I have this beanbag, it's from Ikea. Denim cover and styrofoam filling. Mum bought it for me when I was really little, and I used to pretend it was a rock for me to hide under.

When I was small enough to be completely concealed by the beanbag's majesty, it was a dragon's lair—and I, the dragon. Resting in my cosy cave, nestled amongst my lethargic greed, I was a powerful young beast that none dared disturb.

My wings were magnificent: large white fans of wildly graceful parchment. But for all their beauty, they were, sadly, quite useless. I could not fly, so I stayed hidden under my rock, where it was safe and snug and warm and nobody bothered me or my treasure.

Fast forward about a decade; the young dragon has grown some. Nowhere near ancient, yet very wise for her age, the dragon has physically outgrown the rock she once called her home, her fortress, her solitude. She does visit every now and then, when she needs a solid reminder that there is still much growing to do. She visits her rock when she feels too old, or when she feels stressed, overworked, but most of all she visits when she's simply feeling sad.

The dragon's wingspan has increased significantly, and her hoard has likewise grown. She has flown many times, crashed many times, failed many times. And somehow she always picks herself back up. Her wings ache and smoke billows from her great maw in frustration, but she still gets up. Again. And again and again. Scars abound on her vulnerable flesh where dozens of scales have been torn off, and though they all heal in time, incessant memories of how she earned each wound always drive her home.

Home, to her rock. That old, warm rock where she no longer fits, where she can no longer hide. The rock cannot contain her beastly physique anymore. The dragon is saddened to acknowledge this, for she loved that rock. She loved the way that rock comforted her as a hatchling, the way she could crawl deep into its protective caverns and lie still and sound. What melancholy that rock now gave her. Memories of feelings impossible to replicate.

The dragon sheds a tear and roars a great and terrible roar. An acrid, sulphuric aura envelops all the airspace she occupies. She belches out a monstrous scream accompanied by wicked tongues of glorious flame. Fire licks the rock as the dragon licks her lips, and she lifts an horrific war cry to the sky along with her body itself. Strong, heavy strokes of her leathery wings pound against the pathetic sound barrier as she climbs up, up, up.

Up and away from her old rock, away from her comfort, her home ... her responsibility. Away from her life. From her love. Her everything.

The cold twinge of water vapour registers purely from previous knowledge rather than actual feeling as she bursts through the clouds into the deep night sky. Stars and God knows what else blur and twirl past the dragon's usually clear gaze, her eyes leaking heartbroken liquid.

Dragons do not cry, she scolds herself. I am a dragon, for God's sake! Act like one, fool!

But no matter how far or how fast she flies, no matter where she runs or when she falls, she cannot escape.

Kilometres and hours and ages she flies, over oceans and rivers and islands and mountains. She runs tearing through the wind that tries to hold her back, that tries to tie her, tries to keep her, constrict her.

The wind is no match for this beast. The dragon gallops across the darkness known as night, chasing what she couldn't reach, running from what she couldn't see.

After an eternity of sunrises, sunsets, high noons and midnights, her wings finally give out.

The dragon falters for the first time since she took off. Her wings can no longer support her. The beast drops. With a roar that stoically—stupidly—attempts to defy the inevitable, the dragon screams and bellows in a heartwrenching rage. A sound that shatters the globe and cracks the very sky, her shrapnelled emotions reveal their true colours in a sob as sad as anything you've never heard.

She falls. Crashes. Hits ground, stone, dirt, and foliage. Skidding uproariously into placid surroundings, the dragon is finished, done for. Absolutely beaten, the once-mighty being begins to water the earth with her blood, giving up on all she could have possibly hoped for. Innumerable shattered pieces, soul crushed and heart ruptured, the dragon lifts her miraculously unbroken wings in one last delirious effort. Her mangled jaw gaping on the forest floor, a moan like no other seeping through those jagged fangs.

The sadness of all creation combined would not amount to a thimble-full next to the absolute terror that escapes the lips of a dying dragon. She wails not for her demise, but for her stupidity, because she knows ... she knows, she knows she could have lived.

Instead she lies here, broken in more ways than one, alone, dying. Dead.

Centuries later, an adolescent dragon has wandered away from his thunder. He is lost in a strange land but does not mind, for he enjoys a good thrill, especially the thrill of adventure. The fledgeling roams over brush and briars, till he pauses, having sensed an intriguing aura.

His tongue flickers out and in as he paces round a large rock. The rock speaks wordless stories to him, drawing him nearer to it. A wave of shock zips through his wings when he realises what was so peculiar about this particular rock: it is no mere stone—it is petrified dragon.

Despite limbs grotesquely bent and twisted, the overall form was still unmistakably one of his very own race.

Perhaps long, long ago, he thought, it had been a beauteous creature.

But now... The arches that seemed to have been the ancient's wings lay crippled, half swallowed by the earth herself. This dragon couldn’t possibly fly, hidden as if by some rocky fortress.

The fledgeling was mesmerised by the ethereally depressing mass before him. He soon discovered an opening of sorts, where the beast may have once possessed a ribcage.

He wriggled through the rock and turned around. He sat down. This is nice, he thought. Warm, snug. Safe.

He nestled in gently so as not to disturb the spirit of his new shelter, so as not to bother this new treasure of a home he had found.


Luthien’s response