The Dragon’s Heart
Neither Liza or Madison could sleep.
“It’s horrible…” Madison quietly said to her sister. “I keep having these weird dreams.”
“Me, too!” Liza whispered. “Of shelves with no books.”
“Or staring at walls,” Madison added.
“Or sitting in an empty room?” Liza asked.
“But that’s all I’m dreaming,” Liza fretted. “Like I’m making my soul numb.”
“Exactly,” Madison said.
So the sisters snuck out by candlelight to see what was wrong with the night.
Fortunately, Madison and Liza were a witch’s daughters. They stepped into their mother’s tin owl, and flew off, into the dark.
“Have you noticed, the stars don’t seem to be as bright,” Madison said.
“And the moon looks lost,” Liza agreed.
Madison always liked to sing. It was her thing; to uncurl her voice, and let it carry and spread, and consume and trickle and flow. The little girl’s songs would embrace everything they touched, as her emotion flowed.
Ghouls would cry, tigers sigh. Kids would drift into luscious dreams.
She sang into the void of dull stars and quiet waves, to see what was hurting the night so.
She sang, oh, she sang, but her voice went flat. No feeling, no hurt or want or loneliness or need, echoed back to her.
“Hm..” she said. “This is a problem indeed.”
The tin owl flew, each feather hand-made with small, soft hammer blows. It stopped under the dull moon, where Liza tried to reason with the night.
“Sing again,” she said, to Madison.
“Again!?” Madison protested.
“Yes and no. Sing quiet this time, as if asking, as if hoping so much you dare not tell anyone,” Liza said. “You don’t even need words. Think of the softest breeze. Just… sing.”
“You always had a thing for logic,” Madison said. “Ever since that lemonade stand.”
“Why do you always bring that up? While you were off singing, I was making lemonade,” said Liza. “We had a lot of fun with the money I made.”
Madison smiled. Her sister was so easy to tease.
Then she sang.
Soft, as was asked, not even in words. Just sounds and humming and even breath. Just feeling. And her feeling spread and speeded into everything, not even trying to bounce back, and found a hole in the night.
The owl flew down above the ocean’s surface, smooth and black, rolling like glass, where Liza and Madison stepped onto the back of a brass squid. A beautiful, mechanical device of 100,000 small, delicate cogs and gears that sometimes did trade with their mum.
The squid swam them to a big, beating black heart, fifteen feet tall.
It stole all light. It stole all dreams. It took all imagination and gave nothing back.
“Our problem…” Liza said.
“This is horrible,” Madison fretted. “It’s like it is trying to suck us in.”
Indeed. The heart was sour, if not now cruel. It stood above the water, radiating spite. Sucking in all hope.
“No,” said Liza, putting her ear to the air. “It’s not angry. It’s sad.”
Madison listened for things beyond sound. For want, for need. Listened like mice do, as if everything was small.
“Yes…” she said. “But what is it? But why?”
“It is a dragon’s heart,” a voice replied.
Only then did the sisters see a dark person, or creature, in a hooded cloak, in a small rowboat under the heart.
The boogieman had tears on his cheeks.
“Do you know how rare dragons have become?” he said. “Once, oh, they roamed! They filled every storm, every dream, danced in thunder, became mountains on dusk. Now, they grow bitter and leave their hearts behind.”
“This is a dragon’s heart?” Liza said.
The more the boogieman talked, the more her and her sister could feel the hurt coming off it. Love left behind. Love turned bad.
“Yes, the dragon thought the world is now too hard, too mean,” the boogieman said. “It happens. To the moon dragons, the Japanese dragons, the water dragons. The few that are left. Sometimes they decide romance is gone, that they don’t want their heart anymore.”
“I won’t have this,” Liza said, like cold, hard facts. “We need dragons more than ever! Romance is not gone with us!”
Madison couldn’t stop staring at the abandoned heart.
“Sing,” Liza said to her sister, like a command.
“I’ve done that, remember. Lots,” Madison replied. “I’ve sung to the night. It just makes me want to cry.”
“Not that, either. Sing to those of the night. There are more than dragons out there…”
And Madison sang.
“Sing to the lost,” Liza crooned.
And Madison did.
“Sing to the hopeless and dreamers,” Liza pleaded. “To imagination, and to aimless, warming hope…”
And Madison did.
“Sing to unicorns and ghouls and creatures that sleep under riverbeds. To those things that live just beyond sight, in the corner of your eye. To giants without beanstalks, and girls lost in the trees as dark falls, wearing red hoods…”
And Madison did.
She sang to the quiet, the forgotten… and, one-by-one, they heard.
There was movement in the rolling, black glassy water. Creatures waited, beasts almost appeared.
And, with all this imagination around them, these solid, real, vital dreams, something else heard. Something impossibly big, far, far away, and approaching at great speed.
“Look…!” Liza whispered breathlessly, pointing to an object moving impossibly fast on the dark horizon.
The object approached beyond speed, cutting through air, dipping into and out of the water, flowing, radiating power.
“The dragon is hungry again!” the boogieman wept tears of joy, as the beast got closer and closer, and, drawn by magic and song and creatures who needed it as much as it needed them, it arrived with a rush of air and enormous, open mouth…
and consumed its own heart.
Madison and Liza watched in awe, as it spiralled up into the air, roaring with delight, then plunged, into the ocean again. Into the earth, and dreams.
Flying back home was easy and fun. The stars were crisp, filling the sky! Songs echoed everywhere, just beyond the breeze.
“Well done,” said the tin owl.
Madison and Liza didn’t reply. Just smiled to each other, occasionally looking down on the sleeping and all their amazing, colour-filled dreams.