) off before he stepped out of the tub. She settled on “he” for the dragon. She wasn’t sure why, but it seemed right.
Once he stepped out of the tub, Sinead led the way back to the kitchen and started rummaging in the refrigerator. The dragon followed her more confidently this time, humming his sorta purr. I never knew dragons could purr. He pushed his head under her elbow and scanned the inside of the fridge. Sinead gently pushed him away and closed the door.
“OK, there is a roast here. You can have that. I’ll buy another one tomorrow for us. You and I will go to the vet’s office tomorrow to check you out and I’ll get you some proper dragon food.”
She grabbed a big plastic chip bowl and filled it with water. She put that and the roast on the table in front of the dragon where he could easily reach it. He dove in eagerly, taking a long drink of water before turning to the roast. Sinead smiled and picked up her phone to order that long-awaited pizza for herself.
The pizza arrived about half an hour later and she moved into the living room with the now-sated dragon following. As she settled down on the couch, the dragon curled up on the cushions on the floor and closed his eyes.
Sinead grabbed a slice of pizza and smiled down at her new friend. “Well, little guy. We have to come up with a name, and I guess I should finally call Kieran and let him know that you’re living with us now.”
The dragon opened one eye and looked at her. A small sigh followed and the eye closed again. Sinead picked up her phone again and dialed Kieran’s number.