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The Stone Dragon

She had breathed life into him as only a mother can to her favourite son. And look at him. What an amazingly beautiful creature he had become!

He soared the skies by day, his handsome wings slowly unfolding, gold on blue, like words on the pages of a freshly opened book. Such music! Such – majesty. She would sit and watch him fly, forbidding the smile behind her eyes to ever touch her lips, for fear of bad luck or any envious spells from the neighbours or any passers-by, the ones who couldn’t understand the loving ties that held her to her creation, the others who would envy her her happiness.

If anybody would ever ask, of a mid to late afternoon in such a day when the sky had been as clear as breeze and the blue as empty as the silvery transparency of waters, and when her son’s fully spread wings had shone a shimmering green-gold against its beauty, she would reply that it wasn’t him she thus lovingly watched, but the sturdiness of the stitching on the kite’s main sail. Or she would talk of the little relays she had cleverly embedded on the kite’s spine and cross spar, which allowed for the unequal unfolding of the magnificent wing-like lateral sails.

Neighbours and passers-by alike would marvel at how well she could see such details from so much afar, when all they saw was a gold-painted cloth dragon flying high against the evening sky’s still cloudless blue. And she’d smile and lower her eyes and reply, simply,

Who needs eyes to see, when one has memory and imagination? My hand remembers the stitching, and those relays I imagined them myself one night, before I too stitched them into the two little carved holes in the cherrywood frame…

The neighbour would eventually return home, and the passer-by would carry on on his way, the time of day approaching when the bells of the old church would call out vespers to all faithful, be they attending the hall that evening or still on the fields, the day not yet done. Her eyes would then return to her sky-soaring son: was it fire she could see in his eyes? Was is little soul ablaze with so much flight and empty blue? Was he proud of his prowess? Of his wings? Of the care she had put on his stitching? Of the love she held him in?

As if knowing the time of day, the little dragon would soon after come in for a landing. The woman would rise from the front step where she had been sitting, the peas she had just shelled carefully tied into the skirt of her apron. She’d hurry towards the boy, a little woman in a flurry of little butterfly steps, and pick the folds of his wings one by one: small folds first and big folds last.

Little boys were always so hurried, she’d tell herself every single afternoon; they never think of the consequences of their poorly thought out actions. It’s surely in the nature of little boys, she’d then add also to herself, and she’d allow her a little chuckle to escape her lips. But then, that’s what mothers were there for, isn’t it? Little boys’ mothers. To take proper care of them, show them how things worked.

There is a proper order all things have to be done in, she would tell him lovingly every day he was out mapping the skies with his flight. And that was especially true of wings, she’d add: the littler folds first, and the biggest folds last, like she taught him every day, as it needed to be if they were to be properly tucked away.

What if they ever got damaged? Had he ever thought of that? What would a little boy dragon be, without his wings?

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