"...Split down the middle!"
I heard laughter as I approached the secluded area in City Park where my friends and I always met. Rachel was doing stand-up, no doubt. I felt in my jacket pocket yet again to make sure the small bag was still there.
They were all there when I arrived. Meredith yawned as I walked up and said, "What is it you have to show us that's more important than sleep?" Becky and Rachel both rolled their eyes. It was 11 o' clock already.
I stood up straighter and went through the speech I'd prepared in my mind on my way here. I opened my mouth to speak, but before I could, Meredith butted in. "Oh, save it. Just tell us why you called us here." I glared at her and pulled the bag out of my pocket. The dragon still slumbered soundly inside.
"A bag?" Meredith said incredulously. "You dragged me out of bed for a stupid bag?"
Rachel wasn't nearly so impatient. "What's in it? Is it gold? Gems?" Becky scoffed. "And where would she get those, Rachel?" To which Rachel replied, "I dunno. Maybe she found them."
I cleared my throat loudly to remind them that I was, in fact, still standing there. Becky and Rachel turned to look at me while Meredith sulked under a tree. "It's not gold. Or gems. It's...it's something you have to see to believe." And with that, I reached in and carefully extracted the dragon from the bag.
Curled in the palm of my hand he looked so harmless. I winced, remembering the bandage on my wrist. He was anything but harmless. Becky and Rachel crowded around to see him better. They stared at him, wide-eyed. Even Meredith started to look curious.
"What is it?" She asked. "Stop blocking my view? What is it?" When Becky and Rachel refused to move or answer her, she got up to come see. A moment after she joined the group, the dragon opened its eyes and sat up in my palm. It blinked, looking around, obviously confused. It sniffed the air, then my thumb. Deciding that I was, indeed, the person it had imprinted, it promptly shifted into a cat-like position by rolling over onto its back, sticking all four feet in the air, and swishing its tail back and forth.
At this, all three of my friends went, "Awwwww!" I scowled. "Don't go Awwww! It's not cute! It's evil! It bit me!" I pulled back my sleeve to reveal the bandage on my wrist.
Rachel stroked his belly with her finger. "Well, I think he's cute," she declared, tickling under the dragon's chin. The little creature was obviously enjoying the attention. "Don't call it a he! We don't know what it is." I said. Rachel could really make me angry sometimes.
"He sure seems like a boy to me," Rachel said. "He really does," Becky agreed. "I can't really see him being a girl," added Meredith. I massaged my temple. "Look, what I want to know is, what should I do with him?"
"Do with him? What do you mean?" Becky asked. "Well," I said. "I can't keep him. And I don't have a place to put him. So what should I do?" Rachel looked at me curiously. "Why can't you keep him?" I sighed and set him down on the grass.
"Well, for one thing, who knows how much he eats. I doubt I have enough to satisfy him." I thought for a minute before continuing. "And if he eats a lot, he'll probably grow up to be really big, and I don't have anywhere to keep him if he does. And...and how am I supposed to hide him from my dad, who'll probably be terrified of him and want him dead? I can't keep him."
They stared at me thoughtfully. Or, at least, two of them did. Meredith was playing with the dragon. The three of us bounced ideas around for a little while before coming to a conclusion. I'd brought with me every book on dragons that I owned, stuffed into a bookbag. We'd studied the books and even found a piece of text describing the island where dragons originated.
Finally, Becky sighed. "Well, Brina, the only thing I can think of for you to do is take him home." I stared at her incredulously. "Home? Take him home? How am I supposed to take him home when his home is suspended a mile above the ocean, completely lost in time?" I was freaking out, I won't lie. I felt so helpless, and I was panicking.
"It's all I can think of. We'll have to find a way."