The Dark Dragon
By Jamie Burns
I had never really noticed Rachel before, but over the summer she had started really making an effort. It also helped her social status that her two best friends were the beauties of the village. Not that it did much for their personalities. I can vaguely remember Rachel trying to talk to me once before when we were still in child's lessons. Back then she always had dirt on her face and second hand cloths, so obviously it was a short conversation. After all my family had a good reputation and I couldn’t risk talking to just anyone that drooled over me.
Over the summer it seemed Rachel had finally figured out the way the game was played. She had cleaned herself up and stopped bringing her impoverished family in to polite civilized conversation. She was becoming increasingly more lady like and reminded me of my own mother. Something to be gazed at but scarcely forced to listen to.
The summer was winding down and there was a group of us in the town square, enjoying what was left of the warm nights and summer harvests. Rachel and I had become somewhat of an unofficial item. Which meant I spent my father’s coin buying her fruit she wouldn't be able to afford otherwise and she let me get a bit farther than I had with the other girls.
Rachel fed me slices of the peaches I had brought in the market. I had taken her to a spot my father told me about earlier that year. “Girls love the place.” He had said. It was nice, the perfect spot to watch a sunset. It was a short hike up hill with a nice rock formation that made a natural bench. It overlooked the valley to our left and the cliffed mountains to our right. As the sun made it’s decent I took the peach from Rachel and leaned in for a kiss. But the moment before my lips touched hers the ground beneath us started to rumble. It was a small tremor but it was enough to pull Rachel’s attention away from me.
“What was that?” She asked.
“I’m sure it was nothing.” I said as I tried to get her to face me again.
“I don’t know. It didn’t feel like……”
The ground trembled again, stronger this time. Ok maybe it wasn't nothing. I too turned my attention to the view. It was easy to see that below in the valley people had started to more around me franticly and some had gathered in the square.
“Maybe we should go back.” Rachel suggested in a way that told me my chances for a late summer make out tonight had dropped to zero.
“Fine.” I said standing up. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw movement along the cliff side trail. I squinted the make out the figure in the growing mountain shadow. It looked like the figure of a man, no a boy. He was definitely smaller than me.
“Isaac?” I heard Rachel say. She too was squinting at the figure on the mountainside.
“Do you know him?” I asked.
Rachel squinted ever harder. “I think that’s my brother.”
“What would your brother be doing out here?”
“Nothing he’s allowed to, that’s for sure. I should probably go get him.”
I guess my gallant side took over because I looked at her dress, then the sharp rocks between where we were and the path he was on and before I knew it I had said. “No, I’ll do it. You head to the square.”
As a balanced my way across the rocks to reach the path toward the cliff I reminded myself of how many brownie points this was getting me from Rachel. I would just bring her back to the spot tomorrow and hope for no little brother interruptions. I reached the path we call the Path of Darkness and realized I hadn't been on it for years. I remembered being 11 or so and we all challenged each other to walk the path. I guess it was still a right of passage. I headed up the path trying to catch up to Rachel’s brother. I expected to find him somewhere on the path, that’s what usually happened, kids get a certain distance and then they chicken out. In fact, by the looks of it I was now passed the point I myself had previously made it too.
As much as I didn’t want to admit it, once I made it to the cave opening that same 11 year old fear had returned. Everyone in the village knew that this was the cave of a dragon. People had been telling the story to their kids for generations. I looked around to see if the boy was maybe sitting near by. There was no one. Had he really gone in? Did I really have to go in after him?
It was dark and I hadn't brought anything to light the way so I found myself stumbling more than upright walking. I thought I heard a movement so I abruptly stopped. My head told me to call out. I thought she said his name was Isaac? But something deeper in me said to keep quiet. That was when the next tremor coursed through the mountain. I turned to run back toward the cave opening but it was dark and I’m assuming I tripped and hit my head because that was the last thing I could remember.
Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED