It is a well-known fact that dragons possess hearts of stone. Cold, cruel, and evil are just a few of the many ways to describe us. We no longer have feelings. No emotions. There is no happy or sad. No joy or anger. We don’t know how to laugh. We have forgotten how to cry. And love is only a distant memory lost to time . . .
There’s no going back. The clock cannot be unwound. Dragons are too far gone. Or so I believed . . .
But all that changed with a wail. A simple cry that turned my world on its head.
I remember flying over the trees, so close my wings skimmed their tips. Then a howl, well, more like a sob. Startled, I had alighted on a tree branch and looked down to a curious sight. A small round object, green in color, was wriggling on the ground, partially hidden under a bush. I would’ve dismissed it as an abnormally large butterfly’s cocoon, but another wail caught me by surprise. Butterflies did not make a sound like that, nor do moths.
Carefully, I jumped to the ground, trying to make the least amount of noise possible. Alas, when you have lived four-thousand years and have grown to a size as large as I, movement is anything but easy. I landed with an earth-shaking tremor and the thing stopped its squalling for a moment. Gingerly, I touched the object with one outstretched talon and it wriggled. Never before had I encountered anything of this nature. Mildly curious, I tapped it again and it rolled.
Surprised, I remember taking a step back. But once turned over, the object revealed a spot of pink on its green cocoon. I lowered my head to get a closer look and it had made a strange warbling sound. I saw two odd eyes and a mouth shaped a way completely foreign to me. In all my days of travel, exploration, and discovery, I had never come across anything quite like it. The object wiggled again, warbled, and then trilled. At the moment only guessing, it seemed to be a young creature, possibly no older than a year or so. But still, I had no clue what to make of it.
I had taken a step away and scanned the surrounding area. I remember seeing a familiar symbol scratched on a nearby tree. It was the mark of Scarn’s hunting grounds. There were great furrows through the ground. And they were fresh. All at once, a few things clicked. The creature was a young one, and its caretakers must’ve been killed by Scarn. Oblivious of the little details, he had missed the camouflaged green object hiding under the bush.
Again, the little thing had warbled at me, then burst into tears. For some unknown reason, I remember picking the green cocoon-like object up, cradling it in my claws, then lifted off towards my cave high in the mountains. But I’m sure that, the instant I touched the creature, it ceased its tantrum and went silent in calm wonder.
Even to this day, I do not know what possessed me to take it. Perhaps it was curiosity, or maybe surprise. Boredom, or possibly even caution. But I think the most likely reason was the need to change.
And change it did. From that point on, my life was never the same . . .
When I had first reached the cave, I set the little thing down to roam, to explore. But it didn’t move. It wiggled, sure, but never actually got anywhere. Was it hurt? Sick? Or was it just immobile? That was when I realized that the green skin was not even a part of the creature. I remember my shock as the cocoon began to unravel in my claws and the little thing started to roll away. While mortified that it was falling apart in my hands, the thing was all the while warbling and, what I can guess, laughing, as it rolled away. It is amusing to tell now, but at the moment, it was horrifying.
After the whole scarring incident (on my part—the thing found it hilarious), it began to make sounds and signs to me. Although I have never had any dragonets of my own, I have learned enough about young ones to guess it was hungry. With a sigh, I remember tramping over to the alcove where food was stored and returning with various items. I presented each to the thing, but it turned them all down with a haughty look or by shoving them away. I had returned with a new assortment of food—plants, fruit, and even meat—and again each was a definite no. Finally, on the third run, one of the fruits had caught its eye. A small mango, bright yellow and orange.
Fascinated, it had reached for it with little arms, clawless claws grabbing at it. As I watched, the creature rolled the fruit around the floor, giggling. “Mango,” I had said in the dragon-tongue. “Momo,” it replied with a huge grin. Startled, I said it again and the creature responded the same. Though we were drastically different, I a dragon and it who knows what, we could understand each other perfectly. The language of life crosses all boundaries.
And so I had cut the mango into smaller pieces with my claw in hopes of allowing the creature to eat it. That little mouth was most useless. All the while it had repeated, “momo, momo, momo.” When finally the creature had settled down to the mango, I got a moment of silence. “Mo,” I remember saying suddenly and it looked up. I could not keep calling it ‘creature’ and what it was was still unknown to me. So a name. I had given it a name. Mo, short for the fruit it so loved. A small name for a small thing. It fit her perfectly.
From that point on, life had been anything but easy. Little Mo was a demolition squad in and of herself. I’m pretty sure I was chasing her around the cave more than half the time. Nothing was ever Mo-proof and she always found a way to get where she didn’t belong. She was adventurous, sneaky, and daring. Smart, too. I have taught her everything I know . . .
The first smile in thousands of years started with Mo and the mango. Ever since then, it has become a normal occurrence, growing more and more in number as time went on.
But laughing took a bit longer. I remember it clearly, every detail set in stone, I had returned from hunting and little Mo seemed to have been waiting for me. As soon as my claws touched the pebbled ground, she came barreling out of the back cave to greet me, something in her arms. Alas, on the two legs of hers, she tripped over herself and gravity took over. It was honestly quite amusing. I still do not know why she prefers walking on the two rather than all for like other creatures, but she is unlike other creatures.
As Mo fell to the ground, the object in her hands flew up, almost seeming to defy the laws of nature. It had been a bowl of paint, freshly made from the looks of her hands. How she had managed it, I later found out. But at the moment, everything seemed to slow. Comically, the paint splattered all over Mo (and the cave I would have to clean up), the bowl landing on her head. Things seemed to stop. I braced myself for a squall or scream, but none came.
Covered with blue, bowl over her eyes, little Mo started to giggle. Relieved another tantrum wasn’t on it’s way, I smiled. But, as I have recently researched, laughing is contagious. As Mo burst into peals of laughter, I felt a chuckle well up inside of me. It first came out as an odd snort, but as it was my first ever, don’t hold it against me. Together Mo and I had collapsed on the floor laughing, so hard I found tears were rolling down my face. I remember that moment as clear as day. The first laugh. The first dragon’s laugh.
And now things have changed. Sixteen years later, the dragons of this world have made a comeback. Not only in numbers, but spirit, too. We are not too far gone. Mo has grown up also, and is the best friend an old dragon could ask for. Getting well on in years, I know my days are numbered. But before I go, I had to do one last thing—this. Now the world can know. Know how we have changed. Know why we have changed.
Still, the clock cannot be unwound, but with each passing hour it brings new life into the old.
“Always find a reason to laugh. It may not add years to your life, but will surely add life to your years.” -Unknown
Live. Laugh. Love.