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Stories by Laura Lagana

In musty castle ruins on top of the craggy mountain peaks of the Forcan Ridge in Scotland, lived a dragon named Flame. Today he turned two years old. His red scales itched with excitement. Copper eyes glinted in anticipation of the day ahead. Flame yawned and stretched his tail, climbed out of bed and waddled toward his parents.

“Happy Birthday!” His mom, Ember, and his dad, Shadow, jumped away from the table revealing a surprise. Purple and white frosting covered layers of delicate chocolate cake. The smell of sugar wafted to his nostrils, reminding him of the cotton candy he and his dad found near a garbage can at a carnival the year before.

Gathered around the cold limestone table, Flame inhaled. White-hot fire burst from his mouth, turning his cake into a scorched pile of ashes. Flames stared at the destruction. A lone tear welled up from his copper eyes and fell to the floor, echoing off the stone walls.

Shadow stared at the destruction and wiped away his sons tears. He drummed his razor sharp claws on the tabletop. “Ah ha!” Shadow leapt from his chair, an idea popping into his head. “I will teach you to fly.”
Ember placed her claw on her husbands arm, drawing his attention. She frowned and whispered, “Do you think he’s old enough? What if he gets hurt?”

He hugged his wife. “He just turned two today. I think Flame’s old enough.” Shadow turned and waddled towards the castle entrance, hanging precariously over the edge of a cliff. Flame ran after his father, grinning as he raced past his mom. Shadow stared over the fields of purple heather, stuck his claw in his mouth and pulled it out, making a popping noise. He held up the moist claw and waited.

Flame arched his brow, tilting his head and looking up at his father. “What are we waiting for?” His whisper spread through the valley and echoed off the ridge of mountains.

“First you wet your finger, feel for a breeze and then spread your wings open. Air will rush up to meet you and that’s when you flap as hard as you can.” Shadow leapt off the cliff and flew in a circle. Flapping his wings, he hovered in front of the stone arch doorway. “Are you ready to try?”

Flame spread his wings, peered over the edge and cringed. “It’s so far down.” Lifting a claw, he popped it into his mouth and pulled it out. “I feel the wind coming from the mountains over there.” He pointed at the snow-capped peaks.

“Are you ready now?”

Flame nodded. “Do you really think I can fly?”

“I think you can do anything you put your mind to,” said Shadow.

Curling his lip, Flame said, “If you think so.” He waddled to the edge of the cliff, spreading his wings. Flame turned into the wind, squeezed his eyes tightly shut and jumped.

“Flap your wings!” Shadow shouted.

Cold air tickled Flames body. His frantic flapping sounded like an oncoming train.

Shadow flew next to his son and rolled over. “Now you try.”

Flame flipped, rolled and soared like a bird, excited by his new-found skill. He and his father flew over a loch teaming with fish. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a school of fish leaping into the air, catching bugs for their supper. Flame turned into the wind, bearing down on his target. He drew closer. The fish flopped back into the murky water, trying to escape the fire bursting from Flames mouth. As he drew upon his quarry, Flame let loose with one last blast, but the fish had dove too deep for the flames to touch them.

Shadow soared next to his son. He placed a wing over Flames shoulder, offering comfort. “Don’t feel bad son, next time you’ll catch your prey.”

Joy flashed his Flames eyes. “I don’t feel bad. This is the best birthday ever.” A smile lit up his face. “I can fly!”

Together they caught the north wind and met Ember at the castle entrance. A smile spread across her face and pride flashed in her eyes. She saw everything from above. Her son could fly.

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