Funny, Morrow had never noticed the curio shop before, its unassuming door tucked in between two much larger and inviting stores on the busy downtown street. A quick glimpse of an item through the door’s small window stuck in his mind, calling to him as he rushed past to his appointment.
Thoughts of the store and the crystal dragon’s egg he wasn’t even certain he had seen stayed with him, distracting him from the droning of the lawyer’s voice as he signed each of the documents required to complete the distribution of his grandfather’s estate.
Morrow’s grandfather had been his last living relative. It was, perhaps, a misnomer to use the word “distribution.” Gramps had left his entire estate to his only grandchild, and it had left Morrow a wealthy man.
In a week, he and his fiancée, Gail, would marry, and he would again have family. He was only sad that Gramps hadn’t lived long enough to see it. He had loved Gail as much as Morrow did.
But as much as Morrow wanted to focus on Grandpa during the meeting, his mind kept drifting to that egg. How had he never noticed that shop before?
The final paper signed, Morrow laid the pen on the table, shook the lawyer’s hand, and rushed out of his office, oddly concerned that the door that had so occupied his thoughts might not be there when he returned.
He breathed a sigh of relief when he found it, still tucked in between the large store windows on either side. He reached for the knob, then hesitated. What if what he found inside disappointed him? What if it wasn’t as special as his imagination had made it out to be?
Chiding himself for his foolishness, he grasped the knob, twisted it, and entered the curio shop. Except, it wasn’t really a shop. The crystal egg was the only item in the entire space. He hadn’t realized, when he had glimpsed it a few hours before, that it was huge—taller than he was.
Drawn to the egg, Morrow examined it, walking around and around it. It was magnificent. Encased in the crystal stood what looked to be a very large baby dragon standing amidst branches that bore the most beautiful, delicate flowers.
Seized with a longing that refused to be denied, Morrow tore his eyes from the egg to look for a shopkeeper. He froze in shock as an old woman, rather dragonish in appearance to his eyes, seemed to materialize in front of him. He shook his head to clear it, certain she must have already been there.
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“Can I help you, young man?” The woman said with a smile that made Morrow excruciatingly uncomfortable.
“I…um…yes!” Morrow said, collecting himself. “I want to purchase this dragon egg.”
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” the woman said, her face relaxing into a softer smile, leaving no sign of the dragon-lady he had imagined her to be. “But I could never sell this egg.”
Morrow’s heart sank, then fluttered, then raced in panic. He had to have the egg! “I’ll pay you anything. Please…”
“Place your hand on the egg,” the old woman said, reaching out to do just that.
Morrow did as commanded. Warmth seeped into his hand, travelling up his arm and into his heart. We are bonded. A voice neither young nor old flowed effortlessly into his thoughts. Surprisingly, he felt neither the need nor the desire to run, though he understood a sane person would.
“I’ve lost my mind,” he said out loud. “This is all a crazy hallucination.”
I am the last dragon. The voice slid into his mind again. Your ancestors have been my guardians since the fall of dragonkind. The world is not yet ready for our return. Until it is, this sacred duty will be yours and that of your descendants.
“But why am I only learning this now?” Morrow asked, though he suspected he already knew the answer.
Only the guardian may know of my existence. On their passing, a new guardian is chosen.
“Gramps was your last guardian.” The certainty with which Morrow understood this was matched by his unquestioning acceptance of his duty. “But what if I hadn’t walked by the doorway? I don’t normally come to this area.”
Morrow sensed a tinkling laughter, though no sound emanated from the dragon’s egg. The door appears to the guardian at need. You will, now that you own the guardian’s keep, find me there.
Though Morrow had somehow accepted all of this as though he had known it his entire life, he had one more question. He turned now to the old woman. “Why aren’t you the dragon’s guardian?”
He gaped in wonder as her body dissolved into smoke and flowed through the crystal and into the dragon.
The woman you saw was merely a projection of myself into the living world. I am all there is or ever will be until the world is ready to welcome my kind once more.
Morrow removed his hand from the egg and the world went silent, somehow a little colder than the moment before. Yet as he left the shop and the door disappeared behind him, he felt a tendril of warmth—his connection to the dragon.
It saddened him that he could never share this with Gail. It also worried him that he was the only person in existence who could act as guardian to the dragon. Why had Gramps not had more children? Why had his parents not done so? He smiled to himself as he decided to tell Gail that he now agreed with her that they needed to have a big family.
The picture for this story is one of the images I collected to write stories for. I actually have a series of dragon eggs on my Instagram page. You’ll have to scroll down a bit to find them, but some of them truly are magnificent! This one is my favorite.
Before anyone else can say it, I will. This sounds like the beginning of a much longer and larger tale. Maybe something happens that makes it necessary for the egg to hatch. Maybe some evil rises in the world that Morrow and the dragon must face together. If you were to write a book about this, where would you take things?
I agree it feels like a beginning. A beginning to a great tale. I really like it!!
Definitely a good beginning 🤸. Great little appetizer!