When I was younger, I had a friend. He was a dragon.
The world likes to dance by in a blur. Friends come and go. Lovers stop by and soon close the door behind them.
I don’t mind all of this. As a child I had very shy and closed personality, but as I grew older, I found people who managed to chip away at the shell that I had created for myself. Some of those people still stand in my life.
I sit down with Shota, two cappuccinos in hand. The Western Coffee had really hit off here in Japan, I sip the drink and savour the high amount of milk in the drink. Shota sighs and places down his drink.
“Hiroshi you are a brilliant artist and friend, but as your editor I really need you to finish the new chapter so I can get the clean copy done.”
I take another sip of my coffee. “You’ve known me since Junior high, you can trust me, right?”
Shota laughs, but soon chokes as he had just taken a sip of his drink, “since I have known you since Junior High, I know that you are never on time for things!”
I frown and turn away from him dramatically. He laughs again and checks his phone.
“Shit I’ve gotta meet another client, I’ll call you later yeah?” He gets up and shrugs on his coat. I nod and smile a goodbye. I continue to sit at the coffee shop table, watching out the window and letting my mind drift.
When I let my mind drift it always ends up at the same destination. That destination of Masao. Masao was a dragon that I once knew.
He was injured when I first met him. Blood caked his scales but still they shone too brightly in dawning light. When I got too close, he growled. However, I knew that he needed help and I didn’t know who I could go to, so I had to help him.
I had to.
I ran back home, hoping that he would still be in that same damp alley that I had found him in. My mother called to me for what was wrong as I rushed outside and grabbed a bucket and some towels, I didn’t reply to her instead rushing back outside.
I was so out of breath when I came back to the alley that I couldn’t even sigh in relief when the black emerald dragon still lay there, eyes half closed, barely breathing. I stepped closer and reached my hand out softly, a small growl left his slim snout, but I persevered, letting a gentle smile tighten my lips as I cooed soft sounds to him. Soon the growling stopped and I placed my hand upon his hot scales. They were so hot that I wanted to jerk my hand away, but afraid that I was going to startle him, I slowly took my hand off. I held in my breathe as my hand stung, bright red and almost raw.
I did not care though, all I needed to do right now was to get some water and clean the wounds that continued to leak crimson thick blood. I ran outside of the alley, the streets now becoming empty with the setting sun. The only place where I knew there was water was the canal a few streets over. I went back over to the dragon, his eyes opened at the sound of my approaching footsteps. I wasn’t sure if he would understand me, but I spoke to him anyways.
“I’m going to get some water so please stay here.” I dropped the towels next to him and started off running again towards the canal, thankful for my level of fitness from being a part of my track team.
I made it to the canal and slowly made my way down the ramp that lead into it. I scooped up as much of the cloudy brown water. I knew that it probably make his wounds worst, but this was the best that I had.
I made my way more slowly to the dragon, the bucket heavy on my underdeveloped ten-year-old arms and my hand stinging horribly as I held onto the bucket. I soon came back to the ally, sweating heavily and my pants half soaked from the water slopping out of the bucket. The Dragon still lay there, this time his breathing seeming to be shallower than before. I rushed to him and quickly soaked the towels in the water. I lay the towels on his wound. He growled at me but seemed to not have enough energy to snap his strong jaw. I continued, his hot scales quickly evaporating the water, but the more I cleaned his wounds the cooler his scales seemed to get.
I finally finished cleaning the wounds, they still bleed but this time only small trickles of blood trickled out. There were three wounds on him, large and deep, like something with massive and thick claws had slashed into this side. His scales had cooled down now to the point where I could touch him without burning myself. I stroked his scales, letting myself dazzle with how the scales seemed to shine even though there was so little light. He opened his golden eye and watched me as I stroked him. I continued on, thinking that perhaps it was more calming for him than it was for me.
I didn’t want to look into those shockingly golden eyes of his, so I avoided them as I touched him. He raised his head and shook his body like a dog shaking off water after a bath. I gasped and took a step back from him, wasn’t sure if I should fear him or be amazed by him. He groaned and slowly stoop up onto his all fours, limping slightly but definitely stronger than he was before. I smiled at him, happy that I had been able to help.
“Will you be okay now?” I asked him, still not sure if he could understand me or not. Who knew what Dragons could speak?
He nodded his head and took a step towards me. I quickly scrambled onto my feet, still unsure of the intentions of the Dragon. The Dragon's snout opened and I half expected a burst of flame to come out but instead he spoke.
“Thank you for your kindness young one.” He said. I blinked once, twice, then again before quickly bowing to him.
“Yes of course.” I said, my heart suddenly racing.
The Dragon suddenly chuckled at my politeness and hummed; I took this as a sign to raise my head.
“Give me your hand.” He spoke. I wasn’t sure what he was doing but I gave him my uninjured hand.
“No child, the other one.” His voice was so smooth and baritone that it took a moment for the words to process in my brain.
“Oh.” I almost squeaked and I shoved out my other hand.
“Palm out.” He spoke again, he spoke gently but curt. I turned my hand palm out, the skin redder and rawer than it had been before. Then before I knew what was even going on, his large forked tongue flicked out and licked my hand.
I jerked it back, “Ewww!” I exclaimed, he blinked at me, confused as to why I was reacting that way. I looked down to my hand saliva still covering it, however the burn that had once been there was now gone. “Oh.” I said, when I realised what he had done.
“Thank you.” I bowed at him again. I smiled at him. I believe that he if he had not been in his Dragon form then he too would have showed me a slight smile. He nodded his head instead.
I went and collected the towels and bucket then sighed.
“I have no idea how I’m going to explain this to my mother.” I whispered, shoving the damp towels into the bucket to allow easier carry.
“I can take them if you like?” The Dragon asked, I turned around to face him again, but instead gasped. A man of perhaps his mid-twenties now stood before me. Hair golden and eyes now a chocolate brown, he was very tall and had a packing of muscles but not too much where it made his body look disproportionate, just enough muscle.
I squeaked this time however when I realised that he had no clothes on. I quickly took a towel and threw it at him. “Cover yourself!” I yelled, my face flushed red. A ten-year-old did not need to see that.
The Dragon chuckled sheepishly. “Yes, I forget sometimes that I don’t have clothes on after I transform.”
I stand and face him. “Nice to meet you, my name is Tanaka, Hiroshi.” I bow again.
The Dragon bows back at me, “I’m Masao.”