This short story is inspired by the sentence prompt from Tumblr blog unblockingwritersblock. The sentence prompt is in bold within the story. Enjoy!
I never saw it coming. Never even dreamed about something like this happening, to be frank.
It was a cold, winter morning and as I opened the door to retrieve the Sunday newspaper, I saw it. A nice, little woven basket right at my doorstep. I wasn’t expecting any mail nor did I know of anyone who would have the guts to pull pranks on me. Afraid it maybe an abandoned human child like you hear about in the news or read in stories, I carefully peeled back the fleece covers. Boy, was I wrong.
It was only a few months old as far as I could tell. It was sleeping peacefully, with small baby snores every second. First thought that came to my mind was how. How did someone acquire this? How did that someone then leave it at my doorstep without getting caught or noticed? Next question was why. Why on earth is there a baby dragon on my doorstep!? A living, breathing baby dragon? On my freaking doorstep!? On a Sunday morning?
I brought the poor thing inside because one, I must have looked ridiculous just wide-eyed and peering into a woven basket on an early, wintery Sunday morning (that, too, with me in my bright blue pjs and panda slippers) and two, I couldn’t put this dragon and myself in danger from wandering eyes in the neighborhood.
I placed the basket onto the breakfast table and went to get some sustenance, if you would, from the cabinet. What the heck do dragons eat? As I emptied out the pantry for some dragon friendly food, I heard a little chirping noise. I looked over at the table. A green-ish brown little head with grey horns and spikes poked out of the basket. It’s eyes gleamed golden as it peered into mine.
“I see you’re up now. What’ll it be? Cereal or toast?”
Those were the only two to-go foods I had at the moment. I held up a tiny corn flakes box and a bread loaf. The baby dragon did that head tilt most dogs tend to do when asked a question.
“Hrrrgghh,” it growled, looking at the bread loaf in my hand.
“Toast it is.”
As I prepped the toast for my little guest and some cereal for me, my thoughts were blank. However, the one thought of wondering how much longer it was till the dragon burned my house down did cross my mind. I looked over at the critter. It was trying to climb out. It (mind you, I have no clue how to tell dragon genders so young so it’s an “it” for now) struggled to get past the wall of straws that it was too short to clamber up.
Plop. It fell back into the basket as it let out a small whelp.
I went over and took the dragon out of its basket confinement and set it down on the glass surface. It felt light and was only the size of a spring hare. When I plopped it down on the table, it let out a purr. It seemed to like the feeling of cold glass against its scales.
The rest of the morning was pretty quiet, a surprising fact considering there was a primeal beast living atop my breakfast table. After breakfast, it had gone back to sleep. I spent a good ten minutes looking at it’s small, scaly back rising and falling slowly.
“You really are a baby, aren’t you?” I muttered to myself.
I went back to my study to finish off some dragonology work I had brought home from the museum on Friday, and after that, caught up on my favorite web series episodes. It was now well past noon. My stomach let out a small growl. I hadn’t heard a single noise from my guest either. I got up and decided to check on it while prepping some lunch for myself. As I entered the kitchen, the little dragon wasn’t there on the table. A slight panic rose in me. I quickly shifted my eyes to the counter tops when I saw the thing sitting near a coffee mug and staring up at the cabinets. It turned to see me and let out a chirp.
“Huh. You’re a sneaky little ninja, ain’tcha. Gonna name you Shinobi just for that.”
“Hnngghhrrr!” It seemed to like it.
I sifted through the pantry and the fridge, all to no avail. There was nothing appropriate to eat for lunch and that’s when it dawned on me: Sundays are grocery shopping days. Due to the havoc from this morning, I had completely forgotten. I cussed to myself under my breath.
“Seems like you’re going to have to wait for a bit, Shinobi.”
As I left to go get changed, I heard a thud and scampering of feet behind me. It was Shinobi, frantically trying to fly after me.
“Oh, no, buddy. You’re staying here.” I proceeded to pick it up and bring it back to its basket bed.
“HHHRRRRRRRGGG!” It let out a small but effectively shocking roar. I nearly dropped it. I looked down to see it pouting, or at least it looked like it was.
“Shinobi! Did you just use such language at me? I don’t think so.”
I held it up so that our eyes locked. Its eyes were now a deep golden red.
“You wanna come grocery shopping with me?”
It tilted its head a little. The deep colors in its eyes softened. That’s right. I remembered reading about this once a long time ago: dragons can understand any language but cannot speak it in return.
“Absolutely not. Baby dragons aren’t allowed in grocery shops, y’know?”
I placed it onto the cold wooden floors and quickly ran into my study. I hurriedly closed the door before Shinobi could fly in after me. I heard scratches and tiny roars on the other side as I slammed the wood to its face.
“Nope! Not happening.”
At this point, I expected it to burn the door down, but everything went silent. I changed into my museum’s sweatshirt and some snow-proof pants. I pulled on some winter socks and fixed up my hair, all while keeping an ear for Shinobi. It was still quiet outside.
Afraid that it may be up to something dangerous, I slowly approached the door and crouched down to peep through the gap at the bottom.
I could see Shinobi’s tiny dragon paws sitting a few paces away from the door. I straightened myself.
As I turned the door knob and peeked outside, Shinobi looked at me with the biggest puppy eyes I had ever seen. Since when did dragons know about the puppy eye trick!?
This was cute, man. Way too cute. More cute than I, a generally stoic person, could handle. To add to the cuteness, its tiny stomach growled. I did a little frustration dance.
“Oh freakin’ fine. You can come along, I guess.”
It leapt into my open arms and rubbed its muzzle against my chest.
“Okay! Okay! But I need you to stay in my sweatshirt pocket, alright? No one can see you.”
I pointed down at my midriff double ended pockets. It looked a little concerned at first. I saw its eyes were glowing golden now and it looked quite content.
Shinobi stayed quiet throughout the car ride to the market nearby. Not bad for a baby dragon. I wondered if all baby dragons were like Shinobi. It felt so warm against my stomach.
I walked through the vegetable racks, picking up some fresh cucumbers and peppers along with basic salad ingredients. I felt a little wiggle. The dragon in my pocket made a noise. I got a few funny looks. I looked back at the few who dared to make eye contact with me. I stared them down with my infamous death stare.
“Gesundheit. I know, I sneeze weird.”
I quickly then rushed out to the checkout counter.
Lunch was satisfying. As expected, Shinobi ate the salad happily on the cold, glass top of the breakfast table, and I ate mine across from it. I didn’t think dragons were one to like vegetables. Interesting.
Shinobi spent the rest of the day with me, comfily hanging out in my sweatshirt hoodie or on my lap as I took care of more work related things, read some books and watched a movie. Fun fact: dragons love rom-coms.
Dinner came and went, and by the time I realized it was night, Shinobi was fast asleep on my lap. I looked at this little creature of ancient lore and magic. A creature feared for its strength yet loved for its grace and archaic beauty.
“Guess we’re going to be family from now on, huh? My first fur baby and it’s a dragon,” I chuckled to myself.
As I carried Shinobi to bed with me, I couldn’t help but realize how different life was going to be for me from now on. A life with a dragon that arrived on my doorstep on a cold winter morning.