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Gifts for Dragons
A Short Story by S. E. Simonds

Dottie was her name, for she was the smallest girl anyone had ever seen. But she was also the bravest. She made her way across the rocky, sharp-tipped mountains to the cave at the top and peered into the foggy, dark entrance.

    “Hello?” she called. “Is anybody here?”

    Nobody responded. But she entered the cave anyway. She put her right hand to a rough cave wall and felt her way through the fog, through tunnels, deeper into the cave.

    She turned another corner. Suddenly, a huge roar embraced the tunnels with such strength it made the rocks rattle. Dottie trembled, suddenly feeling faint-hearted. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.

    Then the fog began to clear. She stared across a crowded room of jewels and bars of gold rising from the floor like stalagmites at the scaley olive green beast opposite her.

    “What are you doing here?!” roared the dragon. “Invader! Stealing my treasure! Get out!”

    Dottie exhaled and inhaled a few times before she could speak. “I’m not trying to steal your treasure,” she said shakily. “I came here to see you.”

    The dragon stopped, taken aback. Then he hissed, “Really?! Someone as small as you? Don’t you realise I could crush you with my tree-thick tail? Don’t you realise I could swallow you whole?”

    “I know,” Dottie stammered. “I thought about those things before I came here.”

    “You did? And you still came? You strange girl. How old are you?”

    “Nine,” Dottie replied. “And I don’t believe you would really hurt me. I think you’re a nice dragon deep down.”

    “Wha—” the dragon spluttered. “No I’m not!”

    “But even if you're not, you could become one. And I came to see you because I heard it was your birthday,” continued Dottie, her voice high with nerves. “I made up a poem for you.”

    “You—” he started, but no more words came out.

    “Do you want to hear it?” asked Dottie.

    “U-Uhh . . .” he stammered.

    “Here it is,” she said.

“Happy birthday, dear dragon,

Happy birthday to you.

Today is the day that you hatched from your egg

A hundred and something years ago.

So, on this day, a dragon was born

And my heart is all aglow.

Happy birthday, dear dragon,

Happy birthday to you.

God bless you on your birthday, dear dragon.”

    The dragon blinked.

    “You wrote that poem for me?”

    “Yes,” said the girl. “I figured you don’t get told ‘happy birthday’ very often, so I wanted to do it extra special. Do you like it?”

    Then the dragon turned his head away and rubbed his eyes with his fists. Dottie could see that tears were raining from his eyes.

    He looked at her and smiled beautifully. “You’re so sweet,” he said. “Thank you. This is the best birthday I’ve ever had.”

    The dragon carried the girl home on his back, storing the words of her poem in his heart.

    He never forgot Dottie. How could he—for they became the best of friends. . . .

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