My dragon slammed down her mighty paw, pinning my hand.
“Ouch,” I snapped.
“Tell me a story,” my dragon said.
“No,” I said, yanking. But it was to no avail. My dragon was too strong.
“I want a story.”
“I don’t know any good stories anymore.”
“Yes, you do,” my dragon said. “Like me. I’m a story.”
“And you’re a stupid story,” Tar Beast sneered, sending sticky black muck forward. It oozed along the floor, closer and closer. “All of Hope’s stories are dumb and boring.”
My dragon turned her head and bellowed a ball of flames. The impact sent Tar Beast alight, all the tar crackling as it turned to vapour. Another moment, then Tar Beast was gone.
“Now,” said my dragon, resting her head carefully beside her massive paw, “tell me a story.”
“I don’t believe in magic anymore,” I said. “Or fairy godmothers, or knights in shining armour, or any of that silly stuff.”
She raised a brow and I waited for her to say, “But you still believe in me,” but she didn’t. Instead, she said, “Tell me what you believe, then.”
“The world’s a mess,” I said. “It is full of pain and horrible things. Go on the internet, go on any news site, all you’ll read about are terrible events. People with no money for food or electricity. Another township fire that left people in utter devastation. Another man raped a baby. Another politician is corrupt, doesn’t care. It isn’t even just in the news, or off somewhere else that people are poor. There is a boy in my class whose mother just died of cancer. She was only forty-five years old.”
“Ever think of not reading the news? Giving yourself a break?”
I shook my head. “You think hiding from it all makes it go away? People are still torturing animals, forcing them into dogfights, whether I read about it or not. Because that is life. Endless pain. That’s all it is. So why do we keep going? It is such a joke. You know what they say: ‘Nobody gets out of this life alive.’ So why even try?”
“I like being,” my dragon said.
And while dragons can’t smile, I swear she did. A whimsical, almost wishful smile, as if she wasn’t pinning my hand down, as if droplets of blood were not hardening into a scab. As if there was nothing weird about her or me or Tar Beast hiding away unseen.
“Some day,” she said, “you are going to let me go. And when that day comes, I’ll cease to exist except in your memories and tales.”
“You see, everything is pointless.”
“It’s impolite to not let me finish.”
“Apology accepted.” She fluttered her wings – just a fluff, my room was too small for her to fully expand them without knocking things down – then re-tucked them neatly at each side. “What I was trying to say, is that I am glad to be, even if it is not forever. Even if I have to witness pain. There is still something to existence.”
“You are ending tonight,” I said.
The moment the words left, I believed them to be true. I was that certain Tar Beast would come. That this time Tar Beast inside me would win.
I realised I couldn’t fight it anymore. I’d made up a whole dragon to fight my inner beast. But I’d become too tired. Even cutting myself wasn’t enough anymore. I needed rest. Life was too exhausting; I was done.
Tell us: What do you think of the dragon’s advice to stop watching the news?