Henrietta, The Water Dragon, a Short Story by Daniel O’Connor

 

 

Henrietta, the Water Dragon

Nathalie flew high above the castle and then out across the adjoining fields, scanning the blue sky for an appropriate nesting place for her clutch. Her human companion, Queen Cecelia, would miss her. When duty calls to a dragon mother, its call is clear and demanding. It had been 117 years since her last hatchlings had taken their first, tentative steps into a world that could be so treacherous and so loyal in the same instant. She willed that this clutch would fare better than the one all those years past.

So she flew on for hours until the sun’s rays began to dwindle and she feared she may need to bed in the forest lest it get too dark before she found what she was looking for.
Finally, just when she thought it best to end her journey until tomorrow, she spotted a nesting place high above any source of

danger, on Peak Alegsia in the deep reaches of the Dianidia Mountain Range.

On spotting that peak she accelerated, shooting towards the foothills. So fast did she fly, she missed as one of the seven of her clutch slipped from her talons and tumbled toward the earth in Nathalie’s wake. Hundreds of feet did that egg fall and lucky it was that dragon’s eggs are stonelike in their solidity. For when the egg, about the size of a human head, plunked deep into the pond in the foothills, the shell held.

There Henrietta sat, upside down, stuck in the mud of a pond, as the autumn turned to winter. The cold ate at her, urging her to surrender her quest in favor of a permanent slumber. Yet she found the strength to endure, aided by the unfrozen pond and an unusually mild winter.

Spring finally arrived and the egg was warmed through the months until the peak of the season.

One fine spring day, as the birds whistled and the sky reflected itself upon the rippling pond’s surface, Henrietta decided it was due time that she broke free.

It began as a tapping that no one heard through the mud and water. A close observer would see a disturbance as a bit more water lapped the edge of the trees than was usual.

It grew to a rustle beneath the water and then, as the surface of the water was broken, a dragon’s head burst through. Henrietta took her first gasping breath of worldly air, clean and pure.

Sinking back in the water, she flailed about, upsetting the lilies which colorfully surrounded her in their greens, their blues and purples too.

Soon, her wings cleansed by the cool water, she learned she could hold herself at the surface of the water, floating easily.

Before venturing to land for the first time, she pulled her wings in, curled her tail and let herself drift lazily through the water and lilies.

She felt at home in the water. She found she could even breath well under the surface.

She had no mother and she had none of her kin. But she had her water and she had her amazing lilies.

Henrietta, a water dragon, had hatched.

 

 

 

Written by Daniel Thomas O’Connor on May 26, 2011.

Story copyright © 2011 Dan O’Connor.

Illustration © 2006 Nin Nelson.


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