|Snicker. The blog is named after him.|
by Valerie L. Egar
"What's the secret?" Mrs. Tufts asked. She was standing behind us and we didn't know how much she'd heard about the dragons Melissa's Dad had discovered in the mountains. All we knew was that she'd heard the word 'secret' and her nosy radar activated.
Melissa looked frightened. News about the dragons couldn't slip out or their lives would be in danger. I stood up and looked Mrs. Tufts in the eye. "Melissa and I are planning our Halloween costumes. We're thinking about being dragons." I wasn't lying, Halloween was still a few weeks away and being a dragon had crossed my mind.
"Oh." She was disappointed. "But, I heard Melissa say her Dad didn't want anybody to know about the dragons."
"He wants us to keep our idea secret, so people are surprised. You're not going to say anything, are you?"
"Me? I'm like First Knox when it comes to secrets."
More like a TV broadcast, I thought, but I smiled.
She looked at Melissa. "Are your Dad and Sandy Quirkhorn still seeing each other?"
Melissa's mother died a few years ago and now I understood how Ms. Quirkhorn knew about the dragons.
"Yes," said Melissa. Her voice could have flash frozen vegetables.
"And your mother, Terry? Is she still working late?"
Mom was the target of a lot of Mrs. Tufts' gossip. I'd overheard comments that my sister Jenna was "practically raising me," and that Mom "spent more time at work than with her children." I wanted to say "Why do you ask?" but I knew that would only prove that I wasn't being raised properly. I said, "Yes" and let it go.
Melissa was pale as Mrs. Tufts walked away. "That was close."
The following day, Melissa invited Ziti and me to her house to meet Melchinor. I rode my bike out of town and up a country road that turned to dirt. Ziti galloped along next to me, on a leash. Melissa's house was an old Cape Cod at the end of a long driveway, at the foot of the mountains.
Melchinor greeted Ziti with a few huffs. He was bigger than Ziti and had translucent wings that grew from his shoulders. As they scuffled in the yard, I asked Melissa, "Is Ziti going to grow wings?"
Now I was worried. When Ziti grew wings, everyone would know he wasn't a dog. Melissa was far enough from town that no one ever saw Melchinor, but it would be a problem for Ziti.
Melissa waved off my worry. "Get him a cute dog coat. It will fit over his wings and no one will know."
Dress Ziti up the way a girl would dress a poodle? I'd get teased for sure, but I'd do just about anything to protect the secret.
Melissa's Dad came hiking down the mountain as it started to darken. He rubbed Ziti under the chin. "You're a handsome guy," he said. "I have to wonder how you ended up at the shelter."
I shrugged. Aside from saying he was a stray, the shelter wasn't able to tell us anything about him.
Mr. Gibbons invited me in. Melissa led the way and Ziti and Melchinor scrambled in after us. As he made pizza, he explained more about the dragons. His theory was that several had flown from Iceland to northern Maine.
"I'd always thought that dragons were make-believe."
Mr. Gibbons shrugged. "Many animals we thought were mythical may exist in remote areas of the world. Think about it, Terry. Since ancient times, people in many different cultures have drawn pictures of dragons. If they never saw one, why do the pictures look similar?"
Melchinor scratched at the door and huffed. "Melissa, I think he needs to go outside," Mr. Gibbons said.
I understood. I'd missed the clues once or twice and quickly learned that cleaning up after a dragon is NOT fun.
When she opened the door, Melchinor yelped, spread his wings and flew over the trees towards town.
"Oh no," screamed Melissa. "Melchinor, come back!"
To be continued…..
Published in The Sunday Journal Tribune, November 22, 2015. Copyright 2015 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be copied, reproduced or distributed without permission from the author.