Julia’s Dragon (Older Edition)

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Erin burst into giggle as Katey grabbed her. Apparently the only thing she found funnier than running around the living room was when her mother invariably picked her up.

Katie’s phone rang, and she dropped the giggling child onto the sofa.

“It’s Auntie Jewels,” she told Erin before answering. “Hey, Julia-”

“Hi, Auntie Jewels!” Erin shouted.

“Hey, Katey. Um… you busy?”

“What’s wrong?”

“What? No, nothing’s wrong. I… I just need your help with something.”

“Come on, spill.” Katey started to pace.

“It’s… I wasn’t supposed to have to do this part.”

“This part of what, Julia? What’s going on?”

A heavy silence filled the air. Even Erin became quiet.

“Are you still there?”

“Yeah, I just… It’s easier to show you. Can you come out to Cook’s Ravine? Like now?”

“Now? I can’t. Jeremy’s out of town, and I need to get Erin’s dinner ready.”

Julia swore. “Food. I didn’t even… Do you have any raw meat? Like hamburger patties or something? I’ll pay you back.”

“I’m sorry, Julia, I can’t-”

Please.” There was desperation in her voice. “You can bring Erin with you. I can’t do this on my own.”

Katey pulled over to the side of the road near where Julia was waiting. Why here, she didn’t know. The road ran alongside the woods for miles, and there was nothing noticeable about this particular spot.

“Oh good,” Julia said, running over. “You made it.”

“You’d better tell me what’s going on, Julia.” Katie thrust a plastic bag at her sister. “And why you needed raw meat, of all things.”

The anxiety seemed to melt away from Julia and she smiled. “Trust me. It’ll be simpler if you just see it for yourself. It’s not far.”

“You’re pushing it, Julia.” But Julia was already helping her niece out of the car seat. Erin gave her a sloppy kiss and hugged her neck.

“Heya, squirt. Wanna see something really neat?”

“Yeah!” Erin said, delighted. “Can I, Mommy?”

“Fine, let’s get this over with.”

Julia led them down into the woods. The hill became steeper as the drew near the ravine that cut through the middle of the forest. Katey found herself grabbing branches more and more in order to keep her footing. Julia, however, walked as casually as she would down a sidewalk. Her balance didn’t even seemed threatened by Erin’s constant twisting as she stared at the various wonders a forest had to offer.

“It’s right in here,” Julia said, stopping in front a large rock outcropping. With her free hand, Julia pushed away some of the vines that covered it, revealing a hollow that lead into the hill. With a mischievous smile, she ducked inside.

Katey might have turned around and left, just to deny Julia the pleasure of surprising her, if Julia wasn’t carrying her daughter. Instead, she followed them into the cave.

It was warm inside, despite the crisp autumn weather. In the back of the cave Julia and Erin knelt beside a fire pit. In the middle of the ashes and glowing embers was a large, black rock. There were cracks running along it, that reflected the orange light of the embers, making it look like they were glowing themselves.

With a sharp crackling noise, another crack suddenly appeared on the stone. A moment later, another appeared, then another.

“Looks like we made it just in time,” Julia said.

“Will you please tell me what’s going on now?” Katey asked. She glanced momentarily at her sister, but found she couldn’t keep her eyes off of the strange rock.

“Mommy!” Erin said, also staring at it in fascination. “Auntie Jewels said it’s a dragon egg!”

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Julia’s Dragon (Revised)

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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?”

Prompt: A Girl Finds a Dragon Egg

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Today’s prompt is a classic. A girl finds a dragon egg.

Good luck and good writing!