I walked into my office and came to an abrupt stop. I sniffed the air. What was that odor? Pew! It smelled as if someone had spent the last hour lighting matches; an acrid scent of sulfur hung heavy in the air.
I looked around, but couldn’t locate the source of the stench. I wrinkled my nose in disgust. It was too cold to open the window and air out the office. I would just have to live with it. I sat down at my computer and got to work, typing a rough draft of a story from some notes I had made earlier.
I was absorbed in my story when I slowly became aware of another presence in the room. I glance up, and saw my cleric standing there, watching me. She had a peculiar look on her face.
“What’s up?” I inquired.
She looked around the top ledge of my bookshelf, and started to reply. I cut her off. “I mean,” I quickly clarified, “what’s up with you? What do you want? Why are you here?”
“Oh. Oh, nothing. I just thought I would…what is the phrase you use? I thought I would just hang out here for a while.”
My eyes narrowed suspiciously. I had never known my cleric to favor modern idioms. “Okay,” I replied cautiously. “But I am a bit busy right now.”
“Okay. I will just sit here and be quiet.” Less than five seconds later, “What are you working on?”
“A story,” I snapped, as my mind lost the sentence I had been about to type.
“A story about what?”
“A story about a dragon.” Did I detect a scowl on my cleric’s face?
I sighed and tried to marshal my thoughts once more. I returned to my typing, and when I looked up a few minutes later, my cleric was gone. In her place was the half-dwarf hero of the first two books in my series.
“Long time, no see,” I greeted him. Was it my imagination, or was he wearing a scowl identical to the one I had just seen on my cleric’s face?
“Why are you writing about a dragon?”
“How did you know I was writing about a dragon? Have you been talking to the cleric?”
He ignored my question and glowered. “Well?”
“Well, I’m writing about a dragon because he…”
“He?” The word sounded more like an accusation than a question. “Our dragon is female.”
I began to smell the odor of sulfur again.
“What’s going on here? Why do you care what I am writing about?”
In response, he shapeshifted into a small dragon, a small female dragon, about the size of a cocker spaniel.
I chuckled. She grew. Labrador Retriever size, then Great Dane size, then English Mastiff size. I stopped chuckling about the time she swelled to the size of a full-grown lion.
“Okay! Stop! What’s your problem?”
“Problem?” She assumed an air of innocence, daintily inspecting her claws.
“Yes, problem. You are definitely upset about something.”
Her reptilian eyes narrowed, and she snorted a puff of acrid smoke. “Why would you think I am upset?”
I quirked an eyebrow and folded my arms over my chest. “Talk,” I demanded.
“I have nothing to say. If you want conversation, why do you not talk to your new dragon?” She sneered.
“Is that what this is all about? You’re upset because I’m writing a new story about a dragon?”
“No,” she responded with a deep growl. “I am not upset because you are writing a new story about a dragon. I am upset because you are writing a story about a new dragon.”
The lightbulb went on in my brain. How could I have missed this?
“I needed a different type of dragon for this story,” I attempted to placate her.
“Why? What is wrong with me?”
I looked at her with great affection. “There is nothing wrong with you,” I replied gently. “You are a beautiful dragon. You are noble and curious and faithful and helpful and adventurous and extremely playful. You are powerful, gentle, wise and wonderful. And you have a conscience. You are the dragon I needed to help my heroes in book two of the series. They never could have accomplished all they did without you. And the book would have been ever so dull if you were not part of it.”
She looked slightly appeased. Still, her voice held a note of petulance as she asked, “Then why do I sit within the words of that book instead of playing in your new story?”
“Because you are not right for the part, my friend. You are too noble, too experienced, too good, too playful. My new dragon does not have your knowledge, your compassion, your sense of fair-play, or your humor.”
She looked at me for a long time. It was the kind of intense stare that delves deep into one’s soul. Finally, she acquiesced. “Will I ever get to meet this humorless dragon?”
I nodded. “Someday. Right now, I think you would be a good influence on him, which would be bad for my story…his story.”
Slowly, the corners of her reptilian mouth stretched into a toothy dragon smile. Gradually, she shrank back to spaniel size. “I think I’ll go find the Gypsy,” she decided. “I found a new recipe.” She winked at me, and skipped out of the room, giggling.
I sat there, shaking my head. Who knew a dragon could be jealous?
I returned to my story, and a new dragon started forming on the computer screen. He was much larger and darker and more sinister than my previous dragon, and not nearly as nice. Slowly, the corners of his reptilian mouth stretched into a toothy dragon grimace. He would never giggle. He was perfect.
If you like to see if the two dragons ever get together, feel free to stop by. I’ll leave the porch light on for you.