Prompt: "I will be a real [gnome]," [she] said, hoping no one remembered [her] vehement protestations to the contrary for, well, [her whole life.]
Special Challenge: Include a flying, steam-powered contraption
“What, are you an otter now?” Tye teased. “You look pretty real to me with those scales, leathery wings, smoking nostrils...”
“You know what I mean!” Jireh humphed. He rolled onto his side and twisted his neck around until he was eye-to-eye with Tye. “I want to do what dragons are supposed to do!”
“And what’s that?”
“I...I don’t know.”
Jireh set his head on the ledge again and puffed a bit of smoke into the passing breeze.
This restlessness started on one bright morning when a ruby streak zipped past the window. Of course Jireh had poked his head out of the second storey window to catch another glimpse. The creature circled back until it hovered nearby. It was a female dragon not much bigger than himself!
“Are you a prisoner?” she asked.
“No, I’m a dragon.”
“What are you doing with humans?”
“I live here.”
Jireh pulled his head in so she could land on the sill. The sun glinted off her wings as they folded into place behind her back. She sniffed the air, the desk, and finally Jireh himself.
“Well, you *smell* like a dragon. And this place reeks of human,” she concluded with a delicate wrinkling of her snout.
“It’s called a university. Lots of humans live here.”
“What do they do?” she asked curiously.
“They sit at tables and type on machines all day.”
“*All* day? What a waste of time,” she snorted. “At least it keeps them from dragon hunting.”
“Why would they be dragon hunting?”
“Why, it’s what humans *do*!”
“Not here. I grew up here.”
“So you’re a pet.” The way she pronounced “pet” made it sound like it was some awful, fatal disease.
“Tye’s my friend...”
“Humans aren’t friends,” she snapped. “They always have to own things! How old are you?”
He puffed up proudly, “Two years.”
“Two years? I’m three months! You’re a stunted, brainwashed, human’s pet. You’re not free!” And with that, the dazzling female stretched her wings and flew away.
Jireh snapped to the present as Tye scratched him under the chin.
“What’s been eating you, boy? Why the moping?”
Jireh closed his eyes, savouring the tingling sensation. Oh how he wanted to stay and keep things the way they were! It was impossible. Haltingly, fearfully, he ventured to convey his yearnings.
“I want to leave and find out what it means to be a dragon.” Jireh winced, waiting for an angry reply, but it didn’t come. When he peeked at Tye, he only saw a small, sad smile.
“Then go. I’ll miss you.”
For the first time since the dragon’s visit, Jireh felt free.