I’ve received some feedback on Julia’s Dragon (this week’s prompt is not unrelated), so I’ve done some revision. My primary aim was to make Julia’s age feel more consistent, but I’ve also done some basic line editing that will hopefully make the writing read a bit better.

“Do we have any sheep?” Julia asked casually the moment she walked in the door.

“Hang up your coat,” Katey called out. “And I’m Pretty sure we’re fresh out,” She’d long since learned to play along with Julia’s little games. She got a few celery sticks out of the refrigerator and began spreading peanut butter on them. “Why do you need a sheep?”

Julia climbed up onto one of the stools by the kitchen counter. “I think I might need more than one. Can you buy them in bunches? Like with eggs?”

“I don’t know,” Katey said, setting the after-school snack in front of her little sister. “I didn’t think you liked sheep, anyway. Last time we had lamb chops, you wouldn’t eat yours.”

“Oh, it’s not for me.”

Katey dipped a piece of celery in the peanut butter and sat down next to Julia. “Who’s it for then?”

“I’m not supposed to tell,” Julia said, munching on her celery. “But I read they like sheep.”

“Can’t help you get your sheep, then. Better start saving your allowance. Sheep are expensive these days.”

“This is important.”

Of course it was, Katey thought. “Look, I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what’s going on.”

Julia looked around the kitchen for eavesdroppers. “This is an emergency, okay?” she said in a deadly serious voice. “She said I could tell someone if it was an emergency, only you can’t tell anybody, either. Promise?”

“Who told you this? Did something happen at school?”

“Promise first.”

Katie had a feeling she might regret this, but she raised a hand. “All right, I promise I won’t tell anyone. Now spill.”

“Come on, I’ll show you.”

A few moments later, Katey was being pulled through the woods behind their house. There was a ravine running through the woods, only Katey had never gone that far in, even when she was Julia’s age. It got too steep, and she’d never liked getting her hands dirty climbing back up.

Julia didn’t seem to share that apprehension. She dragged her sister so far in they could see the dried up river ahead of them, even through the thick trees.

“Ruby told me how to look after it. I’ve been setting it on fire twice a day.”

“Who’s Ruby?” Katey asked. “Wait, you’ve been starting fires? You’re going to burn the forest down.

Julia gave her the patronizing look only a child can manage. “I’m not gonna burn down the forest. It’s way in the back, and we cleared out any leaves and stuff that could catch.”

She pulled Katey sharply to the left. A large oak tree stood over a rocky hollow, its roots forming a curtain.

“But she didn’t tell me what to do if it started hatching. She was supposed to be back by now.” She stepped between the roots easily. Katey had to duck and her hair got caught.

“Julia, I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Katey said, trying to pull her hair free. “Before what hatched?”

“Her egg,” Julia said.

Katey managed to untangle her hair from the roots and got her first good look inside the hollow. It was bigger than it looked from the outside, extending several yards into the hill. The air was hot and humid, despite the crisp autumn weather outside.

Julie stood near the back, pointing at a large, black egg. It sat in a pile of ashes. Several large cracks glowed brightly in the dim light. Even as Katey watched, more cracks appeared.

Pieces of egg shell fell away as a small green head broke free. It was covered in some viscous goop, that seemed to be evaporating quickly into a heady mist.

The baby dragon swung its head back and forth, searching. Its eyes were shut, but it sniffed noisily at the air. It stopped, looking vaguely in their direction, then let out a hungry cry.

“Okay,” Katey said slowly, trying to ignore the manic edge she could hear in her own voice. “We don’t have any sheep. Do you think it will mind cow?”