Welcome to Sunday Scribbles!
Today marks week 36 of the 52 week writing challenge!
The prompt for Sunday 10th September is ‘Friendship’:
This weeks attempt contains dragons, because everyone needs a dragon friend! It’s also in first person, probably because I’m reading ‘The Girl on the Train.’ (It’s not the best, but I’ll persist!)
Bark scratched my hands as I clambered up the tree, but I paid it no mind. I was on a mission. Around my neck, a thick rope hung, and from it, a sturdy piece of wood. It swung as I climbed higher, and knocked against my leg.
‘You’ll bruise it,’ I heard my sisters voice call, from far away. At least, it sounded like her. I knew it wasn’t. She couldn’t be back yet. Mum said a long time.
I ignored her, the voice, as I always did, and shimmied along the branch. My breath appeared misty in front of me as I huffed and puffed, and I paused for a moment to balance myself, before my hands flew into action. I let the sturdy wood rest on the tree branch beside me, and pulled the rope from my neck.
The knot came apart with a few sharp tugs. I shoved one end of the rope under my knee, and busied myself securing the other end around the branch below me. When both ends of the rope were attached to the branch, securely knotted, I pushed the wood into the air.
It thudded down, but it held, and it began to swing back and forth. I gave a whoop of joy and scrambled down from the tree. Stood back, hands on hips to admire my makeshift swing. Sasha always loved my rope swings. This was going to be awesome.
I ran towards the hanging wood and leapt aboard. The tree branch creaked, but I paid it no mind and swung my legs to gain momentum. Back and forth, higher and higher. A shriek of laughter, and a grin split my face.
‘Hey! Who’s that in them bushes? Come out!’ a gruff voice yelled from the field next to my hideout.
I froze, hands clasped around the rope, and slowed my swing to a stop with my feet.
‘I know someone’s there! You’re one of those arsonists, aren’t you?’ the voice asked, and through the gaps I could see an older man, cane in one hand and dog leash in the other.
I’d heard my parents talk about arsonists before, but I didn’t know what they meant. When I asked, Mum said someone’s been setting fire to the bushes and trees near our house for over a year now. I was forbidden to play there. Here.
I dug my heels into the ground and slid from the swing. Rope scraped my hands, and I stifled a cry. I plastered myself to the floor, behind a ridge in the landscape, and held my breath. Hoped he wouldn’t see me. Adults never came into the bushes, he wouldn’t…
‘That’s it, I’m coming in,’ the man yelled. The bushes rustled as he pushed them aside with his cane.
I shot to my feet and ran. Shoved aside branches and sharp nettles. Ignored the burn in my legs and the sting on my arms.
‘Hey, get back here!’ the man yelled.
I shook my head and continued to run. He moved after me with lumbering steps, and shoved aside the same bushes and branches, but slower, less agile. He would never catch me. I heard him curse as he stumbled on a tree root, but I did not turn back. Kept running.
He whistled, long and low, and leaves rustled. I glanced back. A dog tore towards me, under the bushes and over the branches that had stopped its master. I pushed myself to run faster, and broke free of the trees into a clearing, where water cut through the glade. I couldn’t stop my gasp. It was the river mother always warned us to stay away from.
There was no way around. It would have to be through. I stepped up to the river bank and gulped. It churned, deep and dangerous, but I didn’t want to get caught. A rope caught my eye a little way down the stream, suspended from a tree branch and curled around a tree trunk my side of the river. I grinned.
The rope was rough in my hands as I unwound it and wrapped the curious spiked end around my wrist. I took a run up. Leapt into the air and swung across the river. The other side was nearly beneath my feet when it happened.
The dog burst into the clearing and barked, loud and yappy. The man stumbled closer with a grin. He was going to catch me. The rope I held onto curled and twisted. Yanked straight upwards into the trees. I yelled and twisted, but the rope wound tighter around my wrist. Curled around my waist.
‘What the…?’ I heard the man say. ‘Quit playing games and get back here, you hooligan.’
I opened my mouth to respond, to yell for help, but the rope, tight around my wrist and waist, curled upwards and covered my mouth.
‘Shh, you are safe here,’ a voice hissed in my ear.
I paused in my struggles and tried to twist my head. To look up. Green curtains, the colour of the canopy of leaves, obscured my vision, and I was blind.
‘I will protect you,’ the voice said, ‘But you need to remain still.’
I nodded to the best of my ability, and gasped when four arms encircled me.
‘Nothing but leaves,’ I heard the man below mutter. ‘Swear I saw one of them arsonists hiding in the bushes again.’
Boots thudded on the dirt. He must have kicked it. Then, a gruff voice said, ‘Come on, boy, time to go home.’
I heard the clink of a lead on a collar, and then boots crunched on leaves as they left the river side. We remained frozen until we could no longer hear footsteps, or the rustle of leaves.
The curtains opened, and I blinked against the bright sunlight. ‘Thanks,’ I said, and tried to turn my head. ‘But who are you?’ And who had four arms?
The arms released me, and the rope unfurled. It set me down gently on the river bank. Then, a pause, and a great gust. I pulled my arm up to shield my eyes from dust and leaves. When I lowered it, a great winged beast stood before me. Emerald green, as bright as I remember Sasha’s eyes being.
‘I am Sasha,’ the dragon said. A forked tongue flicked out from between its teeth, and it bent its head to drink from the river.
I ran to her side. ‘That’s my sisters name!’
The dragon arched a brow. ‘And where is your sister?’
I looked away. ‘Gone. Mum won’t tell me where.’
‘I see,’ the dragon replied. Smoke snorted from her nose. ‘You may go.’
‘Go? But you’re a dragon!’ I said, and gestured to the beast in front of me. ‘Mum says dragons aren’t real.’
‘Your mother would do well to believe in fairy tales,’ the dragon replied. She spread her wings in what looked like a shrug.
I paused and looked away from the river, in the direction of our redbrick cottage. I knew my mother would be waiting for me. She’d never believe me. I looked back at the dragon, and could not help the smile that spread over my face as I asked, ‘Will you be my friend?’
The dragon snorted. ‘What?’
‘My sister’s been gone a long time,’ I replied, and rubbed at my arms. ‘We used to play together all the time, but since then… I’m lonely.’
The dragon looked right at me and scratched the dirt. ‘I understand. I’ve lived for over a year, and you are the first to talk to me. I set such lovely flames to lure friends to me, but they snuff them out all the time.’
‘You’re the arsonist?’ I asked. The dragon nodded, so I continued, ‘You set fires. People don’t like it.’
‘How can they not like it? Fire is beautiful.’
‘It is,’ I found myself agreeing, even though fire scared me. I wanted her to like me. To be my friend. She smiled. It was working.
‘Perhaps we can be friends after all,’ the dragon replied, wing outstretched as she turned away from the river bank. ‘Come, I will show you my lair.’
I followed, and we played together in a den of twigs and ferns. She taught me how to light a fire. My mother never found out about my best friend, and, although I spent every moment with the dragon, I never spoke of her, much like my mother never spoke of my sister unless I prodded. Ran away, she’d say, when pushed. I never thought my sister would leave me. I was right.
It was only years later, on my mothers death bed, that I discovered the truth about my sister. She drowned in the river where I met my best friend.
Thanks for reading!
As kids, me and my sister had secret hideouts in the bushes near our house, including a makeshift swing. One time, an elderly man with a dog yelled at us. We hid, crouched in the bushes, until he gave up and left. It was scary at the time, but he didn’t come in after us!
The prompt for 17th September is ‘Heroes.’
If you try next weeks prompt yourself, let me know how it goes. Post your attempt on your blog on the 17th September, and leave a link in the comments below this post so I can read it 🙂
If you can attempt the prompt in less than 140 characters, you can also #sunscribbles on Twitter. I am super interested to see what you all come up with 🙂